ORLANDO, Fla.—Big blue numbers stand on the front lawn outside the Orange County Convention Center: 7, 8, 9 and 10. Until yesterday, CTIA Wireless 2011 show attendees had to wonder what Samsung Mobile was up to.
On Tuesday, JK Shin, president of Samsung Mobile Communications, and company pulled the silk on the Tab 8.9 and Tab 10.1, which refer to the respective screen sizes of the new tablets in inches. Shin told the audience that Samsung was focusing on giving consumers a variety of choices.
“Today it is harder than ever for consumers to choose the device that fits their needs best,” Shin said at Tuesday’s unveiling.
The new tablets, which run on Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) are squarely aimed at Apple’s iPad, which currently controls over 80 percent of the tablet market in the United States. The Tab 10.1 is now the thinnest (0.33 inches) and lightest (595 grams) tablet of its size on the market. But maybe not the thinnest by much. The iPad 2 measures just 0.34 inches thick.
It was widely reported that Samsung was impressed with the design of the iPad 2. Lee Don-Joo, the company’s executive vice president, told the Korean press that the iPad 2 was “a new challenge,” saying that Samsung needed to “improve the parts that are inadequate.”
Samsung went so far as to actually release pricing for the new Tabs, something it rarely does at unveilings. The Tab 10.1 starts exactly where the iPad 2 starts, at $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi-only model. The 32GB Wi-Fi only version will run $599. The 8.9-inch Tab will run $469 for the 16GB model and $569 for the 32GB model.
Both new Tabs will feature some pretty hefty internal specs. Both devices boast dual-core 1GHz processors, front and rear-facing cameras and impressive batteries. The larger Tab includes a 6860mAh battery while the smaller device delivers a 6000mAh battery.
Samsung has increased its pressure on Apple’s media integration with its own Music Hub, Media Hub, Social Hub and Readers Hub (an eReader very much like Apple’s iBooks), which will come pre-installed on the Tab 8.9 and 10.1.
The new Galaxy Tabs also will be two of the first, if not the first, tablets to run a UI enhancement over the top of Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), which was designed for tablets. TouchWiz 4.0, which will come standard on the new Tab devices, is a tablet-based extension of Samsung’s smartphone UI.
The Tab 10.1 will be released on June 8 and the 8.9-inch model will be released “early this summer.” The company says it will eventually offer 4G versions of both devices but didn’t specify when or for what network technologies.
Samsung now has a 7-inch tablet, an 8.9-inch tablet and a 10.1-inch tablet, as well as its 4G Tab.