Name: Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
Specs: 8.9-inch WXGA TFT display, 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra dual-core processor, Android 3.1 Honeycomb OS, Dual-cameras, 1080p video playback, 1GB of RAM, Wi-fi, Bluetooth, and DLNA-enabled.
The Back Story: It was only three months ago when we got our hands-on with the ginormous Galaxy Tab 10.1. Fashioning a slimmer, solid, and lightweight construct, along with a drop-dead gorgeous screen and countless multimedia vistas, it help set the mold for future Android tablets. But Samsung’s flagship tab has recently come under fire for allegedly infringing Apple patents, forcing international markets to pull the device from retail stores. Yet with all the legal drama, the electronics giant continues to push solid domestic sales, and looks to stay atop of the Android throne by introducing a smaller rendition of its popular tablet: the Galaxy Tab 8.9.
Combining the high-powered performance of its predecessor, while tackling a smaller figure, the question remains: Does the Galaxy Tab 8.9 offer anything new to the series? And is it capable of competing against holiday heavyweights such as the iPad 2 and Amazon Fire Kindle?
• Smaller and sexy build: This diminished version of the Galaxy Tab barely beats out the Acer Iconia A100 as the slimmest tablet on the market, shedding a noticeable 1.2 inches and measuring at 9.1 x 6.2 x .33 inches. The shorter construct provides for easier portability and serves as a more comforting fit in-hand compared to its oversized counterpart. Also, the slate gray finish and solid build manifests the opulent, sturdy look that was missing from the previous Galaxy models.
• Amazing display and faster performance: Samsung’s 8.9-inch widescreen HD touchscreen produces clear-cut visuals, bright contrast levels, denser pixel resolution, and sharp onscreen text. Netflix videos look amazing, plus YouTube clips and 2D games look exceptionally well on the smaller screen. Great viewing angles can also be found here. NVIDIA’s dual-core continues to show why it’s the processor of choice for all Android platforms (smartphones and tablets), as we encountered better performance speeds with the new Galaxy Tab. Flash-heavy sites opened much quicker, menu navigation was a breeze, and multitasking stood strong—monitoring 20 apps in the background without any hiccups. Everything ran smooth.
• Updated user-interface: The latest version of TouchWiz brings some of the same customizations and productivity facets found on the Tab 10.1 (which you can read up on in our review). We found the motion settings option to be the coolest feature, as it provided the flexibility to move apps and widgets onto any of the five homescreens by holding down the selected icon and panning the device left or right. Another standout option includes the Mini Apps tray located at the bottom of the screen, storing six utility apps (task manager, calendar, world clock, memo pad, calculator, and music player), all of which overlap the current running program via mini window.
• Additional standout features: Don’t be blinded by the replicated spec sheet because there are still a fresh number of hallmarks found on the Tab 8.9. On the multimedia end, Samsung welcomes the Readers Hub to its Hub family, giving readers access to over 2.2 million books, 2,000 newspapers, and 2,300 magazines. Security-wise, you can remotely lock or wipe data, also track down the tablet thanks to FindMyMobile software. Other niche fancies worth noting are the AllShare app for wireless content sharing, plus the Photo Editor and Movie Studio, which allows users the opportunity to create and edit images and movie clips on the go.
• Efficient battery life: Expect about eight to nine hours of power from the 6100 mAh battery. That's good enough for some occasional web browsing, media streaming, and Angry Birds action. A full charge will get you through the entire day, while moderate use can pull up to 10+ hours.
• Same spec sheet and wi-fi-only: Aside from a smaller form factor, and touchscreen, the manufacturer loaded the Tab 8.9 with the same hardware and features found on the 10.1 model. And just like big brother, wireless capability is limited to wi-fi only. So no wi-fi, no online connection.
• Uncompetitive pricing: It’s $30 cheaper than the iPad 2, yet it’s only $30 cheaper than the bigger version. Some might be compelled to drop the extra cash for a bigger screen or pick up Apple's tablet. And with the Kindle Fire tackling a $200 price tag, it's a tough sell for tablet seekers.
• Lack of output slots and ports, again: More of the same applies here, as Samsung overlooks an HDMI output to mirror content onto an HDTV, along with an microSD card slot. Memory hounds will have to settle for the 32GB model in order to store large media libraries.
Final Say: In short, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 is practically the same tablet as the 10.1, with a slimmer profile and a few noticeable upgrades. Now is that a bad thing? Oh course not. The Galaxy Tab still stands as the premier Android tablet with its vivid, bright display, enhanced UI, and great battery performance. Its slenderized physique only sweetens the deal. On the other hand, the Tab 8.9 does little to set itself a part from the 10.1, bearing the exact troubles of the last model such as wi-fi-only connection and no extra slots or ports. And with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 shipping in a few weeks, consumers might wait it out or seek other alternatives, mainly the iPad and Kindle Fire. But for Android enthusiasts, Samsung's newest tablet still offers a solid Android experience, with a smaller frame.