Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1 Announced, Priced

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Here’s a first for iPad rivals: Samsung not only announced a pair of Android tablets on Tuesday, it also revealed prices and a release date at the same time.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 will cost $499 for a 16 GB model and $599 for a 32 GB model with Wi-Fi — same as comparable iPad 2 configurations — when it launches on June 8. This is not the same Galaxy Tab 10.1 that Samsung introduced in February for the European market. At 0.34 inches thick, the U.S. version is about 0.1 inches skinnier. It’s also a tiny bit thinner than Apple’s iPad 2, and a little lighter at 1.31 pounds.

Samsung also announced the Galaxy Tab 8.9, which the company had been teasing in the run-up to Tuesday’s press event. Samsung wouldn’t give a more specific release date than early summer, but did announce pricing of $469 for 16 GB and $569 for 32 GB. In other words, we’ll finally get a device with a proper tablet operating system — in this case, Android 3.0 — that undercuts the iPad. Like the Tab 10.1, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 measures 0.34 inches thick.

For software, Samsung’s will add its own flare on top of Android 3.0 with resizeable widgets, a mini app tray and some stylization throughout the interface. Engadget’s Joanna Stern and CNet’s Bonnie Cha felt good about Samsung’s software tweaks after seeing them up close.

Samsung’s candor on Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1 pricing didn’t extend to mobile broadband models. LTE and WiMax configurations are coming later this year, but Samsung kept pricing and release dates to itself. It’s interesting that Samsung is pushing its Wi-Fi models out first, in contrast to Motorola, which launched its 3G/4G Xoom on Verizon Wireless for $799 and will circle back with a $599 Wi-Fi version on March 27.

Even though Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Tabs are few months away, I’m glad to see the company commit to some prices. The tablet market starting to look less vaporous.