Overall, the Note 8.0 is technically very impressive, with tons of great new features (lots more on these, below). However, Samsung has clearly looked at the increasingly busy market for 7-inch and 8-inch tablets and realised that it cannot compete on feature lists and tech specs alone.
Which is exactly why the Note 8.0 has been designed to be the post-PC world’s first truly multi-functional handheld tablet, perfectly suited to work, entertainment and creative play.
Harnessing the power of the S Pen
Samsung has included a Wacom digitizer layer in the Note 8.0’s capacitive touchscreen stack – the clever tech behind the even-cleverer pressure sensitive S Pen. For us, Samsung’s built-in S Pen is one of the truly unique selling points of the Note 8.0, with a bunch of great S Pen tutorial software and creative apps pre-loaded to introduce new users to this fantastic new input accessory.
What with the S Pen’s precision, sensitivity and impressive ability to mimic a user’s handwriting, many new users will soon eschew the use of a virtual touch-controlled QWERTY keyboard for everyday tasks such as web browsing or note-taking on Samsung’s handy S Note. Scribbling shopping lists on your tablet very quickly becomes a habit. As does enjoying a bit of good, old-fashioned idle doodling!
Professional designers and artists will clearly love the S Pen, as it offers the ability to create and work on the go like never before. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the S Pen is the fact that casual users can use it for everyday tasks, such as copying and pasting text, grabbing screenshots or selecting, cutting and annotating pics from the web to share on Facebook or Twitter.
Following the revelation that is the S Pen, multi-tasking with Samsung’s Multi Window is one of the other key “How did we live without this?” features on the GALAXY Note 8.0. Instead of wasting time endlessly flicking between your email, web browser, social media and various creative or work apps, simply open two windows at a time on the Note 8.0’s WXGA display. Multi Window works smoothly and quickly, handled capably by the 1.6GHz quad-core processor.
Work. Life. Balanced.
Many of us want a tablet primarily for watching movies, reading e-books, playing games, using creative photo and video apps and scanning the web for news while keeping an eye on our various social media feeds. Which means that some may question the benefits of additional productivity boosters such as a quad-core processor and the aforementioned S Pen, Multi Window and the Note 8.0’s pre-loaded Polaris Office Suite.
Yet once you’ve spent some time using the Note 8.0 it is exactly this speed, fluidity and overall ease-of-use that you immediately miss when you go back to using an older tablet. After all, multi-tasking isn’t only for work-related tasks – as you soon realise after spending some time watching a movie while monitoring your Twitter feed on the Note 8.0 on the train home from work.
Additionally, Google’s most recent version of Android – 4.1.2 Jelly Bean – is an operating system that perfectly complements the Note 8.0’s form factor, sprightly processor and multi-tasking ability. It is ideally suited to help users work, play or kick back and relax – watching a movie or listening to some tunes whenever they choose.
The cutting-edge processor, display, S Pen tech and the various productivity features have impressed us no end, but it is the overall sense of unity that we get from the tablet’s hardware and software design that really helps to raise the Note 8.0 considerably above the crowd. Samsung’s product designers and software engineers have clearly worked very closely together to ensure that the user experience is paramount.
Although Samsung is only shaving a couple of inches off the screen-size of a “traditional” 10-inch tablet, the look and feel of the Note 8.0 is truly unique. The 8-inch WXGA display display, with 800 x 1,280 pixels (at an impressive density of 189 ppi) oozes quality and offers a great viewing experience from all angles (which means that it works splendidly if you want share movies with partners, on a long-haul plane flight, for example).
Next up is the welcome solidity of the single physical home button at the bottom of the screen, with capacitive touch-sensitive menu and back buttons on either side, also offering the user a range of quick-access options.
For example, if you double tap the home button, you immediately access Samsung’s S Voice personal digital assistant. If you hold down the back button for a second or more then it opens (or closes) the Multi Window app selection sidebar. And if you keep the home button pressed down it brings up the Note 8.0’s Android task switcher. All of which are fast and easy ways of making multi-tasking fluid and quickly intuitive.
Looks like we got ourselves a reader!
The attention paid to the design of the 8-inch WXGA display is equally impressive, with Samsung offering a number of presets such as Dynamic, Standard and Movie modes. Not to mention intelligent options such as Smart Stay, which keeps the screen illuminated as long as the user is looking at it, with a built-in ambient light sensor that adjusts the display brightness depending on your environment.
For fans of e-books, perhaps the most impressive feature is the new Reader mode, which optimises the screen for reading when using apps such as Samsung’s Readers Hub or popular third party apps such as Amazon’s Kindle, Google Play Books and Kobo reader.
In addition to doubling-up as a superb e-reader, the Note 8.0 also works well as a second screen in the living room, with the pre-loaded Smart Remote app working well with pretty much any modern television and soon becoming an essential TV programme listings guide and infra-red remote control. A very clever move indeed on Samsung’s behalf, encouraging the user to want their Note 8.0 with them at all times.
Conclusion: portability meets productivity!
Overall, it really is genuinely difficult to pick any kind of fault with the GALAXY Note 8.0. This is a superb tablet that is stylish, light and deftly designed, not to mention fast, feature-rich, clever, intuitive, easy and, most importantly of all, a true joy to use.
Whether you require a pocket-friendly tab for working, creating, playing the latest Android gaming or simply kicking back on the sofa and enjoying some telly, this is the one.
Bottom-line? You can do loads more on the go with a GALAXY Note 8.0 than with any other tablet currently on the market.
Note to self: buy one immediately!