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Samsung's Galaxy Tab 8.9 has a lot going for it. It packs the popularinto a smaller, more portable package and it has the honour of being . This all seems to add up, and yet, we're still not sold on Samsung's latest slate.
At risk of attracting a vulgar image in the minds of our more tender readers, the phrase "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" is most apt here. The Galaxy Tab 8.9 appears exactly as you might expect, just like a slightly smaller Galaxy Tab 10.1. Its 8.9-inch LCD screen is set within an inch-thick bezel, with stainless steel trim and an attractive white plastic cover on the underside. Along the top you'll find buttons for power and volume alongside a 3.5mm headphone socket, and a proprietary charging socket on the bottom bookended by small external speakers.
You'll notice this description makes no mention of an HDMI port for TV out, a microSD card slot or a USB port of any size. If you're looking for this sort of connectivity and interested in the Tab 8.9, Samsung does sell a range of accessories that attach to the proprietary port. Each single-purpose attachment will set you back between AU$40 and AU$50 each, though.
At 455 grams, the 8.9-inch version of the Galaxy Tab is a fair bit lighter than the 10-inch model, which is always a good thing when you're speaking about portable electronics. The tablet's PLS TFT display is bright and colourful, and offers excellent off-axis viewing angles.
If you've spent any time with the Galaxy Tab 10.1, you'll know exactly what to expect here. The 8.9 shares the same Android Honeycomb base with Samsung's TouchWiz UI on top. TouchWiz for tablets isn't a particularly aggressive user interface overlay, offering only minor adjustments to the default Android experience, including a number of unique widgets and a handy quick launch taskbar, which is visible at the bottom of the home screen.
Performance-wise, the 8.9 seems to be a couple of steps behind the 10.1, and so behind much of its direct competition as a result. In BrowserMark benchmarks, the 8.9 manages a result nearly half of what the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and iPad 2 score, and on the Android-specific Vellamo benchmark, it is also a fair bit off the pace. Interestingly, the 8.9 outperforms a number of its competitors in a straight OpenGL 3D rendering benchmark, suggesting an issue relating directly with the way it browses the web, and not a slow CPU.
- 96,288Asus Transformer Prime
- 90,748Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
- 76,354Motorola Xoom 2
- 57,254Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Anecdotally, the general performance of the Tab 8.9 is only average at best. We often encountered considerable pauses between animations across the user interface, and nearly constant scrolling stutters. Launching the multitasking function usually takes a second or two, and while this isn't going to set you back in your work day, it does detract from the impression that this is a premium quality tablet worthy of the same price tag as an iPad.