Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Review – How to look good on a budget

Though many of us often devote our attention to flagship devices, budget tablets and phones are particularly easy to find today. Samsung has a robust lineup of more affordable devices itself, and one of the more recent additions to that is the Galaxy Tab A7. As always, the major concern with budget devices is whether or not you’re buying something that can last a reasonable amount of time before its hardware begins to show its mid-tier quality. So, with that in mind, is the Galaxy Tab A7 a winner or is it something to avoid?

In my time with the Android 10-based Galaxy Tab A7, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how well the tablet functions. Of course, that might suggest that I was expecting this to be some kind of bottom of the barrel offering when it clearly isn’t – it has a Snapdragon 662 at its core, 3GB of RAM regardless of the model you choose, either 32GB or 64GB of storage (with a microSD slot that allows for a further 1TB of space), and a 10.4-inch LCD WUXGA+ (2000 x 1200) display.

Those specs might pale in comparison to something like a Galaxy Tab S7, but so too does the price tag. While a Galaxy Tab S7 or an iPad Air put you on the more expensive side of $500, the Galaxy Tab A7 only costs $230. After using the Galaxy Tab A7, I think that’s a great price for a tablet like this, and it’s worth considering if you want a device with a bigger screen for media, movies, or even to do some gaming.

Starting right off, the tablet comes in at 247.6mm wide x 157.4mm tall x 7.0mm thick. Maybe I just haven’t used a Samsung tablet in a while (and it has been a while), but it’s a surprisingly sleek device considering what you’re paying. The tablet has a metal unibody build which feels good – the back isn’t too slick, so it never really felt like it would slide out of my fingers as I’m holding it. The back doesn’t seem to show fingerprints or oil easily either, which is always nice to see.

The glass on the display is another matter entirely, though, as it clearly shows fingerprints and skin oil. Many devices do, of course, but they’re particularly noticeable on the Galaxy Tab A7’s display. If you’re going to get this tablet, I would definitely recommend some kind of screen protector to go along with it, especially if seeing fingerprints on your display sends you into some kind of wipedown frenzy like it does me.

Behind the glass, the display we’re working with is solid yet unremarkable. WUXGA+ resolution isn’t anything to get super excited about, but it gets the job done. To my eye, colors look nice and the display is plenty sharp. I’m sure when compared side-by-side to a more expensive tablet some flaws would become more obvious, but viewed on its own, there are no glaring issues with the display. It’s also capable of getting very bright, which is something we always love to see because it means you can use the Tab A7 in a larger variety of environments.

The sides of the tablet are more or less basic. We have a volume button and screen/power button on the right side, nothing on the left side, a pair of speakers on top, and another pair of speakers along with a headphone jack and a USB-C port on the bottom. Imagine that: we can get a headphone jack on a $230 tablet but on $1,000+ flagship phones they’re completely MIA. Truly, we are living in a strange, cruel world.

The quad speakers were one surprising aspect to me. I’m no audiophile but they sound really good to my ears; the fact that there’s four of them means that we’re already doing better than we usually would at this price point, and they’re unquestionably a lot better than many of the laptop speakers I’ve tested throughout the years. They’re capable of getting fairly loud too – loud enough that if you had a folio case or something else capable of propping it up, you could set the tablet up on a desk or table and watch a movie on it without fear of missing out on any audio.

From a performance standpoint, the Geekbench numbers don’t tell us anything we didn’t already suspect – the Galaxy Tab A7 gets a single core score of 315 and a multi-core score of 1425. That’s enough to slot it in just under the Galaxy S8 on Geekbench’s comparison tab – in fact, the Tab A7 finished just a single point under the Galaxy S8 in the multi-core score. Similarly, the compute score from Geekbench is a mere 371, slotting it just below the Redmi Note 8, which obviously isn’t great. In other words, if you’re looking for a tablet to replace a laptop or something like that, this isn’t it.

With those scores, I do wonder how long you’ll be able to use the Tab A7 before you run into noticeable performance issues. I don’t think this is a slate you can use for years on end before upgrading. At a certain point, apps are going to outpace what this tablet is capable of, and that point could only be a couple of years off as opposed to four or five.

In any case, for now performance seems fine to me, even when gaming. In the game Epic Seven for instance, I did notice a little lag when I was in menus and there were a bunch of panels filling the screen, but there wasn’t much lag to speak of during actual gameplay. With its flashy graphics, Epic Seven can put a strain on Android devices, particularly ones using older hardware, so I’m happy that I didn’t experience any major frame drops as I was playing. Swiping between screens is fluid and smooth, though you’ll might bump up against the Tab A7’s 3GB of RAM in some more intensive apps out there.

The 8MP camera around the back is serviceable, but as with many tablet cameras, it’s nothing to write home about. For the few times you’ll want to take a picture with a tablet it’ll get the job done, but it isn’t good enough to be your daily driver – especially not when the phone in your pocket almost certainly has a better camera set up on the back. The test photos I took were decent, but outdoor shots were a little washed out while the indoor shot was on the dark side.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this tablet is the battery. At a whopping 7,040mAh, you get a lot of juice out of a full charge with this battery, especially since it isn’t being used to power a top of the line processor or a super high resolution display. With the screen brightness turned to around 50%, I was able to get around 7 hours of playtime in Epic Seven with the Galaxy Tab A7. You can turn brightness down even further than that and still easily see what’s on screen, so if battery life is a major consideration for you (as it likely is), then you’ll be pleased with what you get in the Tab A7.

Galaxy Tab A7 verdict

I’m walking away from this review impressed by what the Galaxy Tab A7 has to offer at a $230 price point. While it certainly isn’t going to redefine what a tablet can be, it offers solid performance for those who primarily just need a bigger screen or – like in my case – a separate battery to play games on so they aren’t sending their phone’s battery to an early grave.

The Tab A7 obviously isn’t perfect and I do worry about its longevity. I think the tablet might start feeling sluggish in a couple of years, so this isn’t a device that you’ll buy and use on the daily for years and years to come. We wouldn’t necessarily expect that out of a $230 tablet, though, and I think the performance you get here lines up nicely with that price tag.

Is the Tab A7 for you? It is if you don’t need a tablet for any intensive work and want one to use as a media device, or if battery life is paramount. With measured expectations, I think there are a lot of people who will be pleased by what the A7 offers.

Toshiba Encore review: an 8-inch Windows tablet that struggles to stand out

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Toshiba is no stranger to Windows tablets, but what we’ve seen to date has typically been targeted at businesses or has otherwise been… limited. In that sense, the Encore is something special. It’s not just the company’s first 8-inch Windows tablet — it’s the first aimed at a truly broad audience.

That said, it faces stiff odds. Acer, Dell, Lenovo and others have comparable slates on the market, in many cases with similar features. Toshiba would have to do something truly out of the ordinary to stand out. And frankly, it doesn’t. While the Encore is a worthy device, you’ll have to be particularly enamored with its design to ignore its rivals. Read on to see what we mean.

Microsoft lets companies buy Surface tablets in bulk

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As often as Microsoft pitches the Surface and Surface Pro as tablets for getting work done, corporate customers haven’t had an easy way to order the devices by the bushel. We know that the process is now considerably smoother for eager large-scale adopters thanks to a ZDNet peek at a Commercial Order page.

“Commercial customers” can spring for large quantities of either slate model, along with an Extended Hardware Service Plan that bumps support to three years for North American buyers.

Microsoft isn’t saying just who’s eligible, although the order system is more likely to center on firms that are already comfortable buying all things Windows in volume. You’ll know how far it reaches if there’s a Surface at every cubicle on Monday morning.