The new Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablets announced last night are a lot like the old Galaxy Tabs, with essentially the same hardware specs for processor speed, screen resolution, battery life, and wireless connectivity options. The 7-inch model to be released on April 22 and the 10.1-inch model to be released on May 13 sport two hardware enhancements meant to appeal to home entertainment and digital camera users: a MicroSD slot for easier photo sharing (although it can be used for files of any type) and an infrared port to be able to act as a remote control for home theater equipment such as TVs and stereos. An interim version of the Galaxy Tab 7 gained the IR capability in October 2011, but very few other tablets offer this capability.
Both devices will ship with Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," which has yet to be made available for the previous models. A Samsung spokesman said that Samsung continues to work with Google to get Android 4 released on its existing hardware; the Android industry's migration to the unified smartphone/tablet OS has proceeded very slowly, with no explanation from Google and the Android vendors. Among Android 4's capabilities are improved support for enterprise-class mobile management and security, similar to what an iPad offers.
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The two Galaxy Tab 2 models will cost less than the original Galaxy Tab versions. The 7-inch model will cost $250 and come with Wi-Fi and 8GB of storage; the 10.1-inch model will cost $350 for the same specifications. By contrast, the original 7-inch model cost $400 but came with 16GB of storage, and the original 10.1-inch model cost $500 but also came with 16GB of storage. The Galaxy Tab 2 models also have dropped the LED flash on their 3-megapixel rear cameras, and have downgraded the resolution of the front cameras as well. Apple sells the iPad 2 with Wi-Fi and 16GB of storage for $400, but with a substandard 0.9-megapixel rear camera, and it sells the higher-resolution third-gen iPad with LED-equipped 5-megapixel rear camera for $500; cellular versions cost $130 more.
Samsung does not plan to ship an 8.9-inch version of the Galaxy Tab 2, as it had for the previous lineup. A spokesman said the company had not abandoned that screen size, but simply chose not to release a new Galaxy Tab using it at the moment. Also gone from the Galaxy Tab 2 lineup is the option of cellular-equipped models, at least initially.