[MWC 2013] After nearly one month of leaks and rumors, Samsung made the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet official at Mobile World Congress and I had the opportunity to briefly try a global pre-production unit at the show. Basically it looks like a large Galaxy Note 2 and the key features are pretty similar with a few enhancements here and there. At the briefing, Samsung confirmed that it sports the same 1.6 Ghz Exynos Quad-Core cortex A9 than its smaller sibling. Additional similar features include 2GB RAM, a 1280×800 resolution (1280×720 in the Note 2), Android 4.1.2, and the S-Pen supports with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
On the differences: the Note 8.0 features a 4,600 mAh battery, which is bigger than the Galaxy Note 2′s, to compensate for the extra power usage from the bigger display. In comparison, the Nexus 7 which is in a similar tablet size category, features a 4,325 mAh battery. We don’t expect a higher-than-normal battery life, but we will know for sure when we’ll work on our complete review.
Since most tablets are used in a living-room environment, the manufacturer has added an IR Universal remote feature to provide a “second screen” experience. Exclusive to the Note 8.0, a second note taking application, Awesome Note is there to offer similar capabilities as Evernote. Unlike the Note 2, the 8-inch tablet does not support NFC.
Outside of the USA, the Galaxy Note 8.0 will also be a phone.
In terms of product design, the Galaxy Note 8.0 looks like a large Galaxy Note 2 but thinner (7.95 mm vs 9,4 mm), and it will only be available in white. On the right side you will find the power button, the volume control, and the IR emitter at the top. The S-Pen is located at the bottom of the right edge. The micro-SD is located at the top on the left side while the micro-SIM tray is placed at the bottom. The micro-USB port is placed at the center of the bottom side and the two speakers are located on both sides of the connector. At the top you will find the 3.5 mm audio jack port, slightly off the center on the right. The 5 MP camera lense is located at the top of the backside, above the Samsung logo, its design is consistent with the Galaxy line of product. The 1.3 MP camera is placed at the top of the display on the front at the right side of the phone speaker, just like on the Note 2. Below the display, the physical home button is in the middle with the back key and the menu capacitive buttons on either side. The Galaxy Note 8.0 is comfortable to operate with one hand, the form factor is ideal for reading books or watching videos.
The LCD display has nothing really noticeable, it features almost the same resolution as the Note 2 for a larger size. The consequence is a lower pixel density of 189 ppi. Surprisingly, Samsung went against the current high pixel density trend started by the HTC Droid DNA, the Huawei Ascend D2, the Sony Xperia Z, the ZTE Grand S and followed at MWC by the LG Optimus G Pro.
We suspect that the S-pen is a costly feature, and the display being one of the most pricey component, Samsung might save money with a lower resolution that is still good enough for consuming content.
Other than that the colors are bright and the contrast are deep, the display delivered very good results when I watched a 1280×720 video.
Overall the system interface is very responsive and fluid, pretty mich like in my Galaxy Note 2.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 comes with Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 and there will be a 4.2 update later on.
On the custom software side, Samsung is pushing very hard its multitasking feature again with the Galaxy Note 8.0, as it is a real differentiator from competitive Android tablets. LG has a multi tasking feature called Q-slide, however it does not work exactly the same way. To date, there are 20 apps available in the multitasking tray on the device, and Samsung expect to offer more in the future as developers will use its multitasking API to make their apps compatible with the feature. From the multitasking tray accessible on the left side f the display, you can drag and drop two applications of your choice and they will be both displayed on the screen (watch the video demo).
Airview is one of the feature available with the S-Pen that allows to access pop up windows with additional contextual information by hovering over a photo gallery, a video or an email (watch the video demo).
Samsung integrated an IR emitter in the Galaxy Note 8.0 to offer a universal remote feature. With the Samsung Smart Remote application, it will be easy to set up the remote with any brand TVs, set-top box or home entertainment devices from the tablet. Additionally, the application provides a live TV guide and allows to search TV shows and movies by genre across the channels (the feature could not be shown in the video demo).
The Samsung Readers Hub benefits from SmartStay, a feature first launched with the Samsung Galaxy S3, which prevents the display from going dim as long as you are keeping your eyes on the tablet.
Entertainment (video playback -video)
The 8-inch display provides a good video experience and the sound quality is very good.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 is not really a surprise, since we have already experienced the features it offers with the Galaxy Note 2. Except for the IR emitter with the Smart Remote application, the 8-nch display and the absence of NFC, the device is pretty much a larger version of the Galaxy Note 2.
Overall, the performance is good and the 8-inch display is more adapted for multitasking usage. The artists who love using with the S-Pen will probably find this form factor more enjoyable for painting and drawing.
Samsung did not share any information regarding the price, we hope that it will be in a similar range as the iPad Mini. Without the price, it is difficult to judge the value of this product.