We met up with Samsung during the CTIA Wireless trade show in Orlando to get up close and personal with the Galaxy Tab 8.9, Samsung’s new Android tablet that fills the space between its current 10-inch and 7-inch models. We certainly think Samsung hit the sweet spot with this one. The Galaxy Tab 8.9 is just 8.6mm thick, and it felt amazing — it’s much more sleek in the hand than the original chunkier 7-inch Galaxy Tab. Under its hood, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 has a 1GHz dual-core processor just like the 10-inch model. Demo devices weren’t powering up when we played with them, though, so we tested the Galaxy Tab 8.9’s fresh new user interface on a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and we definitely have some thoughts on the new UI to share. Hit the jump for more hands-on thoughts and don’t forget to check out our photo gallery.
In some ways, we see the Galaxy Tab 8.9 as the MacBook Air of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab portfolio. It’s just as thin as the newly designed 10-inch model, but obviously smaller, and not nearly as thick as the original Galaxy Tab. It also lacks some of the trimmings of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 model (which is available in a 32GB version also). Samsung says it will launch running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and that, in a future update, it will add its own TouchWiz UX user interface — the first ever custom user interface to run on top of Honeycomb. Unfortunately details are slim on when that update will be pushed out, but we have confirmed that the TouchWiz version is officially titled “TouchWiz UX” and not “TouchWiz 3″ or the yet unannounced “TouchWiz 4.”
That said, we loved what we saw of TouchWiz UX so far. The current build was just a tad sluggish at times, but it’s not final and overall it was snappy. You can customize your homescreens with various widgets, and even resize some of them. Samsung has said that the U.S. version of the Galaxy Tab 8.9 will launch with a refreshed Social Hub service, however the company has not said when it will launch, on which carriers, or at what price point. If the original Galaxy Tab is any hint, though, we could certainly see it land on the major four. It’s also worth noting that Samsung confirmed it will launch new members of the Galaxy Tab family with 4G WiMAX or LTE support, but it did not confirm which models will offer that support.