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Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (GT-N5110)

By Leigh D. Stark | 12:03 pm 16/07/2013

Despite what Apple originally expected, the 7 to 8 inch tablet space is really heating up, grabbing attention from consumers because of how easy it is to carry these mobile computers.

Samsung has actually been in this space longer than most, and in the Galaxy Note 8, it’s almost like a marriage of the best of what Samsung has to offer right now.

Features

The latest entrant in Samsung’s Galaxy Note series of devices, the Note 8 adds a small tablet to a line-up that until this time has been made up of a big phone and a 10 inch tablet, with nothing in between.

For many of us, there isn’t a need to have a big phone, even if we really wanted to grab what many see as the future of note-taking, with a tablet that doesn’t just feature a stylus, but also finds a way to make it useful.

That’s where the Note 8 comes in, providing the middle ground with a sizable tablet with an 8 inch screen that makes it possible for a tablet to fit into most small bags. The resolution for the screen is the typical 1280×800 Android tablets have generally been supporting for well over a year now, with a pixel density just shy of 189 pixels per inch.

Inside the tablet is a quad-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, and Android 4.1.2 “Jelly Bean,” not the latest version but close to it.

A microSD slot is included too, in case 16GB isn’t enough and you need or want more storage.

The Galaxy S4 (left) next to the Galaxy Note 8 (right). There are similarities in the designs.

Because the Galaxy Note 8 tablet has been designed from a shadow of its smartphone siblings, there are similarities in the hardware, such as the connectivity, which supports 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and a microUSB port for charging and moving data to and from. Interestingly, Near-Field Communication (NFC) is missing from the equation.

Cameras are typically part of both the smartphone and tablet equation now, and that’s no different here, with a 5 megapixel rear camera without the flash, while a 1.3 megapixel sits up front for video conferencing and self-portraits.

Design of this tablet borrows heavily from the current Galaxy and Galaxy Note models which are built entirely in plastic and support one main physical home button at the bottom, while the typical two Samsung soft buttons — menu and back — are printed on the frame flanking either side of that home button.

The remaining hardware buttons are the power and volume rocker, which sit on the right edge, just above the infrared port.

Two speakers sit on the bottom, with a slot for the Galaxy Pen on the right corner, while the left edge sports the microSD slot and the top features the 3.5mm headset port.

Unlike Samsung’s smartphones, the back of this tablet cannot be removed, and neither can the 4600mAh battery.

Performance

Samsung has been making Android tablets longer than most of the brands out there, and while Apple beat most of the manufacturers with a proper next-generation device, Samsung was one of the first with a 7 inch model after it, the original Galaxy Tab.

We still have the original somewhere in a drawer, but remember it as the first solid attempt by a manufacturer to tell Apple that yes, there was a better option for hands than just the 9.7 inch iPad it was presenting to the world.

Fast forward a few years and as Asus and Google worked together to make the Nexus 7, Apple has finally seen a reason to compete in the handheld tablet computer space.

Meanwhile, Samsung has been changing and shaping mobile devices, bringing the pen back into the equation with its popular Note series.

The inclusion of a stylus isn’t the only reason these phones are going gangbusters: they’re big devices, making them easy to find, and helping the online mobile experience with a large viewing area.

But while some of us want a big note-taking phone, others want the note-taking device to be separate from the smartphone, and that’s where the Galaxy Note 8 comes in.

Pages: 1 2

Price (RRP)

$459

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Finally, Samsung is using the microUSB charge port for its tablets; Mobile edition of Android actually works better in this size than the tablet incarnation; Included S Pen means drawing and taking notes is possible in a useful size; Functions as an 8 inch remote control;

Product Cons

Plastic casing still isn't premium for us; Screen resolution is a little dated and could be better; No NFC; Performance is a little slow, especially in comparison to Samsung's smartphones;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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