Final Words

Samsung’s strategy in the mobile market appears to be success through catering to a sea of niches. I’ve also heard it referred to as having a device at every inch. In this sense, Samsung is the antitheses of Apple where simplicity in product lines is paramount. I’d argue that the right approach is likely a mix of the two. Samsung may have too many products, while Apple may offer too few.

The good news is, if you’re very specific in your needs there’s likely a product made almost perfectly for you.

When the Galaxy Note 10.1 launched, I felt the tablet had potential but was largely held back by unpolished/unfinished software. Since its launch, Samsung addressed many of initial complaints about things like multi-window app compatibility and window focus lag. The result is a far more usable platform that still doesn’t feel native, but doesn’t feel hacked together either. The Galaxy Note 8.0 benefits from showing up after the software updates, meaning it looks a lot more polished out of the gate.

Indeed it’s tough to find fault with the Galaxy Note 8.0. It’s a good size, has a good display and offers a little more than your standard Android tablet. The inclusion of the S Pen, IR blaster and multi-window features aren’t enough to justify the price premium over a Nexus 7 for me personally, but I can see how they would convince others. If you want a one-handed note taking assistant on the go and/or constantly find yourself wishing you could read email and browse the web on your tablet, then the Galaxy Note 8.0 is without equal in the Android or iOS space. The S Pen experience on the Note isn’t perfect, it’s definitely not as natural as writing on real paper with an actual pen, but at this price point it’s surprisingly decent. You can definitely get a better pen experience on Microsoft’s Surface Pro, particularly when it comes to drawing, but at more than 2x the cost.

Where the Note 8.0 falls short is primarily in its battery life. In general you’re looking at anywhere from 10 - 40% less time on a single charge compared to the iPad mini, despite having a slightly larger battery. Power efficiency is just as important as outright performance, and this is something the folks at Samsung’s SoC division have yet to master. It’s not immediately obvious how much of a role the panel plays in all of this, but looking at our GLBenchmark battery life results it’s clear that the SoC has a significant impact.

Is the Galaxy Note 8.0 worth buying? If you're upgrading from an older Galaxy Tab 8.9, the Note 8.0 is worlds better in pretty much every way. It's faster, lasts longer on a single charge, can do more and ships with a newer version of Android. Ultimately what will sell you on this tablet vs. the Nexus 7 (or iPad mini if you’re cross shopping) is the S Pen and Samsung’s Android customizations. If you’re sold on the former, then the Note 8.0 is a good fit for you. If you're not however, then depending on your needs the Nexus 7 (or waiting for this year's model), iPad mini and Nexus 10 are all great alternatives.

What could turn the Note 8.0 from a solid niche contender to a formidable competitor is rather simple. With a higher resolution display (and accompanying tweaks to make TouchWiz a little more subtle in its screen presence) and a faster SoC, the Note 8.0 could really play up the productivity angle. Without a doubt the next generation of this platform will incorporate some sort of Cortex A15 based SoC, which should make it even better for multitasking. Couple that with an awesome panel and tightened up UI and Samsung could have a broad winner on its hands.

NAND Performance
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  • nerd1 - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Actually S note lags a lot with Ativ smart PC (clover trail) but it's way better with oneNote. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Display analysis: You only show the contrast ratio for the highest brightness setting. In display reviews, you at least have min/max brightness contrast ratios. That is better, but you should really have a contrast/brightness diagram with at least 11 data points (0% to 100% in 10% increments).

    "Unfortunately one of the hallmarks of TouchWiz is that all icons and widgets are considerably larger than they are under iOS" -> I don't see that in the picture you posted below that. It looks more cramped because it has more icons in the same space (5 horizontal on a 16:10 display vs. 4 on a 4:3 display and 6 vertical vs 4 vertical). If they are considerably larger, I should see it with my eye. But I don't. Can you provide measurements of the icons?

    I agree completely with your tablet size assessment. I've had a 10" Android tablet for about 10 months now. It got used a lot when it was new (as any gadget does). But then the usefulness quickly plummeted and I often found myself wanting to be able to do more with it. Especially shoddy video playback was an annoyance. Any laptop or PC I own that is 5 years old or younger plays anything I through at it smoothly through either MPC-HC or VLC. For Android, I can never be sure until I try and often, even stuff that should play fine (720p downloaded content encoded for iTunes) stutters and has async video/audio on several players. So my 11.6" notebook (Core i3-330UM) took over most travelling duties again and the tablet got used as a toilet device and a portable console for young visitors. Now I have a 11.6" Samsung Core i tablet which I love. Battery life is of course shorter, but I still get through a day of use and that's all I need. If I had to buy a new tablet today, the 7" to 8" form factor would be what I would look at. But personally, I'm looking for a ~6" phone (Note 3 perhaps?) because my 4.7" GN feels positively tiny after a year of use and going to 6" would give me great pocketability, allow me to carry it everywhere while also giving me more real estate and let me stay with 2 portable devices instead of 3. :)
    Reply
  • rkcth - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    I use a jailbroken ipad mini with VLC and it plays anything I throw at it, been watching the whole series of true blood and its awesome. The only issue I ever have is with audio syncing after pausing, I usually have to click the done button and reclick the video to get it to resync properly, but I'm pretty sure that's a bug in VLC since it only happens after pausing and playing. Reply
  • herts_joatmon - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    It may just be the codex. I get the same problem on my android tablet with my true blood rips Reply
  • TareX - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    This is making me even look more forward to the Note 3... Now that's a device that should last a long time before upgrading. Sorry HTC/Sony... you've had your chance to produce a proper phablet but you haven't delivered. Reply
  • FlyBri - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    The Note 8.0 is for a niche market at this price to such an extent that I believe sales figures will be considerably lower than Samsung expects. As such, I see a price cut in the near future. I was looking forward to the Note 8.0. While the S pen is a great feature, it's not an absolute must have for me. To me, $399 is WAY too much to ask, and I think the market will reflect this with lower sales numbers. If Samsung even cut $50 off the price they'd be in much better shape... Reply
  • enealDC - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Another Android Tablet that will be useless in a matter of months! They are great to look at and hold and consume content on, but when the novelty wears off and you have business to get to, close the tablet and fire up your laptop (I'm a Transformer Prime owner).
    The next device I get is going to be a Microsoft Surface Pro for sure!
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Having used win8 tablet for years and now using galaxy tab 7.7 for my main mobile device (including phone!), I cannot disagree more. Reply
  • thesavvymage - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    please tell me, which windows 8 tablet have you been using for years? There are NONE that have been out for more than a year. Installing the consumer preview on something else i guess was possible a year ago Reply
  • nerd1 - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    W8 developer preview was available july 2011, and I've been using EP121, W500, slate 7. Reply

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