When we finally gathered enough willpower to take our eyes off the Galaxy Tab 7.7 superb display, we noticed that the slate, just like the rest of the Honeycomb bunch, packs few hardware controls. With all the navigation done on the screen itself, there’s no need for hardware buttons on the front panel. All you get there is the earpiece and the video-call/chat camera (you do remember this slate doubles as a phone, right?).
Unlike the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 has the portrait orientation as its default mode. When you hold it that way the earpiece goes on top where it belongs, while the Samsung logos can be read without tilting your head. Of course you are free to use it however you see fit, but we are going to be holding it this way while describing the rest of its functional elements.
So at the bottom you have the stereo speakers, the microphone and the Samsung proprietary port that is used for charging the Galaxy Tab 7.7, connecting it to a computer or providing HD TV-out. Once again, we don’t get a standard microUSB jack from a slate and, frankly we are starting to lose hope that it will soon become the norm, if ever.
There’s another microphone pinhole and a 3.5mm audio jack on top of the Galaxy Tab 7.7.
The left side holds the microSD card slot and the SIM slot. Since Android Honeycomb has already resolved all of the issues it had with microSD cards, you can now use that slot to expand the 16GB internal memory by up to 32GB and it would be much cheaper than purchasing a 48GB version of the device.
The right side of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 holds its only two hardware keys – the volume rocker and the power key that also doubles as a screen lock control. Below them is the Infrared port that lets you use your slate as a remote control the old-school way. We don’t really see that much use for an Infrared port on a slate, but Samsung obviously had some special application in mind for it. And it doesn’t hurt having it, does it?
We complete our hardware inspection at the back where we find the 3.15 MP 720p-video-capturing camera. Tablets are hardly the most comfortable devices for taking pictures (even relatively compact ones like the Galaxy Tab 7.7) so the camera is more of an accessory than an essential feature. That’s why we’ve no reason to frown at the specs – it’s as good as most users will need anyway.
Under the hood lays a 5100 mAh battery, which should last it through at least a day of on and off usage. So far we don’t have a comment on the real-life performance of the battery. The battery is non-removable, but that's par on the course for tablets these days.
The whole tablet seems pretty well built. And you really gotta take it in your hand to appreciate how thin the slate is.
We didn’t spend that much time with it, but we didn’t see a single element on the body that looked either cheap or out of place. And as we give Samsung a well-deserved pat on the back, we move to the software part of the preview. Join us on the next page.