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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review

First Look
Published 
25 Feb 2013
Samsung Galaxy Note 8

It's a compact tablet with 3G and a stylus, and it's great

Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy Note 8 at MWC in Barcelona, and we've gone hands-on with the new stylus-equipped tablet.

It follows Samsung's design language to a tee, being all white plastic with silver flourishes. The tablet looks like a big Samsung Galaxy S3,and feels similar, too. There's a lot of gloss plastic involved, but it doesn't feel cheap; the plastic is slightly soft-touch, which makes the tablet more pleasant to handle.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The Galaxy Note 8 has a quad-core 1.6GHz processor, and it feels very fast indeed. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is normally pretty smooth, but seeing it on the Note 8 is to see slickness defined. We also had no complaints about the 1,280x800-pixel screen, which is plenty of resolution for desktop browsing. The tablet completed the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark in 1,018ms, which is up there with the top tier of Android devices.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

That's a lot of white plastic, but it's decent soft-touch stuff

It's a pretty impressive tablet, then, but the Galaxy Note 8 is really all about the stylus. This slots into the side of the chassis, and the tablet detects when you're using it. This means that when you tap on a text field, the handwriting-recognition box appears; write in this and your scribble will be converted to text.

We found the screen responsive enough and the tablet's operating system fast enough that it could keep up with natural writing, and the recognition was spot on – it made entering web addresses and search terms simple and fast. The pen is also pressure-sensitive, which is particularly useful if you're feeling artistic, as you get to control the amount of paint or ink flowing from virtual brushes and pens.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

It's a modern take on an old-school tablet concept, but the stylus works very well indeed

The Note 8 comes with a number of apps with multiscreen support, so you can run two apps side by side, such as a web browser and Google Maps, or your calendar and a note-taking app. To put an app into multiscreen mode, you tap a small tab on the left of the screen, and drag the new app where you want on the screen; you can set an app to take up half or even a quarter of the desktop. Easy multitasking is one of the areas where tablets have fallen down compared to laptops, and multiscreen certainly helps you be more productive.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Two apps side by side for double the productivity

In Europe the Note 8 will have a 3G option, which will turn it into a seriously versatile tablet. We like its speed, and the stylus and multiscreen support makes the tablet much more useful than a standard Android model. However, whether the Note 8's advantages make it worth buying over a normal tablet is really down to how much of a premium Samsung charges; pricing information is yet to be announced.

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