There has been a lot of talk lately of what is the perfect screen size for a tablet. Companies have released 5 inch tablets (Galaxy Note), 10 inch tablets (iPad), and almost every size in between. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 is yet another screen size to add to the pile. Samsung’s new 8.9 inch tablet sells for $449 and packs all the tablet features we have come to know and love. Is it the perfect size tablet? Read on to find out.
If you are familiar with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 then you will notice that the 8.9 uses the same design language. Apart from a few small tweaks the 8.9 is essentially its larger brother shrunk down. The 8.9 has a smooth plastic backing with a faux brushed metal texture. It feels very sturdy and pleasing in the hand. Despite the plastic construction this tablet is anything but flimsy. Storage capacity is either 16 or 32GB depending on the model and is not expandable due to the lack of a microSD slot. The tablet also sports a front facing 2 megapixel camera with a rear facing 3 megapixel camera complete with LED flash. For your audio enjoyment that tablet features two stereo speakers on either side of Samsung’s proprietary dock connector.
The 8.9 weighs in at a light 0.99 pounds and is only 0.34 inches thick. The hardware feels a lot more balanced than a larger 10 inch tablet and thus sits in the hand very comfortably. The display is a 16:9 PLS TFT LCD screen and has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. The screen may be smaller than the Galaxy Tab 10.1′s but the pixel density is slightly greater. Overall the screen does not disappoint. The panel is bright and reproduces colors spectacularly. Viewing angles are very impressive also. So to sum things up Samsung has not skimped on the display.
For internals the 8.9 has a Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. Quadrant benchmark software gave it a score of 2,289 (see graphic below for comparison of score to other devices). In my real world use the 8.9 has proven its self to be zippy and responsive. Apps open quickly and screen transitions never lag or slow down.
This smaller tablet does pretty well when it comes to battery life. Its 6,100mAh battery, managed a 9 hours and 15 minutes in the Technolon battery test (which consists of playing a video on loop at medium screen brightness). This may be less than a larger 10 inch tablet, but also only so much battery can fit into a smaller form factor.
The cameras are not fantastic, but they get the job done. The front facing camera is very useful for video chatting in the gTalk app. As for the rear facing camera. Look at the photos below to see the quality for yourself.
The software on this device splits into two different categories. The first is Honeycomb 3.1, which is Google’s tablet OS. The seconds is Samsung’s added enhancements called Touchwiz. Read below as both are detailed.
Android Honeycomb was Google’s first try at making a tablet OS. It is not the most recent edition as Google has since released Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Ice Cream Sandwich fixes many of the issues that exist in Honeycomb and should greatly improve the software experience. Samsung has released statements saying that its whole Galaxy Tab line will be receiving updates to the newer version. But for now we can only review what is on the device, Honeycomb.
Overall Honeycomb can have a bit of a learning curve. Those unfamiliar with Android can often have trouble learning how to use it. Its hard edges and neon light makes it feel very different from competing tablet operating systems like Apple’s iOS.
But there are some positives to Honeycomb. Multitasking in Honeycomb is very easy with the slide out app list that can be accessed anywhere in the OS. Honeycomb also makes it easy to add and re-size widgets on the home screen. Compared with cheaper tablets running Android Gingerbread, Honeycomb is much more powerful. Also the new additions that will be coming when the tablet is updated to Ice Cream Sandwich will only help to further improve the software.
Samsung has added a few enhancements in their Touchwiz layer that bring features that Google did not include in Honeycomb. All of these features can be assessed by swiping up from the bottom. This reveals a small app panel with a task killer, calendar, world clock, pen memo sheet, and calculator. The most useful of all of these is the task killer. Honeycomb makes stopping running tasks difficult. So Samsung was right in adding a simpler way to accomplish this. Google has acknowledged this problem and made it easier to kill running tasks in Ice Cream Sandwich. Overall Touchwiz in no way detracts from the tablet experience and even adds to it.
In conclusion the 8.9 is a very good Android tablet. It has great build quality, is very thin, and has a beautiful display. If you are looking for something a little more portable than a 10 inch tablet, this tablet will fit your needs. I personally enjoyed this smaller form factor, due to its increased portability. I feel that 8.9 could be the perfect size for a tablet. But if you do prefer a 10 inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is only $50 more. So thus the decision lies with you.