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Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 310 Review
We have had a love-hate relationship with Samsung’s 7-inch tablets. The first one, the P1000 was downright ridiculous as it was bulky, glitchy and simply too expensive, especially with the iPad coming at a similar price. The one thing that was good was the portable 7-inch display, which made the tablet easy to be carried around. That was followed by the Galaxy Tab 620 or the Galaxy 7.0 Plus and that device did impress us enough, but the price was still quite high. Enter the Galaxy Tab 2 310, the umpteenth device in Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs range.
Not AMOLED, but good enough
For the record, Samsung has been manufacturing tablets in various form factors - from the 10.1 to the 8.9 to the 7.7 and the popular 7-inch screen size. Well, that was just round one, as Samsung tossed all of them back into its rabbit hole to get the second generation of Galaxy Tabs, which this device, the Tab 2 310 is also a part of. The Galaxy Tab 2 310 is one interesting product. It’s under the 20k price tag, has 3G (and calling) support and a nice portable form factor. But does it withstand our litmus test? Read on to find out.
Design and Build Quality
The Tab 2 310 is a fine looking tablet. We’re starting off with this line, because most people have started discounting the plastic-y design of Samsung products. It has a premium feel to it, something which has not often been synonymous with Samsung’s earlier offerings. The tablet comes with a metallic back and a black bezel around the front, which is extremely prone to fingerprints. Let’s have a quick tour of the device.
It can make calls too
The front consists of a 7-inch WSVGA PLS TFT display with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. It has a earpiece (for calling purposes) and a front VGA camera above and the Samsung logo below the screen. The bezel was a bit too large for our liking, though. The SIM card and microSD card slot are located on the left, while the power button and the volume rocker are located to the right. The buttons have a good amount of feedback and the flaps for the slots are sturdy enough for prolonged use. The 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the top, while the proprietary connector jack and the speaker grill are located on the bottom. The Tab 2 310 comes with a 3 megapixel rear camera sans flash. Under the hood is a non-removable 4000mAh battery.
With a weight of 345 grams, the Tab 2 310 is light enough to be portable and that chunky feeling of the old tablets disappears, which is definitely a good thing. At 10.5mm, it’s slightly bigger than the Tab 620, but we’re not complaining as the tablet still feels sturdy and durable. Probably, the Samsung Galaxy S III could have learnt a thing or two from this model.
Features and Performance
The Galaxy Tab 2 310 is powered by a Ti OMAP Dual-core 1GHz processor, it has 16GB of user memory and 1GB of RAM. The device runs on Samsung’s TouchWiz UI atop Android 4.0. Honeycomb has been ditched for good measure and Samsung has got a few cool features to the table. A universal bar at the bottom lets you immediately access your most used apps. The widgets on the homescreen haven’t changed much, but why replace something that’s not broken? The interface is vibrant and the PLS TFT display is bright and clear, though not of the AMOLED variety. Under full brightness, it’s visible under direct sunlight.
Coming back to the interface, TouchWiz is both functional and lag free, which is a big plus. It may not be as beautiful as the other custom interfaces, but it more than makes up with the numerous customizations and tweaks.
We managed to throw a couple of benchmarks at the Tab 2 310 and here’s how it fared. Sunspider gave it a score of 2268.6ms, while browser mark gave it a score of 88751. Linpack placed it under the Prime, at a score of 37 points in single thread and 58 points in the multi thread. The device got a Quadrant score of 2370 and an AnTuTu score of 5319 points. It’s quite a mixed bag out here really, but in the real world, the Galaxy Tab 2 310 is a pretty fast device. Multitasking has been well taken care of and the device only had momentary hiccups. Overall, it’s powerful enough to take care of your needs.
Like the 620, the Tab 2 310 is a powerful media device. Right from the interface to the media codec support, Samsung has everything pretty well covered. The device supports FLAC files and is DivX HD certified. The interface is well thought of and lets you quickly arrange your music and media files neatly. We tested the audio using our test headphones and it is, in one word, awesome. The added microSD card support lets you expand your range of media collection, something that wasn’t a part of the other bigger tablets. The device has DLNA support as well, so you can stream to a DLNA compatible TV by simply pressing a button.
