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Top 7 inch touch screen tablets – what makes them so popular?

The 7 inch format was, until recently, synonymous with touch screen tablets. When companies realized the potential of touch screen devices, they decided to add a couple of inches to smart phones and this is how the 7 inch tablet appeared. These devices are usually associated with Android. The OS was initially developed as an operating systems for mobile phones with 3 to 4 inches screens and a leap to 7 inch was not that difficult to do.

Also, some people still perceive 7 inch tablets as some sort of oversized phones and it was easier to make the transition using the same OS as on the phone. After the massive success of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 (about which we’ll talk later on), any lilliputian company with a dream started manufacturing 7 inchers. Most of them have resistive touchscreens, which means touch input is really tiresome and you’ll end up using a stylus instead.

The other type of display you’ll find on a 7 inch tablet is the capacitive screen, which allows touch input. Usually, more expensive tablets go for a 1024×600 resolution with multi touch support, which is usually paired with some HD playback and more intensive graphic applications. Other tablets, that form probably 80% of the 7 inch market, come with the standard 800 x 480 resolution, some of the screens supporting multi touch.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Samsung Galaxy Tab

In terms of video performance, most 7 inch tablets can play clips in 720p encoding and a handful of them can deal with 1080p– but those tend to cost a little extra, considering they have better processors or even graphic accelerators able to decode HD video. In terms of Flash support, is a little hectic, as tablets packing Android pre 2.2 will not able to play Flash content. The few tablets coming with Windows 7 are able to play this, of course.

Usually, tablets able of better video playback performance are also capable of some gaming, most of it based on touch input and benefiting from a gyro sensor. Anyway, considering that the screen is rather small, most 7 inch tablets come with HDMI ports, which means you can connect the slate to a big TV and play content there.

In terms of connecting to the internet, virtually any tablet comes with WiFi and blue tooth, meaning you can connect to the internet via hot spots in cafes, libraries, at home or whatever. WiFi is not always reliable or very fast, so if you want a constant connection, there are some 7 inch tablets coming with 3G or even 4G connectivity, meaning you can also use the tablet as a cell phone, as there’s a SIM card slot.

Dell Streak 7

Dell Streak 7

Sure, for this you’ll have to buy a data plan from a carrier, but if you have to stay connected at all times, this might be the best solution for you. Storage is usually available in 8, 16 and 32 GB versions, but all tablets offer the chance to expand through an SD card slot, up to 32 GB usually.

7 inch tablets usually have a plastic finish and are most of the time black or white, although there are some exceptions. They are quite slim and light weight- think smart phone with a larger screen. The medium weight for a 7 inch tablet  is around 300-400 grams and they go for around 8-12 mm in thickness.

Another very important aspect is battery life and most 7 inch tablets will deliver a good 5-6 hours of constant use or as much as a couple of days in stand by and in power saving mode. Those with less stellar screens tend to last for a longer time and if you turn the WiFi module off, you can save enough juice. Anyway, battery life decays over time, but straight out of the box, kind of any tablet will stretch for some hours of video playback and browsing the web.

ViewPad 7 inch tablet

ViewPad 7 inch tablet

Most 7 inch tablets have at least one camera, usually in front, for video calling. Newer models, however, go for dual camera systems, the one in the back having better quality and coming with 720p support for video recording. Now, let’s take a look at a few of the most well known and worth spending money on 7 inch tablets.

First off, it’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, which basically introduced the form factor to a broad audience. The tablet has a 1024 x 600 resolution display with multitouch support, Android 2.2 or 2.3, a 1 GHZ Hummingbird processor, graphics accelerator, WiFi and 3G, just to name the most important features. It was and is the most successful 7 incher, and the second best sold tablet, after the iPad. It offers a reliable and fast experience, but right now the OS and part of the hardware seems just a little obsolete, but it’s still a quality purchase. You can get it for as low as $100 if you buy a data plan to take advantage of the 3G modem.

Next, we have a non Android tablet, namely the BlackBerry Playbook. The tablet uses the proprietary Blackberry OS and impressed during demos with great multitasking and 3D rendering capabilities, as well as great security features. It has a dual core processor able to cope with 1080p, 1 GB of RAM, two cameras able of HD recording, a 1024 x 600 multi touch screen and has support for Flash 10.1. More, it’s said that the tablet will have support for Android apps. There’s no clear launch date, but we should see the tablet on the market any day now, for a starting price in the region of $400.

The Dell Streak 7 is the bigger brother of the 5 inch tablet-phone hybrid Streak 5 and is a pretty decent tablet, coming with 4G support. It has a dual core processor, a 800×480 capacitive display, Android 2.2 on board and support for WiFi and 4G. You can buy it cheaper if you go for a data plan, but you’ll be tied to a contract then. Overall, it gives good performance and is very responsive, although it would have been nice to have a better resolution. It’s up for grabs for $449 with 4G and $380 with WiFi.

The Asus Eee Pad Memo is one of the first 7 inch slates out there to pack Android 3.0 Honeycomb and comes with some interesting features. It has a dual core Snapdragon processor and comes with a stylus for drawing and taking notes- but don’t despair, the screen is capacitive and supports also touch input. The cheapest version is said to arrive this spring for about 499 bucks.

To round things up, 7 inch tablets are here to stay, although people say we’ll see more and more 10 inch tablets out there. 7 inch tablets are easy to carry around, offer good performance (most of them) and the flexibility to connect to the internet from virtually anywhere.

Viliiv X7 Windows 7 tablet

Viliiv X7 Windows 7 tablet

There’s also some video and gaming thrown in the mix, some of the tablets being able to cope with 1080p content and pretty demanding games. Most 7 inchers run on Android, but there a couple of exceptions, like the Blackberry Playbook and some tablet running on Windows.

About the Author
Mark is an Editor here at Based in London where he studies Screenwriting and Production, he blogs about technology as a hobby. He's mainly in charge with news here on the site, but he doesn't mind publishing some guides, tests and editorials from time to time as well.

Last updated: May 5, 2014 | Published: March 24th, 2011
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