Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus boasts Honeycomb, dual-core CPU

Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus on Friday, saying the 7-inch Android(s goog) tablet will initially launch in Austria and Indonesia, but later expand to the U.S. and most other regions around the world. The slate is an upgrade from the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab that launched around this time last year. The new version runs the tablet-focused Honeycomb version of Android.

Among the improved hardware are a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 720p high-definition video recording, 1080p video playback and support for 21 Mbps HSPA+ networks. Here in the U.S., the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus will run on AT&T’s(s t) mobile broadband network unless Samsung later builds a GSM version specifically for T-Mobile or a CDMA model for Verizon(s vz) and Sprint(s s). Samsung’s new slate is slightly thinner than its predecessor at 9.96 millimeters. It also supports Wi-Fi channel bonding for faster wireless connectivity.

Some specifications are unchanged from last year’s Galaxy Tab, so this isn’t a complete overhaul of the device. The tablet still uses a 3-megapixel sensor for the rear camera, although the front camera is boosted to 2 megapixels. The 7-inch display is an IPS LCD, so don’t look for Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus technology which brings brighter, more vivid colors. And the screen resolution remains at 1024×600 pixels, unlike the 1280×800 screen resolution on the slightly larger Galaxy Tab 7.7 slate.

As a current Samsung Galaxy Tab owner who has used the tablet daily since December of last year, I see little reason to upgrade. There are some nice, new hardware features that I’d like, but I’m more impressed by the Galaxy 7.7 with its higher resolution and better display. Additionally, my Tab was bought with a two-year data plan contract. I’d either have to pay an early termination fee or pay full price for the new tablet, as a result.

This situation is part of the problem for nearly all tablets other than Apple’s iPad(s aapl), which is sold without a contract. Instead, the iPad is purchased at full price with the option of monthly data plans as needed. Samsung, Acer, Asus, Motorola (s mmi), LG and others who build Android tablets would do well to work out similar deals with carriers. In not doing so, their tablets with mobile broadband are tied to lengthy contracts that may garner a few more sales up front due to subsidized hardware prices, but limit upgrades and sales of new models down the road.