The latest addition to Samsung's pen-based tablet line, the Galaxy Note 8.0 matches a medium-sized screen with some pretty good specs. Does it measure up, and is it worth the cost? We take a look.
Build and Design
The Note 8.0's styling is pretty much one hundred percent contemporary Samsung, looking like a massively overgrown version of the Galaxy S III, with a white plastic casing, rounded corners, and a large dedicated home button at the bottom.
Straight out of the box, I was a little surprised by how light it was. At 12 ounces (340 grams,) it's actually measurably lighter than many of the 7-inch tablets like the Kindle Fire, despite having a larger screen and more battery power.
The casing might be a little too glossy for some people's tastes, but it doesn't show fingerprints very well. Currently it's only available in white, but that might change.
My only personal peeve with the main design is the use of the physical button for the Home command, which is a little awkward to press if you're using the S-Pen stylus at the time.
As the name implies, the Galaxy Note 8.0 sports an 8-inch screen, putting it in between the 7 inch "small" tablets and the 10 inch "large" ones. It's appreciably bigger than a 7-inch tab, but still closer to the small side, which lends it a bit more portability. That one additional inch offers about 35% more screen space to the user compared to a 7-inch tablet, but it's still only about two thirds of what a 10-inch tablet offers, making it very much a compromise option.
At 1280 x 800 resolution, and 189 DPI, the Note 8.0 isn't pushing the envelope in terms of screen resolution by any means, but that doesn't stop it from having a nice screen that's easy on the eyes. The worst thing I can say about it is that the default "automatic" brightness setting is way too low; in most situations you're going to want to set the brightness manually. I'm not sure why it's so stingy, since the Note has enough juice that you don't need to coddle the battery. But you can easily adjust brightness manually from the notification pull-down window.
Other Buttons and Ports
Unlike many of Samsung's tablets, the Galaxy Note 8.0 uses a standard micro-USB plug in place of the older proprietary connector, so you can charge the tablet off any USB plug. That might take awhile, since the tablet's own charger is rated at 2.1 amps, two to four times what most generic chargers will offer, but just being able to do it without having to haul around a special cable is a nice touch. Even nicer for travelers or people carrying multiple devices, since you can charge everything from the same power supply.
The left side of the device has the small cover protecting the microSD card slot, while the right side hosts the power button and volume controls. The Note 8.0 also features stereo speakers, but both of these are located on what's nominally the "bottom" of the tablet on either side of the micro-USB port, so if you turn the tablet to landscape, they're both going to be either on the left or on the right. Which doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but then I didn't design it.
Page 2 of this review covers the performance of this mid-range tablet.
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