Galaxy Note 8.0: Still the best small tablet

Galaxy Note 8.0: Still the best small tablet

Summary: Google recently launched the new Nexus 7 into the small tablet space. While a nice tablet at a decent price, the Nexus 7 is not in the same league as the Galaxy Note 8.0.

Note 8.0
Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

When the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 arrived a couple of months ago the value over the iPad mini was readily apparent. In addition to rivaling the size of the super-thin little iPad, the Note 8.0 has two features the former lacks. After two months of heavy use of the Galaxy Note 8.0, the value of the tablet is still very good.

Google recently launched the new Nexus 7, a nice tablet at a decent price. The refreshed model has good hardware running the newest version of the Android OS. While the new Nexus 7 is a solid entry into the tablet space, it doesn't have anything to knock the Note 8.0 off its high pedestal.

Hardware specs:

  • Processor: Samsung Exynos 4412, 1.6GHz quad-core
  • Display: 8-inch, 1280x800, 189 ppi, touch + pen digitizer
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Storage: 16GB, microSD up to 64GB
  • Cameras: Front- 1.3MP, Back- 5MP
  • OS: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • Battery: 4,600 mAh
  • Connectivity: wi-fi a/b/g/n, 2.4 and 5 GHz
  • Dimensions: 210.8x135.9x7.95 mm, 8.29x5.35x0.31 inches; 340g, 0.74lb

While the hardware inside the Note 8.0 isn't as fast as that in the Nexus 7, pefrormance of the former is very snappy. The processor in the Note is more than enough to handle anything you need to do on the tablet. Scrolling is smooth, video plays well, and it handles multitasking with ease.

Multiview on Note 8.0 -- Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Google launched Android 4.3 with the Nexus 7, an advantage over the Note 8.0. Even so, Android 4.1 which is used on the Note 8.0 has been modified by Samsung to provide unique functionality. The multiview feature that allows running two apps side-by-side on the display (see image above), is a powerful feature. It makes it possible to keep an eye on a running app on the left while working in another app displaying on the right pane.

Smart stay is another feature that uses the front camera to check if the user is looking at the screen. As long as it "sees" the user looking it prevents the display from dimming and shutting off. This feature is available on certain Samsung smartphones, too and is one of the best utilities on mobile devices.

The Note 8.0 has something not found on other small tablets, the S Pen. Taking handwritten notes on the fly is a great feature. Samsung has included special apps to leverage using the pen. These include a note app and a planner app that make using the pen a nice benefit over the competition.

The pen can be used to write in any app due to special support by Samsung. Anywhere you can use the onscreen keyboard in Android you can use the pen to write text instead.

Next page: Great apps on the Galaxy Note 8.0

Topics: Mobility, Android, Reviews, Samsung, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I hope Samsung paid you well for this advertisement

    Because by the end you admit you haven't even touched the Nexus yet somehow know the Galaxy Note is better?
    Doug Jaquays
    • For the reasons stated

      The Nexus 7 has no pen and the Note 8.0. For that reason alone I stand by my statement.
      • Note 8.0 what?

        Its hard to stand by your statement when you don't make one!
        Stuart Becktell
        • Best. Small. Tablet.

          That is definitely a statement.
          • Not based on your comment

            "The Nexus 7 has no pen and the Note 8.0. For that reason alone I stand by my statement." What are you trying to say here?
            Stuart Becktell
          • He's trying to say that he likes the pen.

            You may not want it, but he certainly does.

            He's probably someone who spends time taking notes.

            As such, a pen works better for him than it does others.

            Think of it like choosing between a pickup truck and an SUV.

            The SUV looks nicer, takes up less room, and is more fuel efficient.

            However, the truck has the cargo bay and a higher lifting capacity.

            The average office worker may drive an SUV, but the will farmer prefer his truck.

            In terms of its feature set, the Note is more fitted towards the author.
          • Stuart

            How hard is that to understand?
          • I think Stuart is trying to say that..

   appear to have an incomplete sentence.

            "The Nexus 7 has no pen and the Note 8.0...
            a). has one.
            b). works for me.
            c). can run two apps side by side
            d). all of the above

            Anyway, I defend your choice. My wife is looking to upgrade her iPad and the Note 2 looks to be a good choice for her. I, on the other hand, will upgrade to the new N7 and hand down my current N7 to my son.

