Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 fills your pocket with Honeycomb

The smaller of Samsung's new tablets hopes to find the sweet spot between too wee and too huge, but packs plenty of power into it's A5-sized frame.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 is just under 9 inches of Honeycomb sweetness packed into a surprisingly light case. Samsung has slightly inflated the specs of the original 7-inch Galaxy Tab, which makes it less pocket-friendly, but does give us more space to spread out and enjoy the fun.

Among Android tablets , the Tab 8.9 sits somewhere around the middle in terms of screen size. The Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 are both up with the iPad 2 in 10-inch territory, while the Dell Streak is a dinky 5-incher.

We find the smaller sizes best for catching up on a little telly on the bus, where the bigger tablets can feel embarrassingly big. But the larger displays are much more fun when surfing the Web or sharing content with someone else's eyeballs. In person, we really liked the Tab 8.9's size, which is just the same as an A5 notepad.

The Tab 8.9's screen also has 1,280x800-pixel resolution, which makes it as sharp as a mother's rebuke. Compare that to the 1,024x768-pixel resolution of the iPad 2, for example.

The Tab 8.9 sports the latest version of Google's Android software, and the first to be built with tablets in mind -- version 3.0 Honeycomb . It's a big step forward for the little green robot, and it includes some jazzy 3D effects and loads more room for cooler widgets on the home screen. The physical back, home and search buttons from Android phones have also been moved on to the screen as virtual buttons, which move with you when you rotate the tablet.

Unfortunately Samsung has seen fit to add its own TouchWiz interface on top of Honeycomb -- we'd rather it was the pure version, but we're yet to try Samsung's latest software effort so we can't judge it yet.

Android should have no trouble running swiftly on the Tab 8.9's 1GHz dual-core processor, however. It's also better connected than a Kennedy niece, with 802.11n Wi-Fi and HSPA+ on board for fast downloads whether at home or away. 

The Tab 8.9 should be gracing shop shelves in May, and we'll let you know as soon as we know how much it will dent our wallets. For more, read our full preview.

What do you think of the Tab 8.9 -- is it small but perfectly formed, or nothing but a shrunken Tab 10.1? Let us know in the comments. 

 

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