Samsung Galaxy 8.9 Hands On: Is 8.9 Inches of Tablet the Sweet Spot?

Remember the Galaxy Tab 10.1? We called it the best Android Tablet yet, and it still is. This is basically that, but 1.2 inches smaller.

On the software side, the 10.1 and the 8.9 are indistinguishable. They're both running Android Honeycomb 3.1 with Samsung's super-special tablet-version of their TouchWiz UI. Handling this puppy, it is light. It's just 447 grams to the Galaxy 10.1's 595 (which was already lighter than the iPad 2). It's more metal and Gorilla Glass (though the back is still plastic), so it feels quite sturdy—which is like, impressive for a Samsung device. Feels like it could take a tumble and keep on going. Maybe.

Samsung Galaxy 8.9 Hands On: Is 8.9 Inches of Tablet the Sweet Spot?

Using it, well, it's the same as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which is good and bad. It's good in that when you fire it up it's very fast and responsive, but it's bad in that it shares all of Honeycomb's faults, like when you've opened a bunch of apps, it starts dragging, even though Android should be taking care of that automatically. Not painfully slow, but it's noticeable.

It's a little hard to see what Samsung's angle is here. It's so similar to the Galaxy 10.1 that it begs the question: why do this at all? Were there a ton of people that thought the 10.1 was like an inch and a quarter too big and that's all that kept them from buying it? It's hard to imagine that the 10.1's 595 grams was too heavy for anyone, but maaaaybe somewhere out there needed to shave about a quarter off that weight? Oh, and it's crazy thin. 8.6mm (roughly a third of an inch). Definitely the thinnest tablet we've seen yet.

Samsung Galaxy 8.9 Hands On: Is 8.9 Inches of Tablet the Sweet Spot?

If I were a betting man, I'd say you can probably just read our Galaxy Tablet 10.1 review and save yourself some time, but we'll definitely have a review in the coming weeks. There are two versions, both of which are Wi-Fi only. They will be available nation-wide on October 2nd at $469 for the 16GB version and $569 for the 32GB version, which is, you know, way too expensive.

Update: Here's some video:


You can keep up with Brent Rose, the author of this post, on Google+ or Twitter.