Samsung has dropped the price of the Galaxy Tab 2 to $199.99, a $50 price drop.
The tablet is Samsung’s flagship economical tablet for the 2012 holiday season. It was based off the (more powerful, but discontinued) Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, and the first tablet to ship from Samsung with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. Samsung has had trouble however with its new Tab. After dodging sales bans from litigation with Apple, the tablet went head-on initially with ASUS’s Nexus 7, and now Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.
On paper, Samsung had plenty of reasons to justify the extra $50 price tag. Unlike the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD, the Galaxy Tab 2 has a built-in rear-facing camera, which can actually take quality photos. Both ASUS and Amazon faced pricing impossibilities when adding a camera at the $200 price-point; prototype Nexus 7 units actually had rear-facing cameras built-in. Amazon breaks even on its tablets, and refused to sell Fire HD at a loss by adding in a rear camera.
Geeks will also appreciate the Galaxy Tab 2′s microSD slot, a feature Google has tended to shun in how it designed Android 4.0. Second-generation seven-inch tablets have started to trend toward deleting the microSD slot altogether.
In addition, the Tab 2 was targeting back-to-school students with a hardware-attachable keyboard, a la iPad and ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. Both the Fire HD and Nexus 7 however can use Bluetooth keyboards. And, finally, Galaxy Tab 2 arguably has a superior screen to at least the Nexus 7.
In the end, the Galaxy Tab 2′s price cut is only made possible by Samsung’s in-house chip fabrication. ASUS must license its chips from NVIDIA (Tegra 3) and Amazon from Texas Instruments (OMAP), Samsung has breathing room here in its profit margin equation that the other two companies lack.
Still, it’s a tough sale for us to recommend the Galaxy Tab 2 over Nexus 7 and Fire HD. All three run Android 4, but the Nexus 7 is a device targeted by Google for the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), meaning, Nexus 7 gets new Android releases (such as Android 4.1, Jelly Bean) from day one, whereas all other devices have to wait months (at times, almost a year) before being updated. And, Kindle Fire HD has access to Amazon-exclusive features such as Prime Instant Videos and the Kindle Lending Library, which Amazon refuses to make available for other Android devices (Prime Instant Videos is offered to iPad owners, however).
Even though the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD each have their own merits, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD lacks GPS, which both Nexus 7 and Galaxy Tab 2 have built-in.
The Galaxy Tab 2 is only a device we recommend for those that want a good tablet with a good rear-facing camera. Anyone else in the market for a seven-inch tablet should probably go for the Nexus 7, unless they prefer the ease and Amazon-exclusive features of the Kindle Fire HD.
Now, for those with unlimited, unthrottled, uncapped 4G LTE, we do also recommend taking a look at the Galaxy Tab 2 LTE on Verizon Wireless. That tablet is identical, but available for $349… without any contract. You can always use it as a Wi-Fi tablet, and drop your LTE SIM card into it from your smartphone when traveling.
Galaxy Tab 2′s price drop is already in-effect this morning at Office Depot, Best Buy, Amazon.com, and Fry’s Electronics.
Article has been edited to clarify that the Galaxy Tab 2 and Nexus 7 have standalone, autonomous GPS, but most Kindle Fire models do not. Only the Kindle Fire 8.9-inch 4G LTE variant includes GPS. Google requires GPS in all Android tablets in order to qualify for certification by Google, and the Kindle Fire is not certified by Google.