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Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

The simplest way of describing the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is that it's a blown-up version of our favorite Samsung Galaxy Note II with a slimmer, 8mm-thick profile. But has it blown us away just as much? The simplest way of describing the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is that it's a blown-up version of our favorite Samsung Galaxy Note II with a slimmer, 8mm-thick profile. But has it blown us away just as much?

HardwareLike most Samsung Galaxies that preceded it, the tablet is clad in a glossy, plastic shell, which means it is more prone to smudges. The smudges are not that noticeable on our white review unit, but don't let this stop you from purchasing a hard case or a flip cover for the device.

With the exception of plastic flaps covering the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's microSIM and microSD card slots; bottom-firing, dual loudspeakers, which are small yet pleasingly loud; and non-removable rear panel, the similarities between the 8-incher and the Note II are plenty and unmistakable. Cases in point: the button layout and the profuse use of plastics, metallic bands, and tapered corners spanning both devices' circumference.

Speaking of button layout, the presence of Samsung's physical Home key, the one flanked by navigation keys for Menu and Back, suggests that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is as much a tablet as a smartphone. And rightfully so. It can make calls, send SMS, as well as connect to 3G networks, after all.

Samsung's Exynos 4412 chipset is responsible for powering all but one of the Galaxy Notes. The new Note 8.0 shares the same silicon as the Note II and sees a quad-core processor operating at 1.6GHz, along with Mali-400MP graphics, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of onboard memory, which is expandable up to 80GB (when paired with a 64GB microSD card). It makes use of Android Jelly Bean, which partly explains its brisk performance.

Using the horsepower at its disposal, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 genuinely warps forward in a way that feels every bit as fast and responsive as any on the local market. It's the small things. Slowdowns are barely noticeable as you cycle through home screens and menus, and there's almost no hesitation when launching apps and switching between them.

As far as graphics-intensive Google Play titles are concerned, gamers will find little to no fault with Samsung's upcoming hybrid. For instance, "Real Racing 3" works flawlessly on the Note 8.0. High frame rates are likewise to be expected from 3D games, such as "NBA 2K13," "Temple Run 2," and "God of Blades."

As for benchmark performance, this Samsung netted high scores across the board, as expected. Below are numbers we got using AnTuTu Benchmark, Quadrant Standard, NenaMark 2, and Vellamo Mobile.

As you may have gathered from its namesake, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's screen real estate measures 8 inches diagonally, meaning you won't have to squint your eyes when using certain apps in split-screen Dual View mode.

The display itself takes cues from the bigger Galaxy Note 10.1, so, whether you like it or not, you'll have to settle for a standard TFT PLS panel. Mind you, that's not such a bad thing, especially if you prefer cooler colors to the vibrant, contrasty visuals of Super AMOLED displays, albeit at the expense of weaker black levels.

S Pen
Obviously, this tablet-phone hybrid is complete without Samsung's S Pen. The stylus is the X-factor as far as hardware goes, and brings the newest Galaxy Note to greater heights with optimized onscreen recognition and better software integration.

With the exception of the Note 10.1's S Pen, it's also slightly longer and wider when compared with others. It's mostly a more S Note-friendly, more accurate version of the original. That's not to say it's a big leap from the second-gen Note's.

If you're familiar with Samsung's Galaxy S4 unveiling, you already know that the Seoul-based company has somewhat shifted its focus from introducing hardware firsts to improving its own software suite. It's only logical then that the Galaxy Note 8.0 ships with a bevy of Samsung-only apps, including a preinstalled Air View-optimized Flipboard.

And because we’ve already shared our opinion on the specs and hardware performance of the quad-core tablet, we thought it would be best to share with you our favorite software features.
  • Reader mode. Samsung is serious about pushing the Galaxy Note 8.0 as an e-reader killer, so it's expected that the 8-inch tab boasts a revamped page-turning experience in addition to the so-called Reader mode. What the latter does is it automatically tweaks the onscreen color temperature and contrast of certain apps, including Samsung content store Reader’s Hub. That way, text appears darker, making it really stand out from the background.
  • Idea Sketch. Fairly new to the Korean's line of S Pen-toting hybrids. Basically, it lets you write whatever object you're looking for on the Idea Sketch overlay, which then shows you a variety of clip arts you can transfer to your S Note canvass. 
  • Awesome Note HD. This personal note-taking and organizer app debuts on the Galaxy Note 8.0. It has support for high-res displays and a strong repertoire of useful templates, including diary types and shopping and to-do lists. 
  • Dual View. Samsung’s multi-window feature makes an appearance on the Note 8.0. The feature even brings the total number of supported apps up to 20 (from 16, we’re told), meaning it’s a yes for split-screen video watching or viewing news or social network feeds while writing a lengthy email.
  • Quick Command. With Quick Command, the tab-phone hybrid lets you assign and use gestures for instant access to often-used services, such as email, messaging, and Google Search. Firing it up is as easy as dragging the S Pen to draw a straight line from the bottom to the top of the screen while holding the stylus' button.

Battery life
We've had the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 for a few days now, and we're happy to report that we're pleased with its battery life. The 4,600mAh cell doesn't disappoint, lasting roughly two days with normal to heavy usage on a single charge. And by "normal to heavy usage," we mean several hours of combined telephony, sketching, gaming, Web browsing, and movie playback.To really put the battery through its paces, we switched on WiFi and allowed our email to sync in the background, fixed brightness at 50 percent, then played a 1080p video continuously. The next-gen Galaxy Note held out for more than 7 hours before the battery finally croaked. Obviously, the slate sips power even more judiciously with power-saving mode enabled and WiFi used sparingly.

Even better, the battery doesn't take a generation to recharge. In fact, charging time from empty to full usually takes three hours, which is surprisingly short given the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's relatively beefy cell.

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