The Galaxy Note 8.0 will set you back $400, and I'll admit that I had some trouble figuring out why. It certainly isn't the aesthetic appeal, as the Note 8.0's white plastic shell--standard fare for Samsung's Galaxy lineup--doesn't evoke much in the way of gadget envy. Although it's appreciably light at just shy of 12 ounces, the tablet is wholly generic, a Wi-Fi-only plastic slab with an 8-inch, 1280-by-800-resolution display that could be anything, save for the humble Samsung branding sitting on the top bezel.
What the tablet lacks in looks, however, it makes up for in other areas. The Note 8.0 centers its user experience on the S Pen stylus, once a curio, now a staple of the Galaxy Note family. Coupled with Samsung's "Premium" suite of supporting apps and a few clever tricks, the latest entry in the Galaxy Note lineup just might prove to be a compelling contender. Let's see how it stacks up against the competition.
Eye of the beholder
The plain plastic shell doesn't do much to help this model stand out from competing tablets. But that's all right; the Note 8.0 is sturdy, and while it's technically a bit heavier than Google's Nexus 7 (by about 5 grams), you'll be hard-pressed to notice much of a difference. My hands are admittedly a bit large, but the 8-inch device is no more cumbersome than the Nexus 7 or Apple's iPad Mini, and I had no trouble toting it while sitting or lounging about.
The accoutrements are fairly standard: The headphone jack sits on the top edge, and the Micro-USB port sits on the bottom. The right side offers a power button, volume control buttons, and an IR blaster for controlling your television with Samsung's WatchOn app. The left side hosts the MicroSD card slot; you can use 32GB MicroSD cards to bolster the 16GB tablet's paltry 10GB of available storage space.
Under the hood are 2GB of RAM and a quad-core 1.6GHz Exynos processor, which drive the 8-inch 1280 by 800 TFT display. While 1080p displays are all the rage on larger tablets and new smartphones, the Note 8.0's display suits its screen size rather well. The vibrant screen offers accurate color reproduction and generous viewing angles, though glare and reflections become a problem should you take the tablet outside into direct sunlight.
A pair of speakers sit on the bottom edge of the device, and although they're fairly loud and deliver decent audio quality (devoid of much in the way of bass, as expected), their position means that you need to keep an eye on your hands when holding the tablet in landscape mode, as you'll inevitably block the speakers and muffle the sound.
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