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By Dan Rowinski

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Galaxy Tabs introduce device-level encryption to Android devices

Tuesday was the official beginning of the CTIA Wireless 2011 conference in Orlando. There was an exciting keynote Tuesday morning morning where the CEOs of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint sniped at each other on stage (T-Mobile bowed out after the announcement that the company was being acquired by AT&T for $39 billion on Sunday). That was amusing and, for a lot of people in the audience, will probably be the highlight of CTIA.

But that is not what the geeks were waiting for.

Immediately after the keynote, Samsung held a press event titled “What’s Your Tab Life?”. It was about, of course, tablets.

So, the geeks and fan boys who had an invitation to the event (myself included) wandered over and got a half-hour show on not one but two of the tablets that Samsung is releasing in its Galaxy S portfolio of products.

What is it?

Tablets in all shapes and sizes.

Samsung had already announced its 10.1-inch tablet at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February and on Tuesday announced its refinement. Thinner, lighter, sleeker. Dual-core Hummingbird processor. Android 3.0 Honeycomb front and back cameras. The specifications are impressive, just as you would expect from Samsung (software updates are another issue entirely).

The new product was the third entry in Samsung’s tablet line: an 8.9 inch dual-core tweener. Samsung now has three tablets of various sizes with the original 7-inch, the 8.9-inch and the 10.1-inch, the latter two to be released in June and “early summer.” With the variety comes the “What Is Your Tab Life?” marketing campaign focusing on what each tablet can do for you.

The first edition of the 10.1-inch will be HSPA+ (which is what AT&T-Mobile uses) with other “4G” iterations coming later. The biggest news with the 8.9-inch is that the 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi version will be priced at $469, or $30 less than an equivalent iPad. It is the first true iPad competitor to be priced below what Apple charges for its market-changing slate.

What is the buzz?

As often happens in the tech-reporting industry, this was news that was not really news. Since Samsung sent out the invites for the event, the speculation was that it would be for an 8.9-inch tablet. Samsung threw some surprises in by showing off the sleeker 10.1-inch and introducing some new applications and features (see below) and the pricing of the 8.9-inch (which was a surprise) but overall the event went as expected.

The 8.9-inch and the 10.1-inch will be some of the first non-Motorola Honeycomb tablets to come to the market and will be a barometer of what the demand for slate computing actually is.

Also, Samsung created a “skin” for its Honeycomb tablets, a user interface that lays on top of Android called LivePanel. Some people like manufacturer skins (such as the HTC Sense for smart phones), but others hate them and prefer their Android vanilla. It is a matter of preference and not an unexpected move by Samsung.

Why does government care?

Well, there is one big reason: It will be the first Android tablet to the market with device-level encryption. That is right, it goes straight to the bone, something that no other Android device has done as of yet. The kernel code was created by Samsung in partnership with Sybase Afaria for mobile management and Cisco for networking and VPN solutions.

Remember how the iPad is supposed to be a cross between “technology and liberal arts,” as per Apple CEO Steve Jobs' announcement of the iPad 2? Well, Samsung is going the opposite route and has designed enterprise functionality for the tabs from the get-go.

Galaxy S Tabs can come with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync capabilities, Cisco VPN solutions (AnyConnect), Sybase Afaria mobile management, the aforementioned on-device encryption and SAP mobile electronic medical record for the increasingly popular tablet use in health care.

SAP also is offering a solution through Galaxy Tabs for data discovery and data silos making it efficient for enterprise and government use.

Why do I like it?

Unlike the Motorola Xoom, it looks like Samsung actually put some thought into enterprise functionality and creating an application ecosystem (Samsung Enterprise Alliance helps developers make software for the tablets).

Instead of rushing straight to the market, Samsung pulled back a little after its CEO called the company's tablets “weak” in comparison to the iPad 2. That is not to say that the Galaxy Tab series is fully baked. Android Honeycomb will still be a work in progress for the foreseeable future but Samsung took some steps in the right direction with this release.

Posted by Dan Rowinski on Mar 23, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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