The music interface
Powerful media player
Even though it may not have been treated with some super AMOLED goodness, the 310 has a good enough display for personal viewing and it makes for a good portable media player. Also as part of the media department are the inbuilt Video maker and photo editor apps. The Video maker, in particular does help you make some cool movies on the move. To sum it up, Samsung has given this section the A+ treatment.
The Galaxy Tab 310 might be priced under the Rs. 20,000 bracket, but it’s got a ton of connectivity options. For example, you can plug-in a SIM card and browse the web at high speeds using 3G connectivity. There’s HSPA+ support, which means theoretical speeds of upto 21Mbps, assuming your mobile provider supports it. The SIM card slot is neatly placed alongside the the edge of the tablet, right next to the microSD card slot. There’s also Wi-Fi support using the faster 802.11n standard and Samsung hasn’t left out Bluetooth 3.0 support either. Wi-Fi Direct capability means that you can connect directly with other compatible devices without the need for a Wi-Fi router or switch in between. The included GPS capability means you can use the Galaxy Tab as a GPS device, with the right apps installed, offering you directions and location information as you drive.
Because it’s a phone as well, we tested the calling functionality and the recipient could hear us clearly in our test calls. The speaker was loud enough as well. Browsing is buttery smooth and the tablet showed no signs of slowing down despite multiple tabs being open. However, if you’re loading too much flash content, you’ll have to be a little patient. Typing is quicker when in portrait mode, as you have to reach out for the letters in landscape, but that’s more of a personal choice. If you do want to get work done more quickly, an added keyboard accessory definitely helps.
The Galaxy Tab 2 310 comes bundled with Google’s latest Android build, version 4.0.3, so you immediately get the benefits of the latest Android features like Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps et al. Samsung has integrated games and books into the tablet using apps called the Samsung Hub Widget. It’s basically a custom app that has all of your games and books listed in a slightly different manner. Most of this content is available on Google’s Play store as well.
S Planner is another such customized app by Samsung. It’s a calendar app that has a built-in to-do list feature. Syncing is possible with any of your accounts linked to the tablet. One of the more impressive bundled apps is called Polaris document editor, which is basically an office suite. The interface is minimalistic, but it's got a decent set of features hidden away in the menus. The touchscreen interface and app work well together when it comes to text related work, such as documents and presentations. Spreadsheets on the other hand, as is the case with any other touch interface device, is a bit tacky to use.
Samsung’s ChatON mobile client is present on the tablet, as is Samsung Kies, which is the tool you’ll use to connect the tablet to PCs. There’s also Kies Air, which allows you to do this wirelessly, without having to connect a cable to your PC, each time you want to transfer a few files to the tablet.
The Tab 2 310 comes with a 3 megapixel rear camera, which captures more noise than detail. Autofocus isn’t present and there’s no LED flash, either, so indoor shots are an absolute no-go. It’s best reserved for casual shooting and there’s not much to boast about in this department. It also has a front camera for video calling, which works as expected.
Noise creeps into images
Poor indoor shots
Video recording is possible at 720p, but we had big issues focussing. A lot of noise crept into the video, making it difficult to get the desired result. We’ve seen a lot of devices more capable than this one and we’d recommend you don’t rely on the 310’s camera.
While the camera section was a big downer, the Tab 2 310 manages to lift spirits by staying powered for a long time. It comes with a 4000mAh battery and in our video drain test, it lasted for 9 hours 20 minutes at a stretch. This was with brightness set to 75 percent, Wi-Fi turned off and without a SIM card. Under normal usage, you’ll be able to get more than a day’s worth. If you are using 3G services, the number will drop, though.
Worth a buy?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 310 is priced at Rs. 19,900 (MRP). Besides the camera, Samsung has managed to get everything correct with the Tab 2 310, including the price tag. Currently, in this price bracket, there’s not much to compete against it, so if you’re looking forward to purchasing a portable 3G tablet under 20k, look no further than this one.