Samsung reveals new Galaxy Tab models: thinner and lighter than the iPad 2 [video]

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Earlier in the month when Apple had just launched the iPad 2, a lot of attention was given to some comments made by Samsung's Lee Don-joo, who said (of their upcoming 10" tablet) "we will have to improve the parts that are inadequate." At that point (according to Ars Technica), the iPad 2 was 3mm thinner than the 10.1" Galaxy Tab that Samsung had announced.

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Yesterday at CTIA, Samsung was once again showing off the 10.1" Galaxy Tab, but the tablet has been put on a diet. The new Galaxy Tab 10.1 is 8.6mm thick, or 2mm thinner than the iPad 2. The Tab weighs 595 grams while the iPad 2 is 603 grams. Needless to say Samsung is happy to tell anyone who'll listen that they've got the thinnest 10" tablet on the market. [Figures courtesy of Electronista.]

Samsung also introduced an 8.9" tablet, the Galaxy Tab 8.9. Aside from size, the two tablets are identical. Both feature Tegra 2 chips, 1280×800 resolution screens, 2 megapixel front facing (video chat) cameras and 5 megapixel outward facing cameras. The 8.9 weighs 470 grams and shares its big brother's 8.6mm thickness.

A WiFi version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will hit stores on June 8th. $499 will get you a 16GB model, and $599 will get you 32GB. The 8.9 will follow later in the summer and you save only a few dollars: $469 for 16GB and $569 for 32GB.

One potentially thorny issue: rather than stock Honeycomb, Samsung is layering on a custom interface called TouchWiz. We'll see how that turns out but folks on the show floor don't seem to be hating it. Engadget's Johanna Stern got a look at TouchWiz running on the old (fat) Samsung 10.1" tablet and you can see that demonstrated in the second half of this video:

So that's what we know so far. The 8.9" form factor is an interesting choice, particularly since you're not saving significant amounts of cash by choosing it. Presumably Samsung sees a market for a slightly more portable tablet. I'm looking forward to hearing more hands-on reports as launch date nears. After all, thin and light is great, but what about performance?

And Samsung isn't the only company showing off tablets at CTIA. Of course we've seen oodles of tablets shown off at shows as far back as CES 2010, but this is the first time we've been getting dates and prices along with the announcements. Perhaps that tablet deluge will really happen this time.

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith.

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