Samsung Announces a New 7-inch Galaxy Tab, but Why?

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Samsung’s never been one to hold back on new phones and tablets, but even so, the newly-announced Galaxy Tab 2 is a puzzler.

In terms of tech specs, the tablet is nearly identical to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, which launched last year. Like the Plus, the Tab 2 has a 7-inch, 1024-by-600 resolution display, a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and cameras in front and back. Last year’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus actually has a faster processor (1.2 GHz instead of 1 GHz), and better front-facing camera (2-megapixels instead of VGA).

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Samsung is talking up the Galaxy Tab 2 as its first tablet running Android 4.0, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, but keep in mind that the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is getting an upgrade to ICS this year. And although ICS has some cool features, such as resizeable widgets, a built-in photo editor and the ability to unlock the device with face recognition, it’s not a huge upgrade over Android Honeycomb.

The Tab 2 will also feature Samsung’s AllShare Play service, which lets users beam media to other AllShare devices, such as PCs and Samsung TVs, but that alone doesn’t justify new hardware. Besides, I don’t see why AllShare Play couldn’t be delivered to the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus in a software update.

My only remaining suspicion is that the Galaxy Tab 2 will be some sort of budget tablet to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet. Samsung, however, hasn’t yet announced pricing or availability.

Maybe we’ll hear more at Mobile World Congress this month, and Samsung will have a better explanation for why this tablet is necessary. But to quote the company itself, it seems that the next big thing is already here.

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