There’s no doubt that the tablet market has been completely saturated at this point. There have been so many successful tablets, and unsuccessful tablets, that there is practically a marketing guidebook on how to make a compact version that should please consumers.
Sitting outside the engineering world and somewhat naive to the intricate details that go on in such a high-profile company’s manufacturing departments; I imagined Samsung’s Galaxy 8.0 tablet should have been the easiest decision that Samsung had to make. The company already had the enormously successful ‘Galaxy S3′, and the well-received Galaxy Note 10.1 behind them. All they have to do is take the best of each size, and meet in the middle.
Overall that’s exactly what Samsung did, customers get the 1,280 x 800 TFT display from the Galaxy note 10.1, with the portability and the convenience of an 8″ design similar to the Galaxy S line. The tablet is even highlighted with the same chrome features that you would see on their phones. Inside consumers will use the 1.6GHz Exynos 4 Quad processor, which is one of the highlights of this tbalet that I will touch on later. In the end though, Samsung has to beat the iPad Mini and the Google Nexus 7″ tablet and the Kindle Fire HD, which are made by the most well known tablet makers in the market
Samsung likes lightweight, clean and cheap when it comes to body-casings, and it’s present in the Galaxy Note 8.0 model. Overall the body is a smooth plastic design, that doesn’t stand out in any fantastic or terrible way. It’s the vanilla of hardware casings, designed to be accepted by the largest demographic of tablet shoppers. There’s a reason why plastic is so widely used however and those benefits shouldn’t be ignored. Plastic keeps the Galaxy Note 8.0 light, it makes the device comfortable to hold (even with one hand), it doesn’t get slippery after extended use and can take a beating without easy-scratches or chips. The 5-megapixel camera (which doesn’t have a flash) stops the Galaxy Note 8.0 from having a perfectly smooth back however, it forms a knob like previous models.
The camera and video capabilities of the Galaxy Note 8.0 are not going to win any awards, or in fact be treated very will by anyone I imagine. I personally don’t consider a tablet as a prime source of photography or as a video source, but if you do you should take into consideration the following. The 5MP rear-camer and the 1.3MP front camera are not a serious installment in this device, in fact they seem like an afterthought. Video that was captured at 720p was choppy and nothing exciting. Samsung will tell you the camera has the following features, “Auto Focus; Shot Modes, Buddy Photo Share, Cartoon, Panorama, Share Shot, Single Shot, Smile Shot; Geo-tagging; Camcorder; DivX®; HD Recording; HD Playback; Video Share; TV-Out; Online Image Uploading”. All of that is true, but all of the photography and video-capture is on the low end of the tablet spectrum, especially for a device to come out this late in the game.
Other design elements are much more efficient, like the controls for standard functions. All of the primary keys are now located on the right hand side of the device. This includes the power-button and the volume keys. Though when Apple discontinued the volume rocker on the iPhone it was because so many people disliked the button’s design, and its habit of breaking. That fact that companies still use the rocker-system after such a large audience voiced their opinions, confuses me to say the least. On the left edge is where you will find the covered microSD port, which is a popular and convenient connection choice. Speakers are once again an issue with the Galaxy Note 8.0′s design. The Galaxy 10.1 put the speakers on the front (an obvious choice you may think) but like so many tablet designers before them, Samsung put the speakers along the side edge. This means that you can cover the speakers while holding the device in landscape mode.
The S pen is one of the features that Samsung mindfully included in the tablet to standout in the market. The Windows 8 Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T has a stylus, but the iPad mini and the Google Nexus 7″ do not. There may be a reason for this however, when using the Galaxy Note 8.0 there was never a time that the S pen really was a necessity. I could see someone with larger fingers, or someone that needed graphic design elements using it, but I don’t think anyone would use the S pen as a selling point when picking out the Galaxy Note 8.0. Unless of course you were in graphic design like I mentioned earlier, then it’s one of the best tools this tablet has over its competition.
