Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and Galaxy Tab 3 8.0

Hands-on with the AT&T Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 (Gallery)


Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 on AT&T

My first Android tablet was an original Samsung Tab 7 inch device that served me well, but was a bit chunky by today's standards. I had the chance to test out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and AT&T Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 for the past week and enjoyed both devices.
Regular readers know I am more focused on smartphones for working and playing on the go, but still have a couple tablets around. My preferred Android tablet is the Nexus 7, but I have to say that these two new Samsung 8 inch models almost had me clicking the buy button on Amazon. They are vastly improved over the original Tab 7 I owned a few years ago, but as a previous Galaxy Note II owner they appear to just be large devices with very similar hardware design elements.

Samsung Note 8.0 on AT&T

My local AT&T rep sent along the Galaxy Note 8.0 and as a very data-centric user this device is appealing to me. My Note II was a good test to see if I would use the S Pen enough to justify the cost and screen size. When I look back on my usage patterns, I rarely found it necessary to use the S Pen. However, part of that was the fact that I could only fit a few words on the display, even at 5.5 inches. The Galaxy Note 8.0 solves that issue with a much more ink-friendly sized display.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 doesn't support phone calls, but the data connection works on LTE and HSPA+ for a very fast experience when you are outside the range of a WiFi network. With AT&T, it only costs an additional $10 per month to add the Galaxy Note 8.0 to your current plan. You can also purchase a WiFi-only Galaxy Note 8.0, reviewed here on ZDNet.
Specifications of the AT&T version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 include:
  • 1.6 GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB internal storage with microSD card slot
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS
  • 8 inch 1280x800 pixels display
  • 5 megapixel rear camera and 1.3 megapixel front facing camera
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, DLNA
  • 4,600 mAh battery
  • Dimensions of: 8.29 x 5.35 x 0.31 inches and 12 ounces
New devices are launching with Android 4.2, but the Note 8.0 has been out in other parts of the world for a couple months so that helps explain why it was released with this version. There are a few nice updates in 4.2 so I hope Samsung updates the device soon.
The Note 8.0 has a center physical button with the menu and back capacitive areas on either side. The microSD and SIM card are on the left side, under covers, with the power and volume buttons located above the IR port on the right side. I have grown to be a huge fan of the IR port on my HTC One to control my TVs and appreciate having one on the Note 8.0 as well. The headset jack is on top with the microUSB port on the bottom. The 5 megapixel camera is centered on the upper back and takes decent photos.
The Note 8.0 is a bit wide for me to use for extended periods in one hand since they made a bezel that would allow you to hold it around an edge and then use the S Pen on the display. There is a S Pen silo on the lower right side and I found the design of the S Pen to be just fine for daily usage.
A few of the advanced functions seen on the Galaxy S4 are here on the Note 8.0, including multi-window and reading mode. I valued using multi-window on my Note II and it is even better on a larger display like we see in the Note 8.0. There is not a ton of extra AT&T or Samsung apps so the Android experience is pretty clean. I find value in these newer versions of TouchWiz as well.
Overall, I enjoyed using the Note 8.0 and saw I could pick up a WiFi-only refurb for $320, which really interests me. The full price of the WiFi model is $380, but if you buy at Samsung they are also offering you $25 in Google Play credit. The AT&T model is priced at $399.99 after a $100 savings with your contract. If I used the S Pen more on my Note II then I would buy one, but I don't think I can justify that advanced functionality. You can buy a Note 8.0 in white or brown/black and as a fan of brown I would likely get that color. I personally found the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 to be more interesting for my needs as you can read below.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0

When I pulled the Tab 3 8.0 from the box, my first impression was that this was an awesome improvement over the Tab 7 inch I used to own. The width is perfect for my hand and it still amazes me how thin the device really is.
Specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 include:
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core Samsung processor
  • 1.5GB of RAM
  • 16GB internal storage with microSD card slot
  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS
  • 8 inch 1280x800 pixels display
  • 5 megapixel rear camera and 1.3 megapixel front facing camera
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, DLNA
  • 4,450 mAh battery
  • Dimensions of: 8.26 x 4.87 x 0.275 inches and 10.9 ounces
As you can see in the specs comparison, the Tab 3 is narrower, slightly thinner, and lighter than the Note 8.0. The Tab has a dual-core processor, compared to quad-core, slightly less RAM, and slightly smaller battery. However, it has the latest and greatest version of Android, the same camera, same storage capacity, and same display resolution.
The Galaxy Tab 3.0 has nearly the same design elements as the Note 8.0, with the exception of the SIM card slot on the AT&T model I was testing out and the S Pen silo. The back camera is offset on the Tab 3 8.0, but has the same quality and performance. I personally don't care about the back camera on a tablet anyway, but the front camera is useful for video calling.
In terms of software, the latest version of Android and TouchWiz add in Smart Stay, screen mirroring, and a slightly updated settings layout. A major improvement is the use of the slick new Samsung camera utility. There are other improvements in 4.2.2 as well and I just hope Samsung upgrades the Note 8.0 soon.
The Galaxy Tab 3.0 is available for $300, which is just $55 less than the Note 8.0 WiFi when you account for the $25 Google Play Store credit. This makes the Note 8.0 a bit more compelling to me with the better specs and more functional tablet with the S Pen capability. If I used a tablet more, these are two I would seriously consider. They are not the least expensive tablets, but I think there is good value here.

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