American to offer Galaxy Tab 10.1 to premium class passengers

Tablet will provide in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi

American Airlines will deploy 6,000 new Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets onboard some of its international and transcontinental flights in business and first class later this year.

The move marks the first time an airline in North America has offered a branded tablet onboard an aircraft to provide in-flight entertainment, American officials said.

American didn't reveal the maker of its current personal entertainment device used on its planes, which will be replaced with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 on certain flights.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is Wi-Fi enabled and is the slimmest on the market at 8.6 mm (about a third of an inch). It runs the Android 3.1 mobile operating system. It is on sale only at the Best Buy Union Square location in New York City and will be sold nationwide starting Friday, Samsung said. It comes in two Wi-Fi versions: a 16GB model for $499 and a 32GB model for $599.

Customers will be able to use the devices to purchase wireless service on American's planes equipped with Wi-Fi to check email and browse the Internet, among other functions.

American and Samsung are working on which specific features it will offer without the need for Wi-Fi, such as movies, TV shows and games, a Samsung spokeswoman said. Samsung plans to customize the tablets for in-flight entertainment needs, including expanding the memory allotment, she said. A specific amount has not been determined.

The 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab

Nancy Gohring of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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