Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 Review: Is the Screen Size Just Right?

by Todd Luoto Reads (45,423)
Editor's Rating
9.00

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Software & Support
    • 9
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 9
    • Usability
    • 9
    • Design
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Features
    • 9
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 9.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • 'Just right' screen size, very light weight
    • Best tablet display to date
    • Quick, stable peformance
  • Cons

    • Subpar speakers
    • No useful inputs/ports
    • Less expensive than an iPad, but still too pricey

Quick Take

Boasting smaller and lighter dimensions as well as a rich display, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 gets high marks in both aesthetic and performance categories.


There’s nothing quite like finding the perfect fit. And I dare say that in the tablet market – where I find myself a little bit like a consumer Goldilocks where things are just a bit too big, or disappointingly too small ? Samsung has gotten pretty close to nailing that ?just right? fit with their newest Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 (a smaller, slightly less expensive version of their Galaxy Tab 10.1). It?s fast, it?s light, and after a few days of trying this sucker out, I must declare that it comes pretty close to being a wonder of compact, computerized beauty.

BUILD & DESIGN

Carrying an 8.9-inch screen (hence the name), and standing some 6.2 inches high, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 is the perfect compromise between the 9.7-inch iPad and something like the HTC EVO View 4G, which feels a bit too tiny at 7 inches. While Samsung’s competition may boast words like ‘bigger,’ ‘smaller,’ ‘lighter,’ and ‘more durable,’ this tablet really is the ultimate happy medium for consumers. Fans of all things light and compact will be thrilled by its dimensions (less than a pound, 0.3 inches thick), while those afraid of losing valuable screen space won’t be at all bothered by limitations that really don’t exist here. When looking at all the ways I typically interact with such a device — watching movies, typing emails, playing games, and reading books (the latter of which generally happens while on my back) — I really loved how this tablet felt while in all modes of play. 

On the top long side (which is a darker gray) lies the power key/volume rocker alongside a headset jack and microphone pinhole. On the bottom long side (gray as well) is a proprietary pin port (also known as a missed opportunity for a mini USB input) that symmetrically sits between two speakers. Overall, it’s a tremendously simple design, as the entire body is relatively sleek, clean, and without a doubt, minimal. 

There are no ports and inputs on the top and bottom.

 

The display screen in front takes up the majority of the space, with a front-facing 2 megapixel camera peeking out from the top-center of the tablet while in landscape position.

The backside (all of which is in black) reveals a 3 megapizel camera with autofocus and flash. Both cameras do the trick, the back one obviously taking the higher quality photos, though neither lens is really meant to replace something more professional and high end. 

As for its sturdiness, the Samsung Tab 8.9 is made of plastic and not aluminum; this may scare away some, but it feels pretty strong and not flimsy in the least. Also missing is a proper place to connect an HDMI cable (though Sammy may be counting on its All Share for streaming), any type of card slot for extra memory, and the limitation of having just a single proprietary port that doesn’t easily play well with others. 

Our Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 review unit had the following specs:

  • Android Honeycomb (3.1)
  • 8.9-inch diagonal widescreen WXGA (1280 x 800) TFT (PLS) capactive touchscreen
  • NVIDIA Dual Core Tegra 2 
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB or 32GB internal memory
  • Front-facing 2-megapixel, rear-facing 3-megapixel webcams
  • 802.11 Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0
  • 3.5mm audio jack, proprietary pin connector
  • 6,100mAh battery
  • 9.1 x 6.2 x .34 inches
  • .98 lbs
  • Ships with pin connector to USB adapter, charge adapter, headphones 
  • Price at Launch: $469.99 (16GB)

Screen and Speakers
The 8.9-inch screen supports a 1280 x 800 pixel display, making it one of the finer displays on the market. Due to its size, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 boasts more ideal visual real estate than even the iPad. Indoors, with moderate lighting, the image is exceptionally clean and colorful. The tablet is best viewed directly head-on with a slight tilt, and the size of the display is still large enough as to not require squinting or strain. Touch capability seems very responsive and up to task (I prefer the pinch method to Samsung’s gimmicky ‘shake’ motion control for resizing), especially in the browser – it’s easy to navigate and not too sensitive nor finicky. 

As a nice bonus, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 also works pretty well in the outdoors, which yet again bests its rival from Apple in terms of its display. Glare will always slightly stifle the experience, though the images here aren’t really washed out as they are on the iPad, perhaps because the Tab 8.9 is slightly brighter than Apple’s tablet. Feel free to send an email or finish that game under the sun, your work and high score shouldn’t be affected. 

Of all the tablets the TabletPCReview team has tested, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has the best overall display. The Tab 8.9 is right alongside it at the top of the chart.

As has unfortunately become common in tablets, the speakers on the bottom fulfill a need, but lack any flying colors. What is most likely a result of working around a 8.9 screen size, or perhaps due to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any real initiative in the entire tablet market to create anything better, the sound quality is mediocre and limited at best. While watching video, listening to music or Skype-ing, headphones are strongly suggested. 


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