Performance Analysis: From a pure performance standpoint, it's really hard to knock the Galaxy Note 8.0. With its 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos SoC paired to 2GB of RAM, Samsung has created a top performer on the benchmark track. It blew away the single- and dual-core rivals from six to twelve months back, and easily notched a sub-1,000ms SunSpider score in Chrome. It's a very zippy tablet, and everything from flipping between apps to surfing the Internet felt incredibly fluid. We're glad Samsung packed the powerful SoC into the Note 8, as the TouchWiz features and S Pen interactions do indeed demand more giddyup to run smoothly.
The Note 8.0 is an interesting tablet, that much is certain. It's one of the more powerful solutions on the market, and one of the only "tweener" options for those who aren't satisfied with other 7- and 10-inch form factor alternatives that abound. It's also equipped with a stylus (S Pen), which allows it to be far more functional that your average tablet. If you're looking to take lots and lots of notes (or annotate / doodle on a regular basis), that inclusion will add a lot of value. But in practice, the 8-inch form factor doesn't always strike us as a positive. It's too large to use with a single hand, for most of us, and it's not beneficially smaller than a 10-inch slate. Moreover, Samsung's choice to use a 1280 x 800 resolution display rather than a 1080p panel hurts the overall appeal. For a $400 device, we were hoping for higher pixel density but that's the geek in us bleeding through.
The plastics used on the exterior also leave something to be desired. Due to the fact that this device is marketed as a premium product, its plastic exterior isn’t quite as enticing as some competing products. The high-gloss finish can also feel slippery in the hand, which can make it somewhat of a challenge to grip for prolonged periods. Samsung's unique software suite and TouchWiz features are supposedly the highlights, but we found them to be a little clunky at times, though Samsung does incorporate a number of interesting capabilities with TouchWiz, not found elsewhere. The WatchON app, which is designed to act as a sophisticated remote control for your TV setup, is hampered because it cannot determine which channels you're subscribed to. It does, however, setup listings based on your provider and zip code. While the concept is sound, it still could use some polish. This of course can be remedied with a software update.
The reality is that it is somewhat difficult to justify the Note 8's $400 asking price. When you have the excellent Nexus 7
available for under $200, spending double for a tablet that may or may not receive the latest Android updates is a dubious proposition, though in all fairness, the Note 8 has many more features than the Nexus 7. To justify the cost, you would need to regularly take advantage of the Note 8 as a productivity device, and leverage the S Pen and other TouchWiz features unique to Samsung at this time. While the Note 8.0 screams in the benchmarks, it doesn't feel all that much quicker than the Nexus 7 in everyday tasks, so you're left with additional screen area (not resolution) and its stylus as key differentiators beyond benchmark numbers. With that said, the Galaxy Note 8 is a really nice tablet but cost pressure from the street is working against it currently.
- Blazing fast in benchmarks
- S Pen and display are very responsive
- Great for note taking / annotation
- Can be tough to use one-handed
- Plastics are underwhelming
- WatchON app incomplete