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Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Impressive, expensive tablet
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Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Impressive, expensive tablet

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 8.24.19 PMThere’s no denying the Galaxy Note 8’s parentage. It looks like a big Galaxy S3 or S4 and it’s plastic. Despite all the whining coming from reviewers like me Samsung is sticking to plastic for its devices counting on features to offset the ho-hum design and the plastic. It seems to be working.

This is a Goldilocks tablet for me, the size is just right. Like the iPad Mini, the Note 8’s larger screen necessitates a wider body than say the Nexus 7. So, it can feel awkward at first especially if you have small hands…but the wider bezel helps by allowing you to hold it in one hand without touching the screen. It is a shade bigger than an iPad Mini and weighs a bit over an ounce more..hardly noticeable.

Unlike its bigger sibling 0.1, the Note 8 has a home button and runs the “phone” UI for Android. That means you don’t get the tablet layout with a notifications bar along the bottom. the dropdown tray stays at the top of the screen. You also get Samsung’s less than perfect TouchWiz interface but surprisingly less crapware than you find on a Samsung phone.

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Speaking of the screen The Note 8 sports an 8-inch screen with a 1,280×800-pixel-resolution screen. That’s 189 pixels-per-inch (ppi) compared with 163 on the iPad Mini, and the relative difference in clarity is immediate and dramatic, especially with fonts.They are clean and sharp especially noticeable when reading an eBook as I do often. Also impressive is the very bright and colorful Plane Line Switching (PLS) panel. Three screen presets are included: Dynamic, Standard, and Movie. Each adjusts the screen’s contrast to be more appropriate to the setting. I found the screen great for all uses from reading to watching movies.

Under the hood is the same 1.6Ghz quad-core Exynos 4410 processor and 2GB RAM combo found on the Note 2. Combined with 2Gb of RAM performance is snappy on both apps and games. Battery life is average, you can expect 8 to 10 hours on a charge depending on use.

I liked the S Pen on previous notes and I like is better on this tablet because the pen moves better on the screen with less drag so even my chicken scratching works with handwriting recognition. S Note, the app for writing and producing documents with clippings from the web, is really usable. Once you get into it, you can make notes on the fly, snapping photos of things and making notes to help you remember facts.

Just as i did when testing earlier models pf the Note, after a few days I found that I’d much rather write on a screen than attempt to type on one. A quick e-mail reply or entering a search query just feels much more natural to scribble than tap out. The recognition software while pretty good  isn’t perfect so making an attempt to write legibly is a must, but it was usually able to figure out the vast majority of my writings.Just as You can also take a screenshot of pretty much anything by holding down the button and circling whatever it is you want to capture.

I use my tablet as a second screen while watching TV so I love the Smart Remote all with the IR Blaster. I can control my home entertainment devices and use the Peel based program guide to look for programs to watch and switch channels. Impressive!

The Galaxy Note 8 is arguably the best tablet Samsung makes. The size is perfect, the screen is very good and performance is excellent. I really like the features the S Pen brings to the table but for my use I don’t think it is worth 130 bucks. At $429 ($399 in the US) that is by how much I think the Note 8 is overpriced. At $299 I would say buy it in a flash, but for $429 you better really need the S Pen features.

 

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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