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Android this week: Galaxy Tab 7.7 tested; Sprint’s nabs $99 tablet; Nexus still Nexus

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After spending a full week with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 I purchased from an importer, I’m thoroughly impressed with the small slate. U.S. consumers will see a version with LTE for Verizon’s LTE network in the near future, but my hope is that the Wi-Fi version I bought follows soon; it would be priced less than an full-cost LTE version and wouldn’t require a lengthy data contract.

The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is Samsung’s first tablet to use its Super AMOLED Plus technology, bringing vivid colors, deep blacks and super-wide viewing angles. It doesn’t hurt that the 7.7-inch screen has a higher resolution than most 720p HDTV sets either: the 1280 x 800 resolution is a treat for the eyes; especially when watching high-def videos.

Of course, the outside of a tablet is only as good as what’s inside. In this case, its Samsung’s Exynos dual-core processor running at 1.4 GHz. And this chip keeps the Galaxy Tab 7.7 humming along quickly.

I ran many benchmarks between this new tablet and several others, including the quad-core Transformer Prime, and found that the new Tab tests just as fast, if not faster.

The Prime is better for gaming, thanks to 12 graphics cores, but for most tasks the Galaxy Tab 7.7 is currently comparable. This may change in the future as more apps become optimized for quad-core chips, however.

A cheaper Android tablet option appeared this week as well. Sprint(s s) is selling the ZTE Optik for $99 with a 2-year 3G data contract or $349 without a commitment. This 7-inch slate runs Android 3.2, not Android 4.0, but has a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, two cameras, GPS radio and 1280 x 800 resolution display.

ZTE, a Chinese hardware maker, is starting to make a big push in the U.S. tablet and smartphone market; if it can build quality devices with these low price points, it should do well against the current competition.

Late in the week, some confusion arose around the Galaxy Nexus, Google’s flagship developer phone. Verizon(s vz)(s vod) currently sells the Galaxy Nexus LTE in the U.S. while an unlocked GSM version — the one I have — is sold overseas. On Google’s website for the Galaxy Nexus stock software, the Verizon version is now archived. It appeared at first glance that Verizon was taking over control of the Galaxy Nexus software for phones on its network.

Google later provided an explanation that suggests it will still provide the updates for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, saying certain software signatures on CDMA phones aren’t compatible with the Android Open Source Platform builds of Android. The situation is odd because the Sprint Nexus S, available since December of 2010, is a CDMA Nexus phone and this issue never cropped up. I suspect there’s more to this story, so I’ll be researching and watching for further developments.

8 Responses to “Android this week: Galaxy Tab 7.7 tested; Sprint’s nabs $99 tablet; Nexus still Nexus”

  1. EddieW

    Well, I picked up the 7.7 on Thursday. I sold my iPad 1 and 2 on Gazelle. I used that money to purchase the 7.7, and transferred the data plan from iPad 2 to the 7.7. Wow! So glad I did. The 4G is fast all get out, even on the subway (where the signal gets to me — otherwise, the signal goes back to 3G). It tethers fine with my MacBook Air, too, when I’m out and about. And Swype is pretty cool too. I really like the portability of the 7.7 over the iPad and the screen is great. Getting used to Android is interesting and I realize now how I missed background tasks running all the time on iPad. So far the apps I used on iPad are now on the 7.7 and so far I’ve not missed iPad at all.

  2. oh… don’t let lack of mobile/cellular capability hold you back from tablet choices. I consider the flexibility of using my cell phone for voice/data and also as a wifi tether for my tablet a really good situation. When I am on the road I tether my Nook Color running android 4.x to my 4G LTE data connection on my phone and I get great internet.

  3. I’ve tried a lot of tablets but the often overlooked Barnes & Noble Nook Color (single core), and newer Nook Tablet (dual core) are just plain awesome for the money.
    Both have wifi BGN, bluetooth, USB. Older model has 512M of memory 8G of storage and supports 32GB uSD card and is now only $200. newer is dual core, 1G memory, 16 G internal storage, Wifi BGN, Bluetooth, USB, 32G uSD card slot… $250.
    I have put Android 4.x (Ice Cream Sandwich) on the older Nook Color and its now just an awesome tablet with a great display & capabilities.