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Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Editor's rating 3.75 (scale of 1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: WiFi only and AT&T models available
Manufacturer: Samsung
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What's Hot: S Pen, multi-tasking and pen software, IR AV remote, fast CPU, great size for note taking and sketching.

What's Not: Expensive, the usual Samsung plastic construction, average display resolution.


Reviewed April 22, 2013 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Updated June 2013: AT&T now offers a 4G LTE version of the Note 8.0

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is for you folks who prefer a steno pad to a legal pad. It's the more portable partner to the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and they have much in common, including the S Pen digital pen with Wacom technology, Samsung's TouchWiz UI and custom software for inking and multitasking. While the 10" Note tablet is priced the same as the competing iPad model, the Galaxy Note 8.0 is actually more expensive than the competing iPad mini ($399 vs. $329). Don't get me wrong: it's not that I think the iPad is the apex of value, but rather Apple's pricey tablets have so far set the high mark for how much a company can charge for a tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

In the US, the Note 8.0 is available in WiFi-only and AT&T 4G LTE versions, and it has dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with GLONASS and a consumer IR remote to control your AV home theatre gear. Samsung states that the tablet will be available in 16 and 32 gig capacities, and we expect the 32 gig model to sell for $499 (though we've yet to see it hit the market). It has an SDXC microSD card slot for storage expansion.

Design and Ergonomics

Since it's a Samsung, the Galaxy Note 8.0 is clad in glossy plastic. The white tablet looks much like our white Samsung Galaxy Note II smartphone and the Note 10.1 tablet, and it's every bit as slippery. It's not a bad looking tablet though, despite the lack of premium design elements like metal. The bezel is relatively wide, and those with large hands might prefer it since it provides more than adequate grip points. It also means the tablet is relatively wide when held in portrait mode, but at 12 ounces it's easy enough to balance in one hand even if you can't easily wrap your fingers around it. In late June 2013, Samsung added a brown version of the Note 8.0.

The tablet is rigid with no flex, and the back will only defect a little bit if you press down hard on it (yes it's plastic, so it will give a bit). The S Pen lives in a silo at the bottom left corner (when held in portrait orientation), and it's a decent size given that there isn't much room in an 8" tablet for a silo. The pen is shorter and thinner than most tablet PC pens and those included with Wacom Intuos and Bamboo tablets, but should you wish to use a larger Wacom pen, Wacom pen-enabled pens like those sold for tablet PCs with digital pens will work.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The volume controls and the power button are on the right side (again, when held in portrait orientation) and the micro USB sync/charge port is at the bottom. Samsung's oft-used 30 pin proprietary connector is gone, and the tablet uses a standard 5v 2amp charger just like the iPad mini and ThinkPad Tablet 2. The battery is sealed inside and the headphone jack is up top. The front camera lens is offset to the right side, while the rear lens (which protrudes a bit) is centered on the upper rear.

The micro USB port supports USB host, and you won't have to hunt for a proprietary Samsung adapter as with older Samsung tablets. A micro USB OTG adapter will do the job if you wish to access USB devices like flash drives and keyboards.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and the Galaxy Note II smartphone.


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Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 vs. Nexus 7 (2013 model) Comparison

Display and S Pen

The Note 8.0 has a 1280 x 800 display (likely PLS, it is not Super AMOLED like Samsung phones), and though some have bemoaned the low resolution, it's a decent resolution for an 8" panel. It doesn't look grainy or fuzzy in the least, and I suspect the resolution is limited by the current constraints of Wacom technology. The S Pen works very well for drawing and note taking with good tracking and smooth lines--it's a joy to use compared to a capacitive stylus and it allows for palm rejection, so you can rest your hand on the screen while writing and drawing.

Wacom digitizers support hovering (the pointer appears on the screen even if the pen is a few millimeters above the glass), and Samsung uses this to add features like pen gesture navigation through photos and videos in the Gallery application. Is this a gimmick or a feature? You decide. We do like that the Note 8.0 knows when you've removed the pen from its silo and it can automatically open a palette of pen-centric apps when the pen is pulled from the silo. Samsung's custom pen apps are on board, just as with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone and Note 10.1 tablet: S Note, a new Awesome Note HD app, a handwriting input panel option (you can use this instead of the on-screen keyboard), split window mode so you can take notes while viewing a web page, email or Office document and more. Not all apps are supported, but core apps like the web browser, gmail, S Note and the Polaris Office suite work with this feature.

Android supports pen input most anywhere, so you can use it in place of your finger to navigate the device and other apps like Adobe Reader support the pen for highlighting and signing documents. Art apps like Sketchbook Pro and Layer Paint work with pressure sensitivity (though some brushes seem to be pressure sensitive while others don't in Sketchbook Pro) and the many note-taking apps available on Google Play like Lecture Notes work well. In fact, since Samsung's Android pen-based tablets are the biggest mainstream sellers on the market, most pen-aware apps on the Android market do support the Note 8.0 along with the Galaxy Note 10.1 and Samsung Galaxy Note phones.

