11:55 am - Tuesday October 21, 2014

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Reviews

It seems like we’re saying this too much lately, but we have another member of the Galaxy family. We actually have another member of the Galaxy Note family. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily the one most people are waiting for. No, it’s not the Galaxy Note 3, but the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet – the smaller derivative of the Galaxy Note 10.1 we tested at the end of last year.

When it was announced at MWC back in February it took a lot of flack because of the fact that it can make phone calls. To be honest, we agree in this regard. No one would be caught dead with this behemoth on their ear. But in fact, it won’t be predominantly used as a smartphone, but as a stylus enabled tablet easier to handle than its larger sibling.

Here are some of the key features:

    8.0″ 16M-colour LCD capacitive touchscreen of 800 x 1280 pixel resolution

    Android OS v4.1.2 with TouchWiz launcher

    1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU, Mali-400MP GPU, 2GB of RAM, Exynos 4412 Quad chipset

    S Pen active stylus with deep system integration

    5 MP wide-angle lens autofocus camera with face detection

    720p HD video recording at 30fps

    16/32/64GB internal storage, microSD slot

    Stereo Bluetooth v4.0Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

    microUSB port with USB host and TV-out (1080p) support, MHL, charging

    Accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor

    1.3MP secondary video-call camera

    4600 mAh battery

Is this device any good? We have spent quite some time with it, and we feel that we have a verdict. It has many positives, but the list of negatives isn’t non-existent. Let’s investigate further.

Online Reviews of Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Design and Build

1

Let us talk about the first things first. We tore the Galaxy Note 10.1 to shreds because of its shoddy build quality. The plastic was ugly, felt unpleasant and it would creak and bend under normal use. It was a massive let down from a company that was on the top of the world when it came to smartphones but was still trying to get a foothold in the tablet market. Luckily though, the Note 8.0 is built more like the Galaxy S range and it makes a world of difference.

While we are still not massive fans of the design of the Galaxy S range and then by extension, the Galaxy Note 8.0, it is a massive improvement on the larger tablet’s design. That being said (and we have said this multiple times before), we feel this design language is now starting to become dated, even though Samsung decided to stick with it for the Galaxy S4. We are really getting tired of the plastic aesthetic; hopefully the Galaxy S4 was the last of its kind.

Overall the device feels very similar to the Galaxy Note 2. Whether that is a good thing we will leave to you to decide, but using it was quite comfortable. It is also very light, which helps a lot.

3

Battery

The battery comes in at 4600 mAh, which seems like a pretty substantial amount of juice. Considering the screen doesn’t have a massive resolution we certainly expected it to last a couple of days under regular use.

Unfortunately that was not the case. Use it sparingly and you will get about two days’ worth of use from the battery. Under normal use though, don’t expect to get much more than a day. Heavy users might need to plug in every night.

Screen

5

As you might have guessed with the name Note 8.0, the screen is now 8 inches in size. It has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution and the quality is actually quite nice.

The Note 8.0 has a standard LCD – Samsung has given up AMOLED in tablets for the time being with the Galaxy Tab 7.7 remaining its only attempt so far. And this is said not without regret. AMOLED screens are now reserved for the Note phablets, while tablets get LCDs. The one in the Note 8.0 gets the job done.

While the display quality is understandably far from what you’d see on a new 1080p flagship smartphone, for example, it’s fairly crisp to the naked eye, and offers a sharper image than many of Samsung’s other tablet offerings, such as the Tab 2 7.0. It also beats out Apple’s iPad Mini in terms of ppi, or pixels per inch, coming in at 189 ppi.

Performance

The Galaxy Note 8.0 has a 1.6GHz quad core processor and it runs on 2GB of RAM. It is a powerful device suited to the multitasking capabilities it is meant to handle. Samsung is touting this capability more than ever and believes this is the direction tablets have to take to become a fully-fledged computing machine.

While we found the performance of the operating system adequate, it inevitably had the same problems we have seen with every iteration of Samsung’s Touchwiz interface. In some strange places you do tend to have a bit of a lag, which is a shame with these kind of top notch internals.

User Interface

4

We won’t hammer on about the incompetency of certain aspects of Touchwiz – we have done it on many other Samsung devices. How about a quick summary? Well, Touchwiz is a double-edged sword. There are many redeeming qualities to it, but ultimately, they include more options and settings than we care for or will ever use and TouchWiz really is more of a mess than ever before. Some are new to this Note.

Now that it is done and dusted, we can move on and look at the positives. The biggest change Samsung has made in this Note variant is the ability to trigger navigation using the soft keys with the S-Pen, which many Note users have been asking for for years. This makes a big difference in your everyday use of this Note, and it is the easiest Note to use. With previous Notes it was quite cumbersome to be using the stylus on the screen and then suddenly needing an option from one of the soft keys where you then had to use a finger. While this might seem like a small change or enhancement, it actually completely changes the effectiveness of how you use a Note and we are sure it will be included in the Galaxy Note 3.

It runs Android 4.1.2 out of the box and comes with all the bells and whistles we saw with the release of Jelly Bean, like the brilliant Google Now and enhanced Google Maps.

WatchOn, a programming guide and remote control app turns this Note into a universal remote. Functionality in SA is still a bit limited, but we have hopes that it will increase with time. It also comes with a reading mode, where it adapts this Note for e-reading which takes away the harsh light of an LCD screen. Then we have air view; while this isn’t anything new it now works on the Note’s custom Flipboard app which is pretty neat.

Overall it is the same Samsung UI experience we have seen in the past couple of years with a couple of minor changes and tweaks. If you didn’t like the Samsung interface before, steer clear from this Note variant.

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