On MWC 2012, Samsung unveiled Galaxy Note 10.1, creating a new product category called ‘phablet’. This year, Samsung is back with Note 8.0, a S pen enabled device sitting between the 10.1 inch Galaxy Note tablet and the 5.5 inch Galaxy Note II smartphone.
Spec-wise, Note 8.0 is a mid-ranged device; its 8 inch screen sports a 1280 by 800 pixel resolution. Powered by 2 GB of RAM and a quad-core Exynos 1.6 GHz processor, the device comes with 16GB or 32GB storage options along with optional microSD card support. For imaging, there is a 5MP camera on the back and a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video calls. At 7.95mm, Note 8.0 is a thin device weighted only 338g, only marginally heavier than iPad mini. Design-wise, Samsung has not deviated from its recent product outlines. Note 8.0 looks just like a big-brother of Note II or Galaxy S III. The cheap glossy plastic dominating Samsung’s products is also quite visible in the device.
Samsung has at last enabled the S Pen to control the capacitive hardware keys, a long overdue for the Note. This new feature has made the S Pen compatible with 3rd-party applications. Flipboard is the first application to make use of this facility and the app will be shipped with the Note device.
Instead of the latest Android 4.2, Note 8.0 will run on Android 4.1.2. However, the device features the latest version of Touchwiz, Samsung’s own customization software. As Note 8.0 comes with a microphone, an integrated earpiece and a phone app, it is possible to make and receive phone calls on the device. Some other notable feature of the Note 8.0 includes IR Bluster, a TV Discovery app allowing the users to control their television and entertainment centers. The app provides show listings and schedule of various programs along with the facility of searching for live broadcast and video contents. Like HTC’s Sense TV app, the TV Discovery app is also powered by Peel.
The reading section is also improved on Note 8.0. Its display contrast is optimized in order to provide the users an easier and enjoyable reading experience. Samsung claims that the optimization will work with other relevant apps like Nook and Kindle if proper settings are applied.
The MultiView feature was introduced with Note 10.1; it allows the users to run multiple apps simultaneously. The feature is significantly improved in the new Note, ensuring a smooth performance. The browser is responsive and speedy even on slow connections.
The biggest drawback with Note 8.0 is its imaging performance. The camera takes a lot of time to focus and the images seem blown out, not quite good for an 8MP snapper. While the device keeps head-to-head competition with the iPad mini in all other aspects, it is of no comparison in camera department.
According to Samsung, Note 8.0 will be launched globally by the second quarter. Though Samsung has not declared any specific date for the device’s US launch, there will be Wi-Fi, LTE and HSPA+ versions eventually. The pricing of the device is not clear too, while the only known fact about its price is it will vary by different regions.
As competition in the tablet arena is gaining rapid intensity, various companies are trying their luck with innovative devices featuring different screen sizes and improved specifications. The latest addition in the competition, Galaxy Note 8.0 will compete against popular devices like iPad mini and Nexus 7; and it will be an interesting event to see how the latest Note copes with the competition.