An Upgraded 7-inch ‘Galaxy Tab’ Android Tablet? Let’s Hope So

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In a rumor that’s as shaky as rumors get, Samsung may be working on an updated version of its 7-inch Galaxy Tab.

That’s right, the original iPad rival that was quickly overshadowed by newer, shinier competition — including the iPad 2 and a bigger Samsung tablet — is reportedly getting a refresh, according to Italy’s unofficial Samsung HD Blog.

And you know what? That’s not such a bad idea.

The original Samsung Galaxy Tab was part of a rare tablet breed that’s small enough to hold in one hand and comfortable to grip with two hands. Compared to 10-inch tablets like the iPad, it’s better for thumb-typing, gaming and reading e-books, but it’s worse for video and doesn’t offer as many possibilities for large-screen apps. For that matter, the Galaxy Tab runs Android 2.2, which was never meant for tablets, so using one is kind of like wielding a gigantic smartphone.

(MORE: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab: The Anti-iPad)

Since the Galaxy Tab launch, the iPad has seen more direct competition in Motorola’s Xoom, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, T-Mobile’s G-Slate, Acer’s Iconia Tab A500 and Asus’ Eee Pad Transformer. But what all of these 10-inch tablets have demonstrated is that Honeycomb, a version of Android that’s designed for tablets, is rough around the edges. The interface is more complicated than the iPad’s — fine if you’re tech-savvy, but bad for everyone else — and more importantly, there aren’t a lot of tablet-optimized Android apps available. Not yet, at least.

So maybe Samsung was on to something with its blown-up smartphone.

Android 2.2 may not be quite right for tablets, but at least it’s a solid platform. And while smartphone apps look kind of weird on a 10.1-inch screen, they don’t really feel out of place on the 7-inch Galaxy Tab.

Time for a confession: I own one of these things. Woot, a website for daily deals, was selling refurbished Galaxy Tabs for $260 (Wi-Fi models now sell for $350), and I caved. I wanted a 7-inch tablet and got tired of waiting for something better. Truth is, the Galaxy Tab has been good to me, but there’s no denying how stale it feels. Flash video chugs. The frame rate occasionally jumps. Sometimes the entire OS gets bogged down. In other words, hardware is more responsible for the Galaxy Tab’s woes than software.

So when Samsung HD Blog says the company is building a new Galaxy Tab 7, with a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM and most importantly, the non-tablet Android 2.3, I hope it’s true even if the source of the information is unclear. It wouldn’t be a cutting-edge device, but at a time when Android tablet makers are coming up short with their iPad clones, a revamped Galaxy Tab would at least offer something different.

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