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

Boost IT visibility and business value

Scribbles for shortcuts: What works, and what doesn't

The stylus can also be used to get stuff done using shortcut scribbles. If you draw an @ with the stylus you open a new email. Draw an ! and Google Maps opens. You can add keywords too, so @ followed by the recipient’s first name opens a new mail to that person, while ! followed by "Salford" will open a map of my ‘hood.

The problem here is that you have to hold the S-Pen’s button down and swipe up on the screen to open the Quick Command window before you start your scribble and then remember to stop pressing the button before you write your command. I found that all a bit of a faff - is writing the letter "C" in Quick Command faster than simply tapping the Chrome icon? Trick question - it’s not.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Screenshots

Quick Command (left) is a bit of a faff, but the pop-out video player (right) is a genuinely useful

The usual TouchWiz and S-Pen caveats also still apply. The @ gesture only opens the stock email client, the internet search gesture can’t be set to open Chrome rather than the stock browser, and the S-Pen’s Air View trick only works with Samsung-approved apps. The same is true for apps that can take advantage of the multi-window system.

I could go on and on - and on and on - about all the extras that Samsung adds to Android. I touched on many in my review of the Galaxy S4 and I suspect the features unique to the S4 will roll onto the Note 8 when it gets the upgrade to Android Jelly Bean 4.2. Being a purist, I struggle see the use for many of these features, but they do ladle on what the marketing gimps call “surprise and delight”. Maybe, like carrying a rubber johnny or a pair of sunglasses, it’s better to have them yet not need them than the other way around.

A more obviously useful exclusive feature of the Note 8 is the diary utility Awesome Note. Well, it's exclusive to the Note 8 as far as other Android devices are concerned; the software has been knocking around on iPhones and iPads for a while. I’d not used it before but now I can see why Apple slab fondlers like it: it’s easy to use, very comprehensive and easy on the eye.

AnTuTu Benchmark Results

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 AnTuTu

Longer bars are better

As a media player, the Note 8 does an unquestionably fine job. The stereo speakers are much louder and more competent components - there’s a truly impressively amount of bass on offer - than those fitted to either the iPad Mini or the Nexus 7, while both cameras (5Mp at the back, 1.3Mp at the front) perform well by tablet standards even if the main snapper produces rather cold-looking results.

Samsung’s bespoke music and video players also deserve a mention in dispatches. They are not as good as their excellent Sony Xperia equivalents but they are still a great leap forward over the stock software. I particularly like the in-app rotation lock and pop-out player in the video app.

To give you somewhere to stash all your media files, the Note 8 packs 16GB of storage but since ThouchWiz takes an almighty bite out of that it’s just as well that there is also a Micro SD card slot good for cards of up to 64GB.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Control your telly with the Note 8’s IR blaster

For connectivity you get dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a micro USB port that supports MHL and On-the-Go hosting. There’s no NFC, but that’s no loss. Arguably of more use is the infra-red transmitter, which lets you use the Note 8 to control your telly. The Peel remote control app comes pre-loaded to take full advantage of the IR blaster.

Thanks to a beefy 4600mAh battery, the 8’s operation life isn’t half bad. Looping a 720p video with the Wi-Fi on and the screen brightness set to Auto, the Note 8 soldiered on to the eight-hour, ten-minute mark before hoisting the white flag. In everyday use you shouldn’t really need to charge it more than once every three or four days.

Incidentally, there is a 3G version of the Note 8, complete with an ear speaker and phone dialer making it a direct competitor to the Asus FonePad. Well, as direct a competitor as something costing around £250 more and being too wide to comfortably hold against your head can be.

The Reg Verdict

In essence, the Note 8 is a Note 2 that’s been handed a jar of steroids before being sent out onto the mean streets of Tabletville to beat the tar out of the iPad Mini, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7. Technically, that’s a job it does very well. The only slight fly in the ointment being that the iPad is cheaper, smaller and lighter, though of course it lacks the 8’s GPS radio, S-Pen and storage expansion slot. The first and last are the killers.

The Fire HD 8.9 also lacks many of the Note 8’s key and subsidiary features but at £230 is cheaper still and has a larger, 1920 x 1200, screen. The 16GB Nexus 7 is less than half the price. If the Note 8 included 3G in the £340 asking price - surely not an impossibility if Asus can offer the 3G FonePad for £180 - or was £50 cheaper, it would be an easy recommendation over all the competition, Android and iOS alike, but as it stands the price is perhaps a wee bit high. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Proof the pen is mightier?

Samsung’s 8-inch tablet is beefy enough to beat off the likes of Apple’s iPad Mini and Google’s Nexus 7, but its muscle comes at a hefty cost.
Price: £339 RRP

More from The Register

next story
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.