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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  • Ashley1989 - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Hi, I'm awaiting for the launch of this machine in India, expected somewhere in the end of April. I'm inclined towards its sleek design and its task switcher feature. Its available on S3 too if you update your software. Can't wait to install One browser to it, download and surf at lightening speed. Its gonna be a deadly combo. Reply
  • superflex - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    No Editors Choice award?
    Enjoy the wrath of the Samsung Fanbois.
    Reply
  • herts_joatmon - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    This is the first review i've read to date on this that talks about the s-pen as a drawing tool and compares it to a similar product (the surface in this case). The main reason I wanted this was to use as a mobile sketchpad. I have concerns now having read that its not upto the standard of the surface pro. Saying that, I cant afford the Surface pro so I may have no other choice than this. Was it the pen itself that was the issue? Have your tried it with other Wacom pens? I've already gone out and bought the seperate s pen with erraser for the improved ergonomics and functionality assuming it would be a better experience than the standard pen supplied. Reply
  • Arbie - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    This is a real prospect for me. The screen size is just large enough to enjoy videos, while still being portable.

    What I really appreciate is the SD card slot. On a device so capable of media playback, it's a no-brainer to include a tiny, low-cost way of instantly swapping libraries of content in and out. The size of the internal storage is irrelevant to this - nothing beats micro/SD for loading and unloading media sets. The companies that omit SD in order to force higher prices for internal storage (!) will never get my business.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Still some company is charging $100 for extra 16GB while you can get 32GB card at $20. Reply
  • antef - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    lol, a menu button on a tablet??? Users will probably never even notice it's there. Imagine such a thing on an iPad or Nexus 10.

    Samsung just doesn't get it.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    It actually helps a lot to have external buttons on tablet, as it won't eat up screen real estate.
    I hate permanent on-screen buttons.
    Reply
  • Calista - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Fully agree, have always found the onscreen buttons of HC and ICS a bit akward, to easy to hit by mistake. But I guess real buttons would hinder the idea that the tablet should be able to be turned any way the user please. Unfortunately it still won't work that way since we always have the power and volume button and the speakers in fixed positions. Reply
  • antef - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    The problem with real buttons is flexibility. If you include a hardware menu key (Samsung), it creates a bad, disjointed UI experience and a button that sometimes does nothing depending on the app you're in. An app's functionality should be fully contained with the app's UI and a button off-screen to pull up some functions is not smart design. It's also completely inconsistent ith 10" tablets and thus hard for new users to learn which is why Google axed it. However, if you don't include a hardware menu key (HTC), you're stuck with a full-row black menu bar for legacy apps that expect an off-screen menu key. On-screen keys eliminate this issue and let you have the best of both worlds. Reply
  • HanakoIkezawa - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Im sorry but I fail to see how having dedicated buttons off screen create a broken experience in any way, shape or form. I for one cannot stand having wasted pixels on screen or having no dedicated Reply

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