Tablet or a smartphone? When it came to choosing a high-end, do-it-all mobile gadget, the answer used to be simple, and it remained this way, till tablets came along. Now looking at the way the competition is shaping up, we believe that it’s only going to get a lot more complicated and chaotic. Once we enter February, which is when the whole tech community awaits this year's highly anticipated Mobile World Congress (MWC), we should see the battle heating up. But that’s then and this is now, so let’s check out which latest tablet is adding to this dilemma.
A handsome chap
Samsung entered the tablet space with the Galaxy Tab P1000, back in the October of 2010. But it didn’t have an easy childhood. It was a bit bulky, glitchy, due to Froyo and simply too expensive to even consider, especially when you had the iPad selling for around the same price. What we did like about it, though was the form factor, 7-inch is the perfect size for carrying around or holding in your hand and today we have the newly launched Samsung Galaxy Tab 620 or 7.0 Plus (in international markets), a successor to the not so successful Tab P1000.
On video: Samsung Galaxy Tab 620
Design and Build
The Tab 620 borrows a lot of its features from its elder siblings – the Tab 750 and 730. The chunkiness of the old one has been shaved down for a more streamlined and curvy design. It’s slimmer at 9.9mm and lighter as well, at just 345g. In order to achieve this, Samsung have used a lot of plastic for the chassis, but despite this, it feels sturdy and durable. There aren’t any creaking parts and everything feels put together well. The power and volume rocker has been placed on the right, while the SIM and microSD card is placed on the left.
What was wrong with a microUSB port? Seriously?
Quite frankly, we hate the proprietary charging/data port, since it means you have to be extra careful with the bundled cable. The connector looks very similar to Apple’s connector and here we thought they were trying to avoid any more lawsuits. The stereo speakers are placed at the bottom, but they aren’t very loud. Also, when viewing videos in landscape mode, you don’t get the left-right stereo effect.
Slim and light, just the way we like it
This being a Honeycomb tablet, there aren’t any physical, capacitive shortcut buttons on the screen. All you get is the front facing camera and a bunch of sensors (proximity, ambient light). Samsung bundles the Tab 620 with a charger and a headset. Other accessories, like the USB host adapter that comes with the Tab 750 should be compatible with this as well, since they are pretty much identical.
A familiar looking interface greets us when you power it on. The first boot takes a while, but after that, the boot-up time is quite less, however, it is still not as quick as the Flyer. This is the only 7-inch tablet in the Indian market right now that runs Honeycomb (v3.2) and while we are not big fans of this tablet OS, it seems to suit a smaller screen better. For first time, we didn’t mind that the shortcut access to various settings were scattered all over the screen, simply because, it’s much easier to reach, so less effort.
Samsung have given their TouchWiz UX UI treatment to the 620 making it colourful and vibrant. The new PLS LCD screen that has been used here has a decent resolution of 1024 x 600, but we couldn’t help but notice that the brightness levels were a tad low. Even on full brightness, it’s not blindingly bright, so you could run into problems under direct sunlight. Also, the ambient light sensor tends to dim the screen a little too much when indoors making the picture appear a bit dull. Nothing like what a quick firmware patch can’t fix. You get the same customizations and tweaks in the UI, just like the Tab 750 or the Galaxy S II, so we’ll skip this bit.
Band of brothers!
The processor is lifted straight from Sammy’s Galaxy S II; the dual-core Exynos 4210 chipset with the Mali-400MP graphics chip. Couple this with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage and you have a recipe for an amazing multimedia experience. The interface is quite fluid, except for moments when TouchWiz raises its ugly head. Overall, it’s a very pleasant experience and with ICS update due in Q2, it should be even better. Samsung have thrown in some of their own wallpapers and widgets like BuddisNow, Pulse, SocialHub, etc. They have also included Pen Memo that lets you draw stuff with a digital pen or your finger. In order to compete with the HTC Flyer, we have a screenshot button, which lets you take a screen grab of almost any screen and then you can edit it, add some notes and send it via mail, Bluetooth, etc. Performance wise, it’s on par with the Galaxy S II and only slightly behind the Galaxy Note. In AnTuTu, we logged a score of 6123 points, whereas Linpack returned a Single Thread score of 41.9 and Multi-thread score of 75.1.
