Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and new Galaxy Tab 10.1 hands-on: thinner than the iPad 2, dual-core power, TouchWiz 4.0

You know who took the iPad 2 launch pretty seriously? Samsung, that's who. Just as we had heard, the company's executives were impressed by Apple's ability to slim down its tablet and, well, it turns out that it took it as a challenge to come up with some thinner tablets of its own. That's right, in addition to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 that we have seen repeatedly teased over the last few weeks the company's announcing a totally revamped Galaxy Tab 10.1, and both slates are incredibly thin yet very well spec'd. On top of that, both will be the first Honeycomb tablets to stray from the pure Android 3.0 experience and add what Samsung's taken to calling its TouchWiz UX or TouchWiz 4.0. We've got all the details and some hands-on impressions waiting below, so hit the break!

Updated: Samsung came clean with the pricing at its press conference this morning. The WiFi 10.1 will hit on June 8th -- the 16GB version will cost you $499 and the 32GB $599. The 8.9 is $469 and $569 for 16GB and 32GB, respectively.



Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1 hardware

As you can see from the gallery, both the 10.1 and the 8.9 look extremely similar, and boy are they thin. They measure just .33-inches thick, and as you can glean from this picture, they absolutely give the .34-inch iPad some real competition in terms of dimensions. The models we saw weren't final -- in fact, they didn't even power on -- but Samsung says the 10.1 will weigh 1.31 pounds and the 8.9 just 1.03 pounds. Both tablets have microSD slots, 3.5mm headphone jacks, and SIM slots, although there will be WiFi versions of both of them. The two tablets have the same array of cameras, which includes a 3 megapixel shooter with an LED flash on the back and a 2 megapixel lens on the front.

Internally, the Tabs will pack 1GHz dual-core processors. We're assuming it will be Tegra 2 since all the Honeycomb tablets thus far have used NVIDIA's silicon, but that's unconfirmed at this point. The 8.9 will be available with 16GB of storage and a 6000mAH battery, and the 10.1 will come in both 16GB and 32GB varieties and with a 6860mAH cell. Both are said to provide 10 hours of video playback. There are full specs of both of these in the press release below.

As we said, the two 10.1 and 8.9 models we saw prior to the launch weren't working units, but the hardware certainly seemed solid and way more polished than the original 10.1 that Samsung introduced back at MWC. Speaking of which, Samsung says it has no plans to bring that original version out in the US, but it will still hit Vodafone overseas.

TouchWiz UX

We know, we also cringed when we heard Samsung was planning to start adding its own software on top of Honeycomb, but TouchWiz UX actually adds a bit to the Honeycomb experience. You can see some of the new additions in the video below, but we're particularly big fans of the ability to resize widgets. Samsung also claims that will work with Google's own widgets. Additionally, its Mini Apps Tray, which hides on the bottom of the screen, is helpful for quickly launching apps, though we're not sure why this is needed with Honeycomb's own app launcher.

Beyond those main features, TouchWiz styling has been sewn throughout the OS -- the e-mail interface looks a lot like the one on the original Galaxy Tab and even the settings menu has been Samsung-ified. We're not going to make a call on the software at the moment, especially since we only saw it running on the older 10.1, but it certainly looks like it will add some useful features on top of Google's stock experience. We should also add that Samsung seemed to imply that in some regions the 8.9 and 10.1 would launch without the TouchWiz UX, but that it would be an update at a later time.

Pricing / Outlook

We wish we had more for you on this one, but Samsung simply isn't giving up the details on the pricing right now. That said, it is promising a summer arrival for the WiFi versions. Obviously, those pricing details are ultimately going to impact our end decision on these two new tablets, but if Samsung can rise above the rest and get competitive with the dollar signs, we'd say these rail thin tablets have a real shot of rising to the top of the Honeycomb tablet list.

Show full PR text

Samsung Unveils GALAXY Tab 10.1 and GALAXY Tab 8.9, World's Thinnest Mobile Tablets

Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 and GALAXY Tab 8.9 to feature the first customized Android™ 3.0 experience
ORLANDO, March 22, 2011 – Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the global leader in Android™ mobile devices, announced two new additions to its family of GALAXY Tabs, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 and GALAXY Tab 8.9, the world's thinnest mobile tablets, measuring just 8.6 millimeters.

The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 feature Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface implemented on the Android™ 3.0 (Honeycomb) platform, offering superior multi-tasking and enhanced user interaction and navigation.

"The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 are remarkable examples of Samsung's constant innovation and show our dedication to designing premium tablets that fit the unique needs of consumers around the world", said JK Shin, President and Head of Samsung's Mobile Communications Business. "By combining Samsung's innovations in design and display with
our exciting new user experience, we've created a new class of products that will lead the tablet market."

Thinner & Lighter
The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 are the thinnest mobile tablets available. The GALAXY Tab 10.1 weighs 595 grams and 8.9 weighs 470 grams. Combining the GALAXY Tabs' ultra-thin form factor with a lightweight design adds to the outstanding mobility of these two products.

Super Fast
The new GALAXY Tabs will support HSPA+ network speeds of up to 21Mbps as well as Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n connectivity to deliver rapid mobile download speeds and reduce data transfer times. Also, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 include a 1GHz dual core application processor for a powerful multimedia and web browsing experience.

Customized User Experience "Samsung TouchWiz UX"
Samsung's TouchWiz user experience is designed with a Live Panel menu users can customize to display a variety of content on the home screen including digital pictures, favorite Web sites and social network feeds.
In addition, the interface includes an application tray of commonly used features such as task manager, calendar and music player which can be launched while other major applications are also in use, including large file downloads and document editing. This Mini Apps Tray provides a mixture of convenience and flexibility previously unheard of with tablet devices.

The Ultimate Entertainment Hub
The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 are pre-loaded with Readers Hub and Music Hub giving consumers instant access to more than 2.2 million books, 2,000 newspaper (49 languages), 2,300 magazines (22 languages), and 13 million songs. The devices are also designed with Samsung's Social Hub, which will aggregate email, instant messaging, contacts, calendar and social network connections into a single interface.
The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 feature a 3 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel front camera, providing smooth transition and seamless 1080p HD video and Flash playback for a rich entertainment experience.

Ready for Business
The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 will include an industry leading suite of solutions designed to give enterprise customers and IT managers more security. Developed in collaboration with industry-leading partners such as Cisco, Sybase, SAP and Citrix, Samsung's enterprise mobility solutions will provide flexibility and connectivity for mobile workforces, ensuring that users are able to operate more efficiently on–the-move.

GALAXY Tab 10.1
GALAXY Tab 10.1, with its WXGA TFT LCD display (1280 x 800) powered by 1GHz dual core AP, is 8.6mm thin and weighs only 595g. It is the perfect device for sharing and enjoying media content with family and friends. In addition, with its surround-sound stereo speakers and support for Flash 10.2, the GALAXY Tab 10.1 will deliver premium entertainment experience whether watching videos, movies or playing games.

GALAXY Tab 8.9
At just 8.6mm thin and weighing only 470g, the GALAXY Tab 8.9 is the perfect device for today's mobile professional. Whether writing emails on a trip or reading an eBook on the couch, the GALAXY Tab 8.9 provides the ultimate tablet experience without compromising mobility.

The GALAXY Tab 10.1 and 8.9 now join the original 7-inch GALAXY Tab to provide consumers with an unmatched array of choices to select the mobile tablet experience that fits their needs the best.

Samsung's entire line of GALAXY Tabs will be on display at the Samsung booth (#2440) at CTIA Wireless 2011, March 22 through March 24.

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