GadgetsLab: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 210.8 x 135.9 x 8 mm (8.30 x 5.35 x 0.31 in)
  • Weight: 338 g (11.92 oz)
  • Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors 800 x 1280 pixels, 8.0 inches (~189 ppi pixel density)
  • Memory: 16GB internal, expandable via Micro USB
  • Processor: Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A9
  • RAM: 2GB
  • OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • Camera: Main: 5MP, secondary: 1.3MP
  • Battery: 4600mAh

What’s Hot:

  • Great execution of stylus features
  • Huge screen
  • Very reasonable weight

What’s Not:

  • Might be a little large for some

Bottomline:

  • If you make and consume a lot of content, you can’t go wrong with this guy.

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There is a lot to be said about the current state of tablet technology. They are now available at every price tier, and have features that range from what can only be classified as “bare” to “everything short of the kitchen sink.”  Tablets fill a very important niche in the gadgeteer’s arsenal, bridging the gap between the smartphone and notebook, doing tasks usually expected of one or the other. As such, tablets usually end up a little undercooked, lacking in a few tasks that a dedicated phone or laptop could tackle with no problem. Samsung has had a lot of experience in the smartphone, tablet and notebook arena, and it shows. The Galaxy Note 8.0 is the refinement of the tablet, choosing not to do things half way, but its own thing exceptionally well. We were lucky enough to spend a few days with the Note 8 before the launch to see if Samsung got the formula right.

As the name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is a handy little tablet with an 8-inch screen. The device itself is about the size of a pen-and-paper yearly planner, and roughly half the thickness. It has a nice heft to it, without being too heavy to use or carry around all day; its the perfect size to slip into a bag. Its likeness to a planner is more than just coincidence. Being of the Note family, this little device is ready to take on all the organization tasks you have to throw at it, thanks to a super-powered suite of note taking, calendar and stylus apps that give it more creative power than almost any tablet in the market today. At the heart of the productivity of the Note 8.0 is the stylus that neatly tucks away into the lower-left corner of the tablet when not in use. The stylus itself is incredibly handy. It lets you do a bunch more thinks than take notes or make clippings. Certain apps, such as the news aggregator Flipbook, or the email app allow the user to hover the stylus over folders to get a preview of the stories or photos that lie within. The video app also allows the same hover function to scan for a particular frame or scene in a video without having to interrupt playback. I found both functions to save quite a bit of time and frustration when dealing with the loads of photos and emails that magazine work brings with it.

Equally handy is the ability to quickly and easily write on the native calendar application, much like one would do with a pen and paper planner. It’s a lot more natural than making notes for occasions with the keyboard, and much faster to boot. For those who rely on textbooks and the like, the stylus continues to be an invaluable tool. If there are some lines that need particular attention, the stylus allows you to highlight them with a quick tap and swipe. By far my favorite function though, was the ability to write right on the page as soon as thoughts struck me. I imagine this would be of great use to students, as they can scan, convert and then write on their books in a handy digital format rather than lug piles of books around, possibly busting their backs in the process. The Note 8.0 even has a handy ebook reader mode that cuts glare and drops the screen brightness to a level that is comfortable for reading books, even for extended periods. A lot of the nights that I had the tab were spent consuming ebooks that I had accumulated over the many months I was without a tablet. The experience was made even more pleasant thanks to the Tab 8.0’s “Smart Stay”  feature that allowed the device to stay awake as long as I had my eyes on the screen.

 

Because of its sizable screen, but overall small footprint, the Note makes for a great tool for browsing the Internet. More comfortable than even the largest mobile phones, but not as clunky as a large tablet, the device was very easy to hold, even in the ever-changing landscape that is the bed, or the tight confines of the city’s trains. Wherever I found myself, I had the ability to catch up on the 20+ hours of shows I watch in a week, which is great when a lot of your time is spent traveling to and from events and meetings. While the display isn’t the sharpest, with Samsung opting for a TFT instead of the standard IPS screen, 189ppi is more than sufficient to watch videos, particularly if your only other option is a dinky little mobile phone screen.

The Galaxy Note 8.0 is also a full-featured phone. All I had to do was pop my micro-SIM into the little tray, and there I was, connected to the rest of the world through my magic 8-inch window. Be warned, with a device like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, you’re going to be online a lot. It’s just such a handy device on which to draw, sketch, write and share all the content you can imagine. It wasn’t a coincidence that I was able to be productive during the Holy Week break. While I didn’t really have any more time than usual, I was much better able to utilize the small pockets of time and channel them into productivity. The large 4600mAh battery was capable of keeping the device usable for just over a day of rather heavy use, including Wi-Fi, some mobile data, messages and videos, plus a Bluetooth keyboard.

I am sold on the Galaxy Note 8.0. It’s a great device that doesn’t try to be a compromise between gadgets, but instead fully accepts what it is, and does so in a way that no other device has in the past, really. There’s so much I want to write about the device, but don’t have room. I highly recommend this device, particularly if you are in any creative field. It’s a solid media consumption and production machine that will keep you chugging along no matter where you are.

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First Published in Gadgets Magazine, May 2013

Words by Ren Alcantara