In late 2010, Apple founder Steve Jobs proclaimed that a tablet device with a 7-inch display was "dead on arrival" and a screen size of no less than 10 inches was required for success.
It's true that few small tablets have been commercial blockbusters, but some have been successful enough to avoid the "DOA" label. Of particular note is the Samsung Galaxy lineup, which has been relatively popular, and now offers devices with displays ranging from 5.3 inches (the "Note" tablet) to 11.6 inches (the "Slate").
I recently got my hands on the newly refreshed Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, and if this device is any indication, the market for small tablets is alive and well.
The major difference between the Galaxy Tab and the iPad is that the Tab is actually small enough to be shoved into a pocket. This might not seem like a big deal, but I work with an iPad every day, and having to carry it around everywhere is annoying. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 is also superbly executed. The device is lighter than an iPad, yet the chassis feels very solid and is of high quality.
The dual-core 1.4 GHz processor gives the Tab incredible responsiveness and 1280x800 Super AMOLED Plus display is crisp and easily readable.
The Tab offers "Split View" support, meaning it's possible to actually work with multiple apps at the same time, on the same screen. The high resolution of the Galaxy Tab's 7.67-inch display ensured that it was extremely workable.
Verizon's 4G LTE network is available on the Tab and the device is capable of using all of that bandwidth to its full potential – HD video was crystal clear and didn't degrade or require much buffering time, and Internet browsing was snappy.
The Galaxy Tab 7.7 has front-and rear-facing cameras. The rear camera is 3-megapixels (with a flash) and can capture HD quality video, while the front-facing camera is 2 megapixels and suitable for video chats and conferences.
As usual with Samsung devices, you get more in terms of interface and usability. The Galaxy Tab comes with Samsung Hub, which includes social, music, reader and game components – in short, an analog of the iTunes store.
Samsung's swype keyboard interface also deserves mention. When tracing my finger over the "keys" on the onscreen keyboard, the device automatically enters the word – it works very well, and is a huge timesaver.
All in all, an extremely capable tablet – I found the size to be ideal – able to handle all the tasks I normally perform using an iPad, and without exception, the Galaxy Tab was as good if not better. The Galaxy Tab 7.7 costs $499.99 with a 2-year data contract, and $699.99 without.