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Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9: sleeker & cheaper than iPad 2, but who's best?

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9: sleeker & cheaper than iPad 2, but who's best?

Samsung’s new Galaxy Tabs were revealed with much fanfare yesterday. The 10.1 model, espied first at last month’s Mobile World Congress, has been slimmed down, while the new 8.9 version measures a mere 8.6mm thin (0.2mm less than the iPad 2), weighs only 470g and costs $20 less than the entry-level iPad 2 at $469. While the 10.1 will be out in June, the 8.9 has not been slapped with a release date.

samsung galaxy tab 10.1

However, although both efforts look impressive, there are some caveats. It’s all very well beating down Apple in these key areas, especially price. But it remains hard to see how Samsung will manage to claw back at Cupertino and help itself to a healthy slice of the tablet market.

For starters, the lack of a release date for the 8.9 model is troubling. Anecdotal evidence suggests the iPad 2 is already storming ahead, and that’s before it’s even hit shelves outside of the United States. The 10.1 model may show that Samsung is alive to Apple’s threat and is capable of swiftly redesigning its devices, but the fact it’s not out until June means it’ll struggle to match up to Apple’s offering.

ipad 2 promo

Not offering the 8.9 almost immediately is also a huge missed opportunity. Samsung might not have been ready to go to market, but with the iPad 2 out and the PlayBook finally pegged for release in April, it’s going to miss out big time.

Then there’s the customised UX. Samsung has slathered Android Honeycomb with a new version of its TouchWiz UI. First impressions are good, but as any Google watcher knows, custom skins mean lengthy waits for software updates and dilute the Android experience.

Android Honeycomb Official logo

Honeycomb was touted as the perfect tablet OS by Google, and rightly so. It’s gorgeous and doesn’t need to be tinkered with. Adding layers and bloatware only serves to annoy customers and create the feeling that the OS isn’t up to snuff on its own.

There’s no denying that the low prices will provide a boon for Samsung. But on the same day as its announcement, Apple confirmed that the iPad 2 will costs £399 in the UK for the cheapest model. That’s mighty impressive and will have Samsung and others worried.

Sammy is clearly learning lessons from the release of the initial Galaxy Tab. It’s just a shame we’ll have to wait so long for the new versions to try and give the iPad 2 a bloody nose. Chances are, they’ll struggle to land a punch.

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