updated 07:45 am EDT, Thu September 1, 2011
Galaxy Tab 7.7 official at IFA
Samsung met expectations with a slew of new Android hardware. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is the direct sequel to Samsung's very first mobile tablet and is also the first to use a tablet-sized AMOLED screen, fitting its own 7.7-inch, 1280x800 Super AMOLED Plus screen. Despite the smaller size, it's also possibly Samsung's fastest tablet with a dual-core, self-made 1.4GHz processor fast enough to play 1080p video.
In sync with the higher resolution screen, the Tab 7.7 runs Android 3.2 and is finally using a genuinely optimized tablet interface. TouchWiz sits on top with the same interface as from larger Galaxy Tabs.
Much of the hardware is an upgrade independently of speed. Helped partly by a 5,100mAh battery, the smaller tablet can still manage 10 hours of continuous video, even with a 0.31-inch thickness that's thinner than earlier models. At 0.74 pounds, the design is also much lighter and closer to e-readers. It can reach up to 21Mbps on HSPA+ 3G and, in some versions, can still make phone calls. A version with 64GB built-in is also now a choice for those going beyond 32GB or who need more than what microSDHC cards can do.
Samsung is still conservative with the cameras, which stop at three megapixels on the back and two megapixels at the front. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 doesn't have a definitive release date but is expected to come soon.
Its release potentially tests the real demand for seven-inch tablets. The first Galaxy Tab saw brisk early sales that saw it hit first one and then two million shipped in its first few months. Sales are believed to have tapered off early into 2011, though, as a combination of the iPad 2 and Samsung's own early announcement of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 dropped incentives to get the aging original. A real tablet interface and a performance upgrade will help gauge whether higher performance is worth the smaller screen size.
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is well known for having attacked seven-inch tablets as having to compromise too much of the interface and having little edge over a smartphone. So far, the 9.7-inch iPad has been the dominant factor where the most significant competitors, while still behind, have 10-inch screens.