FIRST REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 Brilliant As Home Tablet

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Is there a market in Australia for an 8.9″ tablet? According to Steve Jobs the entry size to the market had to be 10″ or above. I disagree, and the launch of the new Samsung 4G Galaxy 8.9″ tablet is testimony to the value of this sized device.Let’s forget about the fact that this device is 4G enabled, the real value of the new Samsung 8.9″ 4G Galaxy Tab is the quality of the display which is a sweet spot, size-wise and the fact that it is an ideal size for home tablet use. It’s also a device that can easily slip into a bag or purse and is blisteringly fast when compared to several 10″ tablets that are currently being sold in Australia.

The first thing I did with this device after attaching it to a Wi Fi network at home was to download a series of apps staring with my Kobo book reader app. I then downloaded Jeffery Archers new book The Sins Of The Father, this was followed by the Samsung app that lets me control my Samsung Smart TV, another app that proved ideal for this sized tablet was the new Telstra T Box app which allows me to control my BigPond movies service.

In the past I have used a 10″ tablet to run many of these apps at home but the 8.9″ Samsung Galaxy tablet makes a big difference; it was lighter and more manageable, especially when reading books or using it as a remote control.   

What actually makes it noticeably better is the size and the weight of the device (470 grams), coupled with the speed which is achieved because under the bonnet is a 1.5GHz dual core processor which proved more than enough power when I was multitasking.

The only let down was the lack of Android 4.0 and access to the new fast Chrome browser which will only run on Ice Cream Sandwich. I am assured by Samsung that an upgrade to 4.0 is due soon.

Another weakness is the low megapixel front facing and back facing cameras, but so what? The 2 megapixel front facing camera is ample for Skype and video chats.

The fact that the rear facing camera is only 3 megapixels with a flash is in my opinion ample as this device is more about apps, app management and access to content than using it to shoot images or video.

In fact I have not seen too many people using a tablet to shoot pictures. if you want a good portable camera buy a smartphone with an 8 megapixel+ camera built in.

A good smartphone will also allow you to use the built in tethering feature with your Galaxy 8.9″ tablet when it becomes available in Wi Fi only. This eliminates the need to own two SIM cards or carrier data plans.

What did impress me was the battery life as I was able to achieve more than 7 hours from the 6,100 mAh battery despite constant reading, playing games which the device is ideal for and accessing my emails and apps like Sales Force. With moderate use I was able to get three or four days on a charge, no problem, and standby time is even better.

Another impressive app on this tablet was the Samsung All Share. This allowed me to instantly access music content sitting on a 1 terabyte drive as well as movie content on my PC. This is achieved because the tablet is DLNA compliant.

I was able to immediately sync the device with already established content storage, eliminating the need to dump down music or videos to the device thus saving the 32 gigabytes of memory for applications and other content.

The device is available via Telstra for $720 or you can buy a data plan.

Another handy app is a full version of Polaris Office, which is excellent for creating/editing documents on the go and if you want to type quickly go and buy a $59 Bluetooth keyboard and sync it with your Galaxy tablet. It makes a big difference.

 

On the road, this device fitted into my jacket pocket easily and because it is light it was not noticeable. Where it really hit a sweet spot was when I used the device as a navigation device in the car. It was a great size without impacting my driving. What is needed is a car kit for this device complete with a charger and some form of mount that allows it to be rested between the passenger and drivers seats.

This thing is just as fast as its big brother, making it one of the fastest tablets you can get your hands on. Even with a tonne of apps running at the same time, it was nearly impossible to slow this tablet down, and when it did slow down, it wasn’t by much. The slightly reduced size makes it better for typing too. 

I am not a believer in using a tablet to play sound directly from the device as there are numerous headphone options that when plugged into this device eliminates the need to put up with the built in headphones which are more an audio guide than great speakers.

Where the 10.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab was more aluminium than plastic. This device is more high quality plastic and it feels better in the hand. 

The only in port are for a headphone jack and a proprietary connector. If you want to use the device to stream content, connect it to a DLNA TV or monitor.

This is a hot little tablet which once it has Android 4.0 and Chrome will sizzle because the 4G LTE capability is impressive if you can get access to a 4G network.

For the home this little beast is ideal due to its size and functionality.

The only downside is the price.

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