            It's all good.
          • where is the

            pen now, i am more confused 6 7 8 9 penelope
          • i'll take box 7 please Penelope

            Galaxy Note 7 with 4G (all phone functions) , full HD, and removable battery. Samsung, you can charge me $500 and I'll pay! ok ok, 600 if you must!
          • what?

            upgrade from an iPad to a Note? Surely you mean downgrade?
      • Misleading, the Gnote 8 is a niche device.

        So basically James what you're saying is that any tablet without a digitizer and pen is worse than one with them. So with that logic you rate the Galaxy Note 8.0 better than both the iPad, iPad Mini and every Android tablet regardless of manufacturer, even the Nexus 10...all because they don't come with a digitizer and pen.

        That's pretty silly if you ask me. Having a tablet with a digitizer and pen is a specialty use that most users don't need and don't want. It's nice if you plan on taking frequent notes on your device or have specialized artistic or design needs but the vast majority of tablet users use their devices for web surfing, games, reading and light email.

        By your logic the Galaxy Note II is a better phone than all other phones, even the HTC One, the Galaxy S4, the iPhone5, etc etc...simply because they don't have digitizers and pens either.

        This article is link bait. Surely you can't be that unaware of the market's different types of consumers and the tablet world's different target audiences.

        As a general use tablet, the Nexus 7 offers a superior experience for web browsing, game playing, ereading and movie watching due to the vastly higher resolution display and faster processor, not to mention stereo surround sound. It also is dramatically less expensive.

        As a specialty note-taking device the GNote 8 is superior...but that is a very niche audience.
        • Note 8 v Nexus 7

          I buy a tablet for funtionality not for a pretty picture. Note 8 kills on functionality
          • Narcissist much?

            Notice how self-absorbed you are that you missed the entire point of my post. You start off your response by saying 'I buy a tablet for...'. YOU are not everybody and I know this might come as a total shock to you, but OTHER tablet owners might value the Nexus 7's superior hardware specs as superior functionality.

            Next time why don't you try and get out of yourself for a moment and recognize that others value different things in a tablet than you do. Enjoy your low resolution screen, slower processor and lack of stereo surround sound. Sounds like poor functionality to me compared to the Nexus 7. :-)
          • Narcissist?

            I buy a tablet for me, I buy what I want.
            I buy for a gift, I buy what they want, I hope.
            How is getting the features one wants narcissistic?
        • Yes, the note series is in a league of their own

          The Note 2 is indeed better than HTC One and all the other phones you mentioned, even the S4. It has a bigger screen and a pen to use that bigger screen which is the KILLER feature the others cannot make up for.
      • Waste of pages

        You used three pages to praise Note 8 and the actual reason that it is better than Nexus 7 is only "Nexus 7 has no pen"? iPad Mini doesn't have pen too so I believe your reason that Note 8 is better will be just similar (no matter how iPad Mini performs). Then why don't you just mention this one reason ("no pen") and save our time from reading other craps?
        • After you have decided that "no pen" is enough for your decision,

          do you really care those other reasons that you have written in the article (to prove that Note 8 is better)? It seems that you have already made your decision based on "pen", all other "reasons" are stated to just make your decision looks better. You actually didn't compare how those apps that you stated in page 2 looks like in other devices, right?
        • way more then a pen difference, I have both

          It is easy to jump on devices you don't fully understand. The Wacom /S Pen is only one feature comparing the N7 and the Note 8. I have both. I like the N7 for the car, it is bigger then my Note 1 Phone and easier to do browsing. But the wider screen used by the Note 8 is much easier for retired people to see. The SD card is a must since we cant get cable access and rely on LTE. Plus we can pull the SD card from a camera or MP3 or other devices and interchange them simply. Hold the S Pen over links gives mouse over effect. Hold the S/Pen over your movie collection and it starts your movie and shows it in motion. You can split the screen with several apps and see two at a time, plus a click at the bottom of the screen brings up over 15 app tools and they play right over the 2 screens you have running. Like calulators calenders and so on. You can have two screens active at the same time and a resize video runnings on the screens in any are you like. Tons more features but it is a lot more then an artist quality S Pen with 1024 levels of pressure for painting. Business people can sign and send notes an annotate pdfs and on and on. BTW, I like my Nexus 7 for certain taskscand the note for more serious projects. Love that 64gb M SD card in the note. Plus with my special OTG for my Note, I can use my 2gb SSD portable and a 64gb thumb drive and a sull sized SD all at the same time. I can't afford a cloud at $10 per gb access. Cheers
          • better the ipad

            i have the galaxy note 2,8 and the 10. after i seen what you could do with the galaxy notes i was hook on them. Gave my nexus 7 away let the kids have the ipad and havnt look back. i bought my wife a note 8.