Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 – Is this the best size for tablets?
The Good: Excellant thin and light design, very good battery life, TouchWiz UX adds many welcome features, and the display is great.
The Bad: Lacking an SD card slot, HDMI output, and a USB port, uses a proprietary charger, runs Honeycomb, and lags at some tasks.
Overall: Samsung packs a lot into this device, including a Nvidia Tegra 2 chip, 1GB of RAM, and much more. They also neglected to include a lot of ports, such as an SD card slot and USB ports
We’ve seen a plethora of Android tablets in the last month. Every manufacturer is trying to catch up to the iPad 2, and so far nobody has been able to do so. Samsung’s Tab 10.1 was very close, but not close enough. Some people think no Android tablet will catch up until the apps arrive. Is that true? Read on to find out!
The front of the device features an 8.9 inch WXGA (1280×800) TFT displat and an .8 inch bezel. Though the Tab has a plastic back, it feels solid in the hands and is easy to hold for extended amounts of time. The dimenions of the device are 9.1 x 6.2 x.34 inches.
The Tab feels great in the hand. The 8.9″ form factor has quickly become my favorite of the various sizes available, though the iPad’s 9.7″ display is a very close second.
The Galaxy Tab 8.9 ships with Android 3.1 with Samsung’s new TouchWiz UX interface, which adds a lot of useful features such as:
- Live Panel: Magazine-like widget view for immediate access to weather, social updates, email,news, photo gallery, all on the home screen. The visual layout of Live Panel is completely customizable for one-touch entry into each user’s most important information.
- Mini Mode Tray: One-touch access to commonly used applications–Task Manager, Calendar, World Clock, Pen Memo, Calculator, Music–which overlay in a pop-up window on display screen for powerful multi-tasking.
- Clipboard: Advanced copy & paste functionality allows Galaxy Tab users to store photos, Web pages, YouTube links, etc., on the clipboard for easy sharing via email and social network sites.
- Indicator Quick Panel: Quickly toggle on/off Wi-Fi, notifications, sound, brightness and settings in lower right hand corner of the Galaxy Tab display.
- Photo Editor: Rotate, crop and adjust colors on high quality digital images
Hardware wise, the device features a dual-core, Nvidia Tegra 2 processor clocked at 1GHz with 1GB of RAM.
Overall, the 8.9″ tablet performed very well. Most notably, in gaming. I played almost all the games in Nvidia’s TegraZone app and they performed flawlessly. In the browser, the device performed just as well. However, I did notice some lag in navigation throughout the tablet. Most of the lag occurred in simple tasks such as flicking through homescreens and navigating through menus.
Buttons and Ports
As with all Honeycomb tablets the Tab’s home and back button are software buttons. There are only two physical buttons on the device. A power button and a volume rocker on the top of the device. It feels rather odd having the volume rocker on the top, instead of on the sides like normal. Instead of the volume rocker being along the sides, the speakers are. Even though they are small, the speakers sound as good, if not better, than competing Honeycomb tablets
Ports is where the Tab really lacks. Unlike the Iconia A500 and others, the Tab doesn’t have a USB port, HDMI output, nor an SD card slot. Also, instead of a standard micro-USB port, Samsung decided to use a PROPRIETARY USB port. Why Samsung? WHY?
The Tab 8.9 features a 3MP rear facing shooter and a 2MP front-facer. The rear camera took crisp pictures and performed very well in low light situations. The camera is decent, but the 8MP cameras found on other devices. Without a doubt, the Tab’s 3MP camera out-performs the iPad 2′s .7MP camera.
The Tab comes in two varieties, a 16GB version and a 32GB version. I was very disappointed that Samsung neglected to include an SD card slot in the device. Samsung did the same thing on the Nexus S, and we hope this is the last time Samsung pulls a move like this.
Battery life is where Samsung’s 8.9″ tablet really shined. I was easily able make it through a day.
In this review, I performed a continuos video battery life test. In this test, I loaded up an MP4 of an episode of ‘The Office’ and let it repeat until the tablet died. In this test, the Tab lasted for 9 hours and 11 minutes with display brightness at 75%. When I performed the same test on the iPad 2, it lasted for 10 hours and 45 minutes.
Without a doubt, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 8.9 is the best Honeycomb tablet to buy. Samsung is producing the only tablets that come close to Apple’s iPad. We are annoyed that Samsung did not include an SD card slot, and used a proprietary charger.
If you are looking for an Android tablet the Galaxy Tab 8.9 is defiantly one to consider. The design and battery life are excellant, but we really wish the tablet had Ice Cream Sandwich.