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9/27/2011
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Samsung Brings Galaxy Tab 8.9 To U.S.

Samsung's slightly smaller tablet goes on sale October 2 for $469 and $569, around $30 less than an Apple iPad.

Samsung announced pricing and availability details for its 8.9-inch Android Tablet. It is available for pre-order now, and will hit store shelves starting Sunday, October 2. Both versions for sale are Wi-Fi only, meaning there is no 3G plan to worry about. If you want the 16-GB version, it will cost $469. The 32-GB version costs $569. Both prices undercut similarly equipped iPad's by $30.

What makes the Galaxy Tab 8.9 tick? It is just 8.6mm thick and weighs a respectable 0.985 pounds. (The iPad weighs in at 1.33 pounds.) It runs Android 3.1 Honeycomb and runs Samsung's new tablet version of TouchWiz. For the enterprise user, it will come bundled with an array of enterprise-friendly features, such as software from Cisco, Sybase, SAP, and Citrix.

It is powered by a dual-core T250S processor, and boasts WXGA TFT display (1280 x 800 pixels), which is protected by Gorilla Glass. It includes a 3-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera for imaging and video chatting. It can record video in 1080p HD and playback HD content.

The new Tab 8.9 will be stuffed full of Samsung entertainment software, including its Readers Hub, Music Hub, Media Hub, and Social Hub. These tools and portals give users wide access to content, ranging from eBooks to TV shows, movies, and music.

Other features include AllShare for passing multimedia content to other devices such as HDTVs; Polaris Office for productivity needs; specialized Swype software for easier on-screen typing; and support for mobile printing. The IT department will be happy to know that it supports Exchange ActiveSync 14, full on-device encryption, and remote lock/wipe.

Samsung hasn't said if or when the 3G-equipped versions of the Galaxy Tab 8.9 will become available in the U.S. Right now, it offers an LTE version of the Tab 10.1 tablet through Verizon Wireless. Samsung has also announced an even smaller 7.7-inch Android tablet, but has yet to announce plans to sell it in the U.S.

Barring any quick legal footwork from Apple, the device will be available nationwide on Sunday. The key question: Is the device priced right and is it capable enough to convince iPad skeptics to adopt Android instead. We know that Android is clearly dominating Apple's iOS in terms of smartphone interest. Can Samsung (and other Android OEMs) pull the same feat with the tablet version?

We'll have to reserve judgment until we see what Android 3.2 Ice Cream Sandwich is capable of when it debuts later this year. It will be an interesting competition to watch.

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