Samsung banks on brand recognition with its Galaxy Tab 3 tablet trio

Samsung seems to be playing it safe with the latest entries in the once-vaunted Galaxy Tab lineup.

The 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3.

The 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3.

We already knew Samsung's trio of new Galaxy Tabs looked uninspiring on paper. Now they have unremarkable price tags to match.

The Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, 8.0 and 10.1 will sell for $199, $299, and $399 in the United States, respectively. They'll be available July 7 at a long list of major retailers, as well as at Samsung's website. All will be Wi-Fi only, with nary a cellular option available.

In terms of tech specs, it's hard to tell what makes these tablets deserve the "Tab 3" moniker, since they're very similar to the slates Samsung sells already, albeit redone in a Galaxy phone-esque casing. And compared to other tablets on the market, Samsung's new offerings hardly constitute a bargain.

Digging into the stats

The Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, for instance, has a 1024-by-600 resolution display, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera, and built-in IR blaster--just like the existing Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. The main differences are a narrower bezel, hardware buttons for home, back and menu, a new 1.3-megapixel front camera and a slightly faster dual-core processor, at 1.2 GHz instead of 1.0 GHz. You can still pick up a Galaxy Tab 2 for $30 less, or just pick up a Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD or Nook HD, all of which have better specs for equal or lower prices.

Samsung's 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 3 seems like an even worse deal compared to its predecessor, which now sells for $300. Both tablets have 1280-by-800 resolution displays, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, front- and rear-facing cameras, and built-in IR blasters. With the Tab 3, all you really get for the extra $100 is an Intel processor and a different case design with hardware buttons for home, back and menu. The same $400 could also get you Google's Nexus 10, which has a much better display and the latest version of Android.

Although the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 has no direct successor, its specs are nearly identical to those of the Galaxy Note 8.0, albeit with 1.5 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB. The main difference is the lack of an S Pen stylus in the Tab 3, which might help justify the $100 price difference. Still, as a consumption tablet it's out-priced by the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 ($269) and Nook HD+ ($149), which both have larger displays with sharper screen resolutions.

Relying on its name and network

The sad thing is that Samsung might actually sell some of these tablets, thanks to its own name recognition and broad support from retailers. All three Tabs will be available at Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart, H.H. Gregg, Office Depot, Toys 'R' Us, P.C. Richard & Son, Fry's, Newegg and Sears. And with Best Buy hosting "Samsung Experience" stores-within-stores, there will be plenty of opportunity for shoppers to come across Samsung's new offerings.

Samsung has done such great work on smartphones that it's all the more disappointing to see these three Galaxy Tabs come to market. With no interesting features and uncompetitive price tags, the new lineup seems like a lame attempt by Samsung to cash in on brand recognition.

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Jared Newman

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