Feeds
Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Proof the pen is mightier?

Sammy’s iPad Mini killer has a stylus to stab other rivals too

Business security measures using SSL

Review Bewildering. That’s the best word to describe Samsung’s small tablet range. Since the second half of 2010, the Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 8.9, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Tab 7.0 Plus and Tab 7.7 blurred one into the other, much to the confusion of the average customer and me.

Thankfully, the Samsung fondleslab now sat on my desk is a Note, not a Tab, the signature difference between the two being the Wacom digitiser-equipped S-Pen stylus. If a tablet has one, it’s a Note. If it hasn’t, then it’s a Tab.

The stylus and name also makes it easy to see where the Note 8.0 sits in the grand scheme of things: slap bang between the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy Note 10.1.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8: give it a big hand - it’ll need one

Externally, the Note 8 looks like a pumped-up Note 2 right down to the curvy hyperglaze plastic body and physical home button. And, like the Note 2 and the Galaxy S4, the plastic body makes the Note 8 feel just a little low rent. It’s not as if it pays dividends in the weight department either: at 338g the Note 8 is only 2g lighter than a Google Nexus 7 but 30g heavier than an iPad Mini. But the body doesn’t make fingerprints obvious and it feels very pleasant in the hand.

At 8mm deep and 210.8 x 135.9mm in size, Sammy’s latest tablet isn’t overly portly for an 8-inch device but, again, the iPad Mini is thinner and smaller despite only having a fractionally smaller display. Like the Apple gadget, the Note 8’s battery is fixed in place and the tablet is just a bit too wide to comfortably hold in one hand for a prolonged period.

Name and S-Pen aside, the similarities between the Galaxy Note 8.0 and Note 2 include the chipset, the processor speed, the Android build (4.1.2) and - give or take a few pixels - the screen resolution.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Micro USB and stereo speakers at bottom

You could argue that 1280 x 800 pixels doesn’t quite cut the 8-inch mustard in this day and age. The resulting pixel density is only 189dpi which while better than the iPad Mini’s 162dpi is well short of the Note 2’s 267dpi, or the 216dpi of the Nexus 7. It’s worth clarifying that unlike the rather uninspiring 8-inch Acer Iconia A1 tablet Reg man Tony tested recently, the Note isn’t a 4:3 device but rather a widescreen-friendly 16:10.

In all honesty though, the display looks pretty sharp and crisp, while the screen size and aspect ratio combined with the broadly curved corners and thin top and bottom bezels - well, thinner than the Nexus 7 anyway - make it a very comfortable device to hold in landscape orientation while watching video or playing a game.

As soon as you turn the Note 8 on you’ll notice that the screen is a traditional LCD panel rather than Samsung’s usual Super AMOLED. This means it lacks the Note 2’s eye-catching vividness and super-saturated colours. As tablet screens go, though, it’s a decent enough pudding: bright, colourful and with reasonably good levels of contrast, though its performance in broad daylight was not spectacular.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The all-important micro SD card slot

Thanks to sharing the same parts bin as the Note 2, the Note 8 packs an Exynos 4412 quad-core 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, Mali-400MP graphics core, 2GB of RAM, plus GPS and Wi-Fi. Those bits and pieces give it a decent lick of speed, though the Note 8’s AnTuTu benchmark scores can’t match the Galaxy S4’s - 16,800 versus 25,800 - thanks in part to the Mali-400 GPU getting a bit long in the tooth.

That’s not something you need worry about though. All the 3D games I tested on the Note 8 - Real Racing 3, ShadowGun:Deadzone, NOVA 3 - ran perfectly at maximum definition so this really is a case of synthetic benchmark scores highlighting a difference that otherwise you won’t be able to discern.

The Note 8 runs Android under Samsung’s all-pervasive TouchWiz user interface, but that’s OK because TouchWiz makes more sense on tablets that it does on smartphones. The extra screen area makes it look less cartoonish and gives features such as multi-window apps and floating video player more room to breathe. If you really can’t stomach TouchWiz, all the third-party software launchers I tried worked a treat and didn’t mess with any of Samsung’s bespoke baked-in functionality.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The webcam and the ambient light sensor

In much the same way, the S-Pen also makes more sense when combined with a larger screen. This may have something to do with my wretched handwriting, but the extra space afforded by an 8-inch screen had me reaching for the stylus far more frequently than when I was using the Note 2. The Note 8’s handwriting recognition - toggled directly from the very nice swipe-enabled keyboard - is solid.

As with the Note 2, the oval-profile stylus lives in a slot at the bottom on the device. Slide it out and the Note 8 goes ‘beep’ - thankfully this can be disabled - and a dedicated context menu and home screen automatically opens. The primary apps for S-Pen are S Note, an all-purpose note pad, and Paper Artist, an art app for mucking about with photos. Both are good examples of the breed.

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND
4Gb/s speeds on a consumer drive, anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.