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Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 review

 Review: May 2013  
 

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Galaxy Note 8.0 is a mid-sized tablet with the benefits of 3G and an S-Pen stylus. It's a fast, quad-core device with plenty of memory but expensive.



 

Is 8 the new 7?

There was once a simpler time when tablets came in a choice of two sizes: 7 inch and 10 inch. Now they're all over the place. Samsung's Note 8.0 fits in at the lower end, measuring 8 inches where it counts - diagonally across the screen. Has it got the magic ingredient that will make us throw our other tablets in the bin and declare that 8 inches is the perfect size?

Steve Jobs famously declared that 7 inch tablets were too small, but then Apple released the iPad Mini with a 7.9 inch screen. The extra inch doesn't sound like much, but it adds 30% more screen size and makes it easier to do a lot of tasks. Eight inches might just be the sweet spot.

First impressions

The 8.0 inch display gives less room to manoeuvre than with a full 10 inch screen, but it's a good compromise. The advantage is increased portability. The screen resolution is 1280 x 800, which is the same as the larger Galaxy Note 10.1, so the display has a pixel density of 189ppi and is quite sharp. It's a higher pixel density than the iPad Mini, which presumably was Samsung's number-one objective.

The Note 8 is slightly larger than the iPad Mini, but is curvier, so you probably won't notice any real difference in handling the two. Weighing 338g, it's considerably lighter than the 10 inch version of the Note, making it much more portable, but once again the iPad Mini beats it, weighing just 308g.

One unique selling point of the Note is its S-Pen. The S-Pen is a pressure-sensitive stylus that enables you to make notes on top of photos and other documents and to edit photos. Handwriting recognition is supported, so the Note can turn your scrawls into text and even turn handwritten mathematical formulae into digital form and plot graphs. Certain apps are customised to utilise the special features of the S-Pen, including the excellent S-Planner calendar and organiser app.

Power inside

The Note 8.0 is armed with a quad-core processor running at 1.6GHz, which makes it one of the fastest tablets on the market. The 2GB of RAM enables it to multitask and crunch through demanding apps without any hiccups.

The built-in storage is just 16GB in the UK version. Whilst this falls behind the 64GB available to the iPad user, the Note does allow you to add a 64GB microSD card for extra memory at very little cost.

Android Jelly bean 4.1

The Note 8.0 runs Android Jelly bean 4.1, plus Samsung's TouchWiz user interface.

5 megapixel camera

The Note 8.0 has a 5 megapixel camera, with an LED flash and autofocus, although the form factor of a tablet isn't the best for taking great shots.

A second front-facing camera enables self portraits and video calling and is a more practical option on a tablet.

Fully mobile with 3G

One advantage that the Note 8.0 has over many of its rivals is that it's 3G enabled, so you can take it anywhere, even to places that Wi-Fi cannot reach. You can also do phone-style operations with it too, like sending texts and even making voice calls. It's perhaps surprising that it doesn't have 4G though, especially since the iPad Mini does.

3G also gives it the benefit of aGPS and Glonass to find an accurate location in Google Maps.

Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, a microUSB and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It's missing NFC however, which is a clearly missed opportunity.

Battery life

The 4,600mAh battery is typical for a smaller tablet and delivers performance similar to that of the iPad Mini or the Google Nexus 7.

Conclusion

There's no doubt that the Galaxy Note 8.0 has the iPad Mini in its sights. But how does it stack up against its arch-rival? It's ever so slightly bulkier than the iPad Mini, but it has a higher resolution screen. It has a quad-core processor compared with Apple's dual-core and 2GB of RAM instead of the iPad Mini's paltry 512MB. The iPad Mini does have the benefit of 4G.

Taken on its own merits, the Note 8.0 is a very competent mid-sized tablet. 3G gives it full portability and it could even replace your smartphone if you hardly ever make voice calls and don't mind holding a slab against your ear when you do. An 8 inch screen increasingly feels like a good size for a tablet, and it's a form factor that we like at S21.

However, Samsung have over-priced this device. With a 4G iPad Mini available for about the same price, and a Wi-Fi only version of the iPad Mini significantly cheaper, the Note 8.0 feels like it's too expensive. A price of around £300 would have been more realistic, and if you can find it at that price, then it would be a good buy.


Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 features include:

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Reviewed by Binu John from Bahrain on 8th Jun 2013
I have received it one week back as a contract tablet. Waiting for this for few months because as per the spec. it is an excellent product. My first idea was to purchase a Note 10.1 but I feel that it is more heavy to handle and expensive. As per my opinion Note 8.0 is an excellent product , if you are ready to spend some extra bucks. Especially for a designer or an Engineer or an artist or you are a fan of Facebook or you are a travelling person looking for a portable device with long battery life and telephone capabilities (It is a 3G devise), it is an excellent product....
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