Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus now available at Amazon

Amazon is selling Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus ahead of its official release date.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus has hit U.S. shores ahead of schedule, at least among some of the larger retailers.

Amazon is now selling the new 16 gigabyte 7-inch Tab with a note that the tablet is in stock and available with the usual one-day shipping option.

But when Samsung announced the new Tab 7.0 Plus at the end of September, it said the tablet wouldn’t reach U.S. consumers until November 13.

A Samsung spokeswoman told CNET that the new tablet is now available with larger retailers that have already received the product, however, the official nationwide availability date is still November 13.

Amazon is selling the 16GB version for $399, while the 32GB edition, which still is not yet available, can be had for $499 via pre-order. Shipping is free on both models.

The Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus is an upgrade to Samsung’s first 7-inch Galaxy Tab, which hit the market about a year ago. Though many initial reactions were positive overall, several reviews, including the one published by CNET, criticized the tablet for being little more than a big Android phone rather than a serious alternative to a Netbook.

The new Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus builds on its predecessor with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Beyond the internal storage, users can grab up to 32GB of additional capacity by using a microSD slot. The device also includes a 2-megapixel camera in front and a 3-megapixel camera with auto focus and flash on the back.

Samsung has been cagey about revealing the actual number of 7-inch Tabs that have been shipped or sold. The company’s latest policy keeps it from releasing actual shipment figures. And it created some confusion last year over the use of the terms “shipments” and “sales.”

Samsung initially said in December that it had sold 1 million Galaxy Tab units. Then in January, it claimed it had sold 2 million units. During a later earnings call, an executive admitted that those numbers didn’t refer to consumer sales but rather to the number of tablets shipped to retailers. The executive used the term “sell-in” to reflect shipments to retailers and “sell-out” to reflect sales to consumers.

The company has also smacked into tablet trouble in the patent courts. Last year Apple filed a suit against Samsung, alleging that the Galaxy series of smartphones and tablets violated patents related to the iPhone and iPad. Since then the companies have been busy countersuing each other and aiming to get each other’s products banned around the world.

The new Galaxy Tab also adds to a dizzying array of tablets already sold or announced by Samsung. In addition to the original 7-inch Tab, the company offers the 8.9-inch and the 10.1-inch editions. It also recently announced a 7.7-inch version.

Correction, 9:15 a.m. PT: This story initially misstated which company the spokeswoman represents. It is Samsung.

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