Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 Preview
One of the most important things that makes the Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 competitive is the fact it runs an OS that is actually conceived as a tablet OS, instead of the phone-centric Android 2.*, found on the original Galaxy Tab. Android 3 on the Tab 8.9 is a totally different story, as it grants the user with comfortable UI and apps that just feel natural on a tablet. That said, Samsung has yet again decided to leave a mark of its own in the software department, in the form of its so-called TouchWiz UX – a tablet-optimized version of its custom interface. We've never really been such big fans of this UI, so we aren't thrilled to find it here. Thankfully, the company has kept it simple for the most part and hasn't gone too far.
TouchWiz UX comes with a Live Panel menu for customizing the home screens on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with pictures, bookmarks and social network feeds. It also includes a “Mini Apps” tray for commonly used features such as task manager, calendar and music player. Not much added value here, but as long as it doesn't bog down the interface speed, we can live with it. Of course, Samsung's Social and Music Hubs, as well as the Samsung Apps store are also here.
Apps like Contacts and Calendar have also been customized, but we can't really say it's for the better. As far as the typing experience on the Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 goes, the device is not exactly a breakthrough. It is okay to type on the landscape QWERTY, but you'll definitely need to have the tablet rested on a table, for example. On the other hand, it is almost narrow enough in portrait to allow smartphone-like typing, but we found the letters in the middle to be a bit hard to reach with our average-sized hands.
The internet browser of the Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 delivers an overall awesome web experience. Double-tap zooming is still not as useful as in iOS, but pinch-to-zoom works great, and scrolling is very smooth. The biggest treat here of course is the full Flash Player 10.3 support, which opens the door to all those sites that rely on Flash for some or most of their functionality. Thankfully, we're delighted to see that Flash elements are not hindering the smooth overall performance of the browser.
The GALAXY Tab 8.9 has the same camera interface that's also available on the Galaxy S II, with minimalistic fonts and plenty of options to play around with the 3MP camera on the back, and the front-facing one for video chat. Feel free to check out the images and 720p video we took below, but keep in mind that these are made with a prototype unit, so quality might be different with the retail one.
Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 Sample Video 2:
Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 Indoor Sample Video:
In terms of multimedia capabilities, the Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 features the above-mentioned Music Hub that allows you to make music purchases, as well as Samsung's own music player app, which is clearly worse than the stock Honeycomb one. We sincerely hope the manufacturer will reconsider these “enhancements” in the final version of the product.
With its dual-core Tegra 2 chipset though, the GALAXY Tab 8.9 is capable of flawlessly running 1080p videos, and as we mentioned, the near 9-inch screen is pretty good to watch movies on.
Judging by what we saw, we expect this tablet to be perfectly competitive against its direct opponent in the T-Mobile G-Slate (Optimus Pad), at least when it comes to everything else but 3D video capture, which the GALAXY Tab 8.9 obviously lacks. What we're a bit hesitant though is the TouchWiz UX interface that, at least in our opinion, hampers the Android 3 experience. So if Samsung thinks that it must really be there, we'd be very grateful if they at least include an option to turn it off. Nothing is certain yet, however, so the manufacturer might as well surprise us in a good way with the final unit, which is currently expected to hit U.S. shores sometime in the summer. The 16GB Wi-Fi-only model should have a price tag of $469, while a 32-gig one will set you back $569. Doesn't sound like a bad deal, but we're not all that impressed, as some 10-inch Honeycomb tablets like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and Acer Iconia Tab A500 are now coming at sub $450 price-points.
2. jthiagesan (Posts: 104; Member since: 20 Apr 2011)
Hey can we make phone calls using this tab? just curious
8. protozeloz (Posts: 5378; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)
it does not have a GSM/CDMA radio to make calls like a regular phone but you can use Skype and a network connection to make calls, I hope this helps
11. Vinicius (unregistered)
The 3G version is able to make phone calls! According to GSMArena.com
3. abit (unregistered)
Bah...so none of the new Galaxy Tabs are running the Exynos SoC. The Tegra 2 is abysmal for playback 1080p high-profile h264 videos.
13. blaze139 (unregistered)
Android 3.0 is optimized around tegra 2 chip. To my knowledge there are no tablets with any other chip but T2. Even HTC is using T2 in flyer where they usually use snapdragon processors. Its Just like how WP7 is optimizes around SD scorpion cores.
14. Enik (unregistered)
The flyer is on android 2.3.3 not 3.x and its powered by a 1.5 gHz snapdragon!
4. Thump3rDX17 (Posts: 2160; Member since: 10 May 2010)
i like it, i like the Tablet, i even like TouchWiz UX. the only thing i don't like is the overhaul of that delicious stock Honeycomb Music Player, i was quite fond of that.
5. cheetah2k (Posts: 837; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)
I like the size, I just wish they had a colour scheme that matched in with my Galaxy S II phone..
6. mavricxx (Posts: 11; Member since: 26 Apr 2011)
I like the size but No HDMI, No USB, and I'm not sure if it has SD card but no thank you...Transformer, Acer or Toshiba it is.
9. valynor (unregistered)
How about the amount of mechanical flex in the Samsung 8.9 and 10.1?
At the beginning of this video you can see that the 8.9 seems to have a LOT of flex:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
Could you comment on that, please?
10. Jc (unregistered)
Loving it!!! This is the tab to get for sure.
12. ultraman (unregistered)
I will wait for AMOLED tablets, with hopefully more mature OS and usb ports. I have Galaxy S2 and once you see its screen in action LCD seems like a bad dream.
15. Eric (unregistered)
What? No SD/MicroSD, HDMI and no USB. Man - Another stupid iPad. I'll stick to my G-Tablet for now.
16. Kiwiboy (unregistered)
Can someone who KNOWS please answer the following:
1. will this tab read data directly from an external HDD (self powered via USB)?
2. Can I connect a wireless mouse and keyboard.
3. Can I open MS Word docs and edit and save them?
4. Can I connect this to a TV and play whatever is on the tab screen on the TV?
If this tab will not do this, can you suggest something that does - but non the Asus with detachable keyboard as it will not display in portrait. Cheers