When Samsung first launched a tablet two years ago, it was said to be playing catch up with Apple's hugely popular and seemingly unparalleled iPad, what with the latter's sleek aluminium body and oh-so-stunning screen. The first Tab from Samsung however managed to live up to the expectations with its impressive build quality and quickly became popular as a refreshing Android alternate to the iPad. What's more, since the very first most of its tablets have had the functionality of a handset and this feature has never been noticed as much as it is now being, with Samsung's latest Galaxy Tab 2 310.

The build quality of the Tab 2, as has always been the case with Samsung Tabs, is sturdy and sleek. The 7-inch Tab 2 sits comfortably in the palm. What might not be so comfortable is the tendency to instinctively bring it to your ear every time you have to receive a call. One relief for those upgrading to this tablet is that you won't have to go for a microSIM, the slot is designed for a regular SIM card to be inserted.

User Interface

A small tweak in the home page is the availability of Mini Apps when you tap an arrow icon right at the bottom of the screen. By default, you'll find apps ranging from Alarm, Email, Music Player to Task Manager and World Clock. As far as customising goes, you can only re-arrange these to change the order of appearance but not replace them with one of your choice. The Tab 2 comes with the usual suite of apps you'd expect on any Android device - Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube etc. Samsung's proprietary ones include services such as Game Hub which recommends a bunch of social games as well as paid premium games. However, the download is through Google Play anyway, so we don't see how this is a value-add.

ChatON, Samsung's attempt at providing an integrated chat client, is a bit of a dampener. At a time, where most smartphone users are hooked to WhatsApp or Google Chat, ChatON has little to allure IM-addicts with.

After using the S-Memo on the Galaxy S II we find it hard to downgrade to the regular Memo app on the Tab 2. S-Memo, an app we loved using on the Note, basically makes for a great app to use for taking down small notes, making memos, attaching pictures or location maps and sharing them with your friends. The experience probably would not be the same without a stylus (that we used for this app while reviewing the Note).

Readers Hub also remains the same ol' interface. The app is a digital library that you can carry around in your pocket. Newspapers, books and magazines can be purchased and downloaded from the Kobo digital bookstore.

Polaris Office has undergone an interesting revamp since we used it last. The interface no longer looks boring with it 3D-ish scroll interface to choose your function. You also get four simplified icons to navigate the app. A ‘Browser' to go through all kinds of documents, presentations or spreadsheets you might have on the tablet. You can even open a Cloud-enabled account to store and access all your documents online.

The device comes pre-loaded with AllShare, an app that lets you share multimedia content between the Tab and DLNA-certified devices. Samsung Kies Air was missing on the Tab that we reviewed.

Doubling up

Although we did attract a lot of undue attention during our testing period, when every once in a while we'd talk into a 7-inch slab of glass and aluminium, the Tab 2 310 does make for a very good phone. The voice quality on the Tab is really good and if you choose to pair it with a Bluetooth headset for regular use, you will have yourself a good handset.

The Tab 2 runs on a 1GHz processor and there were times when there was a bit of a lag while running multiple apps simultaneously. Lesser demanding activities such as reading an e-book or surfing the Web did not take a toll on the overall speed.

The device comes with a standard Lithium-ion 4,000mAh battery. This translates to more than a day's usage with only a couple of voice calls and intermittent app activity.

The verdict

If you really want to cut down on the tech clutter and have your tablet double up as a smartphone, it makes sense to go for the Tab 2 310. Those looking to buy a device for the sole purpose of using it as a tablet will find better options in the market right now.

Love – Slim form factor, oh it is a phone too!

Hate – Occasional lags, average camera

Rs 23,250

(This article was published on July 9, 2012)
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