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Samsung launches Galaxy Tab successors

Samsung has today officially taken the cover off its second-generation tablets, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 8.9, and it's bringing some interesting innovations to the table.

Announced today, the two tablets feature Google's tablet-oriented Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' mobile platform - but Samsung has customised things, adding its own proprietary TouchWiz interface to the mix. Whether this truly offers the 'superior multi-tasking and enhanced user interaction and navigation' that the company claims, however, remains to be seen.

Both tablets are pretty similar in specification, with buyers offered the option of a 10.1-inch or 8.9-inch display as the names suggest, with both offering a impressive 1280x800 resolution. Behind the displays, both feature an unnamed 1GHz dual-core processor - likely to be either Samsung's own Exynos or Nvidia's Tegra 2 - and between 16GB and 64GB of solid-state storage.

The Samsung-specific apps launched with the Galaxy Tab - Readers' Hub, Social Hub, Music Hub and the rest - will be included with the customised OS, along with Google's own apps like Maps, Talk, and the new Books e-book store.

Both models include Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, USB 2.0 connectivity, and Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n along with 3G HSPA+ support for up to 21Mb/s speeds while on the go - although this will require a SIM card and data plan if you're hoping to make use of it.

The 10.1-inch model tips the scales at 595g and measures 256.6mm x 172.9mm and is just 8.6mm thick, while the smaller 8.9-inch model weighs 470g and measures 230.9mm x 157.8mm and shares the same thickness. By contrast, Apple's latest 'ultra-thin' iPad 2 tablet is slightly heavier at 600g and matches the thickness of Samsung's latest devices.

As with Apple's latest creation, Samsung has packed a bunch of sensors for developers to play with into both tablets: dual-axis accelerometer, magnetometer, ambient light sensor, and gyroscope are all present and correct, along with integrated GPS.

Sadly, the cameras on both models are a bit of a let-down. The rear is a three megapixel autofocus unit with flash which is beaten by most Android smartphones, while the front is a fixed-focus two megapixel model for video chat. Rather better is the ability to record video in HD, albeit just 720p rather than the full 1080p.

There's a key piece of information that Samsung isn't sharing yet, however: the price. With the original Galaxy Tab having suffered for launching at an extremely premium price, hopefully Samsung will be launching these latest models at a more sensible level in order to better compete with Apple's devices.