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All those little niggles with TouchWiz fly right out the window when you see what the Tab 620 can do in the media department. The music and video player has been restored to its former glory, as it now has full support for FLAC files and is DivX HD certified. The audio quality through good in-earphones is brilliant and you can further tweak that with enhancements and custom 8-band graphic equalizer. You also have the option to enable the 5.1 channel effect, although it best works with movies.
Excellent multimedia features
You don’t need any third party video player, here as, unlike the Tab 750 and 730, the Tab 620 will playback almost all video formats with ease. Got some 1080p MKVs? Simply dump it in and watch it. There’s even a folder vie,w which lets you sort your videos more easily. We’re glad that Samsung brought back this amazing feature in the Tab 620, which we sorely missed in their other offerings. If you find you’re running out of space, simply add a microSD card and expand the storage, another feature that’s missing in the bigger tablets. Both music and videos can be streamed anytime to DLNA compatible TV at the push of a button.
The Tab 620 is a quad-band GSM tablet with support for voice calls as well. Simply pair it with a Bluetooth headset or use the bundled wired headset and you’re all set to make calls. There’s even an option for video calling in the dialer. It also supports 3G with full HSDPA (21Mbps) and HSUPA (5.74Mbps) support. Along with Wi-Fi ‘n’, we also have dual-band support, which means the Tab 620 can connect to either a 2.4GHz band or the much faster 5GHz band. Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 3.0, DLNA, and TV-out complete the set of connectivity options.
No dearth of connectivity options
The onscreen keyboard is comfortable to use and there’s also Swype built-in should you need it. The stock browser is quick in rendering web pages. Zooming in and out is fluid, thanks to the quick CPU and ample RAM. The tablet will only connect in MTP mode to your PC and you can’t seem to change that to Mass Storage. This is not a big deal really, but a word of caution; if you have DivX codec installed on your PC and you try to copy a video file to the tablet, it will crash.
Miscellaneous apps, include All Share, eBook reader, Memo, Pen Memo, Polaris Ofice, Task Manager, and Pulse. Thankfully, there aren’t too many of them cluttering the tablet, just the essentials.
The camera sensor is only 3.1MP, but you do get auto-focus, touch-to-focus, smile detection and panorama modes to play around with. Unfortunately, the sensor cannot pick up good amount of detail unless the subject is very well lit so indoor shots are quite poor.
Plenty of options to fiddle around with
However, macro shots are a lot better, especially with the flash on. The panorama mode stitches together 8 pictures but there’s a lot of blurring as you sweep across, resulting in a very hazy picture.
Macro shots are the only ones that look good
Samsung have managed to squeeze in 720p video recording at 30fps and it seems to capture it quite well. But, there’s a lot of noise that creeps into the video as well. Touch-to-focus is present, while recording, which is good. Overall, the camera is pretty average and we wished they would have used a 5MP sensor instead.
In our video drain test, the 4000mAh battery managed to last just shy of 8hrs. This is with the brightness set to 75 percent, Wi-Fi turned off and without a SIM card. This is not too bad considering it’s a 7-inch screen with a decently high resolution. If you’ll be using 3G, then expect this number to drop a little.
With a street price of Rs.26,000, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 620 is a real catch, considering that it’s currently the best feature packed tablet in the market that also supports voice calls over GSM networks. Other worthy adversaries are the HTC Flyer and the Milagrow TabTop (MGPT01-16GB), which falls in the same price bracket (actually, they’re a tiny bit cheaper). The Milagrow comes the closest to the Tab 620, in terms of features, as it also has voice calling capabilities, but since we haven’t reviewed it, we can’t comment on how good or bad it is.
The HTC Flyer is another attractive option here, now that it’s priced sensibly, but you’ll be sacrificing voice call functions and high bit-rate HD video playback. So you see, the Tab 620 is an all rounder, but we still feel it’s expensive. You can now find the Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi version for as little as 20K online, so the ideal price of the Tab 620 should have been around 20K-21K, which would have killed the competition. In the end, we feel Samsung has a sure shot winner on their hands, as they’ve incorporated the best bits from all their leading products into one stellar device.
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