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Samsung to ship Galaxy Tab 2 tablets in US starting April 22

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 model will ship first, followed by 10.1 model on May 13

Samsung will ship its next-generation Galaxy Tab 2 tablets in the U.S. starting on April 22, with 7-inch model coming first, and the 10.1-inch model with a larger screen shipping on May 13.

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 will be available starting at US$399.99, which is a considerable price drop from the ongoing $450 price for its predecessor on Amazon.com. The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 will start at $249.99.

A key enhancement in the new tablets is Google's Android 4.0 OS, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, which provides usability, graphics and multitasking improvements. The current Galaxy Tabs have Android 3.x, and Samsung officials did not provide a specific date on when it would push out an upgrade to Android 4.0 for current tablets.

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 weighs 581 grams with battery, while the 7.0 tablet weighs 344 grams. The 10.1 tablet has storage capacity of up to 32GB, and the 7.0 model has up to 8GB.

The tablets are capable of handling full high-definition video at 30 frames per second. The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 screen can display images at a 1280 by 800-pixel resolution, while the 7.0 screen can handle 1024 by 600 pixels. The tablets have 3-megapixel back cameras and VGA front cameras.

The new tablets look and similar to their predecessors and share some common features. The tablets run dual-core processors with a clock speed of 1GHz, which is similar to the chips used in the previous Galaxy Tabs.

"These devices were not intended to be a dramatic change in terms of hardware from the existing Galaxy Tabs because frankly we feel that the hardware on the existing Galaxy Tabs is still extremely competitive and still industry leading," said Travis Merrill, director of tablet marketing at Samsung, during a media briefing.

New on these tablets are microSD slots, which provides expandable storage of up to 32GB. A new IR blaster turns the tablets into smart remotes to control home entertainment systems.

The tablets also feature new Samsung technology called AllShare Play, which allows multimedia content to be shared between tablets, smartphones, TVs and other devices that are compatible with DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), a digital-content sharing standard. The Galaxy Tab 2 tablets can also stream multimedia or mirror images on TVs.

Samsung officials could not comment on when the tablets would ship in other countries.

Samsung was the third largest tablet vendor worldwide behind Apple and Amazon in the fourth quarter last year, according to IHS iSuppli. Gartner this week estimated tablet shipments to total 118.9 million this year, with Apple's iPad dominating the market, and Amazon and Samsung being the top Android tablet vendors.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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