Samsung's Galaxy Tab 8.9 is smaller than the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but boasts a bigger processor under the hood.
Samsung is doubling down on
its Galaxy devices, with the announcement that its Galaxy Tab 8.9 tablet will
ship Oct. 2. Over the past year, the company has affixed the "Galaxy" brand to
a growing number of smartphones and tablets, in a bid to offer an alternative
ecosystem to Apple's iOS.
The newest Galaxy Tab, with
a screen measuring 8.9 inches on the diagonal (hence the name), doesn't present
a radical twist on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 released in June. It runs Android 3.1
(code-named Honeycomb), which Samsung has "skinned" with its proprietary
TouchWiz UX interface. The Tab 8.9 also features some Samsung-built features and
applications, such as a Social Hub that syncs email delivery to a single in-box
and integrates social-networking accounts such as Facebook and
Hardware-wise, the Tab 8.9
includes a 2-megapixel camera in front and a 3-megapixel camera in the rear
(with flash and auto-focus). The 1.5GHz dual-core T250S processor powers speedy
application loading and Web browsing. Its screen resolution of 1,280x800, with
the capability for 1,080p video playback, is more than adequate for e-reading
as well as watching movies. To that end, Samsung is including its Music and
Media Hubs, along with a Readers Hub for e-books.
Samsung will offer the
Galaxy Tab 8.9 in two flavors: 16GB (for $469) and 32GB ($569). It will be
WiFi-only, with a metallic-gray backing (in contrast to the Tab 10.1's options
of either a gray or white back). For those who want a tablet more capable of
sliding into tight spaces, or fitting in one hand, Samsung's newest release
might suit better than the Tab 10.1; otherwise, there isn't a lot that
separates the two, aside from the whole 1.2 inches' worth of screen.
On paper, the Tab 8.9
overpowers the Tab 10.1, which offers a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor
(that's a dual-core chip). In brief side-by-side testing, the differences in
application-loading and page-rendering times between the two tablets appeared
negligible, but that perception could change following more testing.
Samsung's prime competition,
of course, is Apple's own ecosystem, headlined by the iPad and the iPhone. In a
bid to position itself as the alternative to the iOS way of life, Samsung is
also introducing an Android-based iPod competitor, the Galaxy Player, in the
October timeframe. Meanwhile, in courts around the world, the two companies are
locked in a vicious legal battle, with each filing claims and counterclaims of
patent infringement. For now, Apple's iPad is dominating the tablet market in
terms of sales, a situation that Samsung dearly wants to change with its
growing Tab family.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.