Earlier in the review I said that the Galaxy Note 10.1 had the same resolution as the Galaxy 8.0. If you haven’t used the Galaxy 10.1 you may think that this an incredible feat for the Galaxy 8.0 to acquire, but it’s not. In fact, you’re taking a resolution that was on the low-end of the spectrum for 10″ tablets, and making it finally satisfactory on an 8″ tablet. The smaller screen allows for a higher ppi of 189 which beats out Apple’s ipad mini of 163 ppi but the Google Nexus 7″ tablet has a 216 ppi on a 7″ screen. So it’s not the best, not the worst, and in the end it’s very clear and offers a above-satisfactory performance.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 runs on Android 4.1 (Jellybean) though the Google Nexus 7″ does run on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. The tablet does come with some impressive software features though, and that’s where it starts to stand out. In the business world there is “Group Play” allowing you to share your screen wirelessly on their own devices. The Multi Window capabilities are actually a true multitasking feature, which lets you run multiple applications at the same time and offers a UI that makes it easy to use and convenient. The Galaxy Note 8.0 also easily works with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel which can be a huge selling point for mobile workers. Although other tablets offer this interaction, the abilty to easily edit documents with a clean and simple UI, all in an environment that resembles the platform version, earns the Galaxy Note 8.0 some much deserved praise.
I’ve already touched on the 2GB RAM & 16GB On-board Memory that runs the Galaxy Note 8.0, and the Exynos 1.6 GHz Quad-Core CPU. None of those stats are worthwhile though if it lacks battery-power or contains CPU draining software in daily use. In this category the Galaxy Note 8.0 runs extremely well. There are no real hang-ups when it comes to running applications, even in multitasking. Launching videos or other applications is fast and the hardware of the tablet really stands out among the competition as you get further into heavier application or are doing a lot of creative work or editing. Everything about the Galaxy Note 8.0 is smooth and timely and I didn’t have any qualms with it’s performance overall.
Without tweaking any battery-stats and keeping the brightness up (close to full) and using standard internet and email functions with a constant wi-fi connection (like you would have using it in your home or office mostly) the battery is about a 1.5 to or 2 days max. It’s not going to break any records, but you won’t have to charge it from morning until night even with heavier than usual use. I consider that acceptable, not fantastic, and you are free to disagree. I feel a person should use their tablet however they want to, and it should last until they go to bed and charge it while they are sleeping. I think that’s the “average” line of acceptability, and that’s where it fits. If you are watching movies away from a power-supply, it will last 6.5 to 7 hours if you don’t turn off wi-fi and other battery draining features.
- The Enjoyable
- Exynos 1.6 GHz Quad-Core is fast and responsive
- S Pen offers terrific graphic design options
- 1280 x 800 display on par with competition
- Easy integration with Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel
- TouchWiz UI is clean and useful
The Galaxy Note 8.0′s processor and 2GB of ram helps it stand out in the small-tablet market, and offers a fast and responsive system that will also allow it a lot room to grow. That’s really what you are paying for with the $399 WiFi-only 16GB model. That’s the the true selling point of the device. Everything else (Microsoft Office features, S Pen, office presentations and home-sharing) will only dazzle you if you are specifically looking for those features. The real problem for Samsung is that the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 are $199, and the iPad Mini is $329. So if you are comparing among these four options (iPad mini, Google Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD, and Note 8.0) here’s where the Galaxy Note 8.0 stacks up:
The 8-inch, 1,280 x 800 display is brilliant and clear, and the Exynos 4 Quad processor with 2GB of RAM puts it heads-ans-shoulders above the others on the list. The OS (Jelly Bean) is efficient, offering a fast and responsive interface without any interruptions or hiccups. All of the ‘TouchWiz’ software makes the tablet a powerful tool around the house and office (though it does take some novice technical know how to get everything running and sharing off your device).
- Needs Improvement
- Higher price-point
- Mediocre camera
- Poor speaker placement
As an entertainment device it is on par with the other three, not offering too much more other than the faster and more responsive AI. The e-reading features make the Galaxy Note 8.0 an excellent blend of a Kindle and an ipad, while the S pen can serve as a fantastic input device if you choose to use it. It’s the price and the battery that you may have an issue with, and both of these stats are so subjective that you can’t truly tell one person what they will enjoy or despise. I can say that with my normal use (mentioned above) I did not have any problems with the battery, but for a device that costs more than the other three competitors I was hoping for more.
That could be the entire tag-line for this whole review, it’s normal, even superior in some ways but I was expecting more. There’s isn’t anything (software, hardware or design) that would stop me from buying a Galaxy Note 8.0 or even recommending one to a friend. The hardware alone makes it at least an option that you should pick up and try before disregarding as a choice. In a market that is so bloodthirsty and so competitive however, I think that asking for a higher price means that you have to really raise the bar, and although all aspects of this tablet meets or exceeds expectations.. I don’t know if people will leave their current manufacturer for a higher price.