Ina Fried

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Thin Is In at Samsung as Korean Firm Aims to Match Cupertino’s Slimness (Video)

It turns out that Samsung was doing more than just grumbling after Apple introduced its ultrathin iPad 2.

The company had just shown a new 10-inch tablet a couple weeks earlier, but quickly realized its product was a bit bulky to compete.

“We went back to the drawing board,” said Samsung Mobile executive Omar Khan, noting that the company already had some things cooking in its research labs. “We will not be outdone. It accelerated some of the commercialization of technology we already had in the works.”

Barely a month after showing the first 10.1-inch tablet, the company had a new, thinner design ready to announce. The actual devices, however, won’t ship until summer.

Indications that the products are still a work in progress abound at the Samsung booth. Although the company has working units of both the 8.9-inch and 10-inch tablets at its booth, all are in older, thicker shells. Even the working versions of the 8.9-inch model, which was only ever introduced in a thin casing, bears remnants of the older, thicker design.

And perhaps even this design is not final.

“Product design and specifications are subject to change without notice or obligation,” reads a sign next to the product.

The revamped tablets weren’t the only interesting thing at the Samsung booth, however. Other products include the Galaxy S II, a thinner, dual-core successor to the Galaxy S. That product was introduced at Mobile World Congress but has yet to hit the United States. Also on display was the Nexus S 4G, a CDMA version of the Gingerbread phone that is headed to Sprint’s network complete with Google Voice integration.

Two of the devices at the booth weren’t phones at all, at least not in the traditional sense. The Galaxy S Wi-Fi models are to the Galaxy S line of smartphones what the iPod Touch is to the iPhone. Although they don’t have a cellular module, the products are capable of making calls over Wi-Fi using voice-over-Internet services.

Samsung has already shipped a similar product, known as the Galaxy Player, in Korea. The U.S. models are due to ship in May and come in 4-inch and 5-inch screen models.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus