Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

By Mike Wheeler

For those salivating over the release of the iPad 3 will be disappointed to learn that the 4G version of the tablet will not work in Australia. This is due to bandwidth problems – it will operate on the 2100MHz or 700MHz frequencies, but the only 4G network in Australia, which is run by Telstra, only works on 1800MHz.

However, there is a tablet available that will work on that bandwidth – Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 8.9. Out of the box you immediately note it is smaller than other tablets, and is reasonably thin, but not as svelte as the recently released Toshiba AT200.

Its start up was ok – 27 seconds from hitting the power button to being able to be used. As you would expect, I immediately go to test the 4G aspects of the device only to find that I must be in a 4G dead spot. It has download speeds of just over 15Mbps and upload speeds of about 8Mbps, well below the spruiked speeds 4G is supposed to bring to the tablet. Although this meant that it was one the 3G default network, I was still reasonably impressed. I streamed a few videos, and there was no lag.

The 8.9-inch screen is very nice thank-you, with excellent 1280×800 resolution – ie, nice bright colours, which are fantastic on the eye. I loved watching Youtube videos on it, and the overall crystal-clear colours would put it up there with the best we have seen.

On the downside, it does use the 3.2 Honeycomb operating system, which is a little disappointing as it is not the best Android OS out there at the moment.

The battery life seems pretty good, too. We played with it on and off over four days and did not have to recharge it once. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t play with it for eight hours a day, and we didn’t watch a tonne of videos, but it was long enough for us to be impressed that it still had one bar of battery on the fourth day.

Overall, this is a nice little unit that would probably find a nice niche for both students and business folk on the go. The only real problem in that regard – especially for students and smaller businesses – is price. At between $720-$840 depending on storage capacity, we think it a bit pricey. Whether that is because Samsung have a virtual monopoly on the limited 4G network at the moment, or maybe the company genuinely think it is worth the price, is unknown. That aside, it’s still a nice bit of kit.

Pros: 4G-enabled, light, good size, excellent resolution
Cons: Not enough 4G coverage yet, uses Honeycomb operating, pricey

16GB $720
32GB $840

4.1 Shacks Out Of Five

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