As with other Samsung devices, you can choose from a few color modes (dynamic, standard and movie) for different levels of color saturation, and there's a new Reading mode that's a little easier on the eyes when reading ebooks. As with the Note II smartphone, the tablet features Smart Stay, which uses the front camera to see if you're looking at the display and thus won't turn it off when you're reading. I love this feature and wish every tablet and phone had it! Viewing angles are excellent and are on par with IPS displays: even off angle colors are strong as is contrast. As we've noted with other Galaxy devices, the ambient light sensor delivers less than optimal brightness that sets the display too dim for our liking, so we opted for manual brightness instead.

Horsepower and Performance

The Galaxy Note 8.0 is a very fast tablet; in fact it's faster than the larger Galaxy Note 10.1. It runs on a quad core Samsung Exynos 4412 CPU with Mali 400 graphics and 2 gigs of RAM. The tablet scored an impressive 7054 on Quadrant, 16,214 on the Antutu benchmark and 2133 in Geekbench 2. For the money, you're getting one of the fastest Android tablets currently on the market and the fastest tablet measuring 8" or smaller. It feels responsive and fluid with no lag; you're getting your money's worth here. That said, hardcore gamers who love Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU and GPU optimized games can't count on them here since this is an Exynos CPU. It's not that the Exynos can't handle extremely demanding loads (it can) bur rather some games offer additional visual effects for the Tegra 3.


  Quadrant GLBenchmark 2.1Egypt Offscreen AnTuTu Sunspider JavaScript Test
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7054 18 fps (GLBech 2.7, harder test) 16,214 1024
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 5349 101 fps 12,777 1206
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 2810 N/A 7757 1338 (Silk)
Nexus 7 3638 64 fps 10,456 1720
Google Nexus 10 4959 89 fps 13,658 1308
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 3545 49 fps 7050 2003
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 2705 28 fps 4841 2288

Geekbench 2: 2127

AV Remote and WatchOn

We were both pleased and disappointed with Samsung's new WatchOn app that handles basic home theatre control via the IR port to replace your many remotes and acts as a TV programming guide. In the past, Samsung included Peel, and this is the first time we've seen WatchOn in addition to Peel included with a Samsung tablet. It did a good job as a programming guide, but it offered only a subset of the cable providers in our area, and we live in a large metropolitan area (subsequent updates added Time Warrner, our cable provider). WatchOn is easy to set up and it walks you through the steps of choosing your cable provider and setting up your TV and cable box. Peel offers strong programming discovery tools and it allows you to control additional home theatre gear like your AV receiver and Blu-ray.

Battery Life

7 and 8 inch tablets often have good battery life given their relatively smaller displays compared to their 10" counterparts, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 delivers unimpressive runtimes with WiFi on and brightness set to 50%. We got just 5.5 hours of continuous video playback from the 4600 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. That's 3 hours short of the average for tablets in this size range and significantly shorter than our WiFi iPad mini and Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 that ran for over 10 hours in the same test. The Exynos is fast, but power frugal it's not.


The tablet has a decent 1.3 megapixel front camera that's good enough for video chat and a distinctly average 5 megapixel rear camera. For the price, we expect a better rear camera with features like HDR, 1080p video recording and perhaps an LED flash. The camera app does offer a healthy dose of settings including many scene modes, 2 focus modes (auto and macro), GPS tagging, panorama, Samsung Buddy Share, metering (matrix, center and spot) and exposure control. The camera's maximum video recording resolution is 1280 x 720 (720p).


Much as you might guess, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 offers a more portable and compact experience compared to the company's 10" Galaxy Note 10.1. Which one should you choose? That's a matter of your size preference: if you loved the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 but felt it was too large, this is your tablet. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is also faster, though both tablets have more than enough speed for most users, and it uses a standard micro USB port for charging, syncing and USB host for greater convenience. If you're trying to decide between the iPad mini and the surprisingly more expensive Note 8.0, the decision comes down to the S Pen and Android vs. iOS. If you're a serious note taker or an artist, the choice is obvious.

Price: $399 for 16 gig WiFi model



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Display: 8" capacitive touch screen. Resolution: 1280 x 800. Wacom digitizer with S Pen. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor.

Battery: 4600 mAh Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 1.6GHz Samsung Exynos 4412 quad core CPU. 2 gigs RAM. 16 or 32 gigs internal storage.

Size: 8.3 x 5.35 x 0.31 inches. Weight: 11.68 ounces.

GPS: Has GPS with GLONASS. Google Maps and Navigation.

Camera: 1.3MP front camera and rear 5MP camera that can shoot 720p video.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and consumer IR remote for AV control.

Software: Android OS 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung TouchWiz UI. Standard suite of Google Android applications including web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Gtalk, Search and the Google Play Store.

Expansion: 1 SDXC microSD card slot.


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