Samsung unveils Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1, 'world's thinnest' tablets

At its Unpacked event at CTIA 2011, Samsung introduces two new svelte additions to its tablet family, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy 10.1.

Bonnie Cha Former Editor
Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.
Bonnie Cha
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Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 both measure just 0.34 inch thick. Bonnie Cha/CNET

ORLANDO, Fla.--As expected, Samsung took the wraps off of a new tablet today at CTIA 2011, and there's not just one brand-spanking new device but actually two: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Not to be confused with the other Galaxy Tab 10.1, which was introduced at Mobile World Congress, this version, along with the Tab 8.9, claim to be the "world's thinnest tablets" at just 8.6 millimeters thin. By comparison, the iPad 2 is just a hair thicker at 8.8 millimeters.

Samsung has a tendency to make a lot of these claims, but we had the opportunity to check out the tablets last night (though they wouldn't turn on) and they really are quite slender. In addition, the rounded edges make it comfortable to hold and grip, and unlike the company's 7-inch Galaxy Tab series, these tablets have a solid, premium feel to them. The Galaxy Tab 8.9 weighs 16.6 ounces and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 weighs 20.9 ounces.

Both run on Android 3.0 Honeycomb, but they will also be the first tablets to support Samsung's new TouchWiz UX for tablets. This includes a live panel that you can customize with different content, such as your pictures, bookmarks, and social feeds. There's also an application tray that gives you access to more commonly used apps to help ease multitasking. Other highlights include resizable widgets and a nifty wireless manager.

We got a live demo of TouchWiz UX on the first Galaxy Tab 10.1 and was quite drawn to it. Though customized user interfaces are always a polarizing topic, we thought TouchWiz provided a more user-friendly experience to Honeycomb. You can check out more shots of the UI in our photo gallery below. We should also note that the TouchWiz UX won't come on the tablets out of the box. Instead, it will come via a software update some time after the tablets are launched, but Samsung couldn't provide a more specific time frame.

Samsung TouchWiz UX for tablets (photos)

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The rest of the tablets' features are similar to the already announced Galaxy Tab 10.1. This includes a rear-facing 3-megapixel camera and a front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video calls, a dual-core processor, 1080p HD video playback, and both sport WXGA (1,280x800) touch screens, but obviously one measures 10.1 inches and the other 8.9 inches.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 are expected to ship globally this summer with Wi-Fi and HSPA+ (21Mbps) models. In the U.S., the Wi-Fi version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will cost $499 for the 16GB model and $599 for the 32GB model. Both will be available on June 8. The Wi-Fi-only Galaxy Tab 8.9 is expected to ship this summer, with the 16GB model going for $469 and the 32GB model going for $569. The company added that LTE and WiMax versions will come out later this year, but pricing and carrier support were not announced at this time.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, 10.1 hands-on (photos)

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