JAKARTA, Indonesia - I got some hands on time with Samsung's newly released 8-inch tablet the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Wednesday, February 27 (for my hands on video skip to the bottom of this page).
The device was unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last Monday, February 25 and is on display at the 2013 Samsung Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia. I'm one of several journalists from all over Asia and Oceania who were flown in to attend the event - Samsung's way of showing off the technology it has in store for consumers this 2013 and beyond.
Not to be confused with Samsung's line of Galaxy smartphones, the Note line of devices all come with an S-Pen, a stylus specially made to work with the device which allows you to take notes and draw images (iPad users get the same functionality if they buy a 3rd party stylus). In the Note line there is the Note 10.1 tablet which was released at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas back in 2012, and the Note 2, a 5.5-inch smartphone - which most people lovingly refer to as a phablet (a phone and a tablet).
Just like the iPad mini is to the iPad, the Note 8 hits the sweet spot in terms of size. It is the perfect size for a tablet. It doesn't feel too heavy and can be held with one hand for a reasonable amount of time without much strain.
The UI is very similar if not identical to the one on the Note 2. Samsung's customization of Android 4.1.2 Jellybean is very well done. I prefer it to their older line of tablets the Galaxy Tabs - which I am not a big fan of.
Specs-wise the device comes with a 1.6GHz Quad Core processor, 2GB RAM, and either 16 or 32GB of storage space. Unlike the iPads, you get a micro SD expansion slot which comes in handy if you need more memory. Since the iPad mini was criticized for the lack of a Retina display, it's worth noting that the Note 8 doesn't have a high-res display either - but its 8-inch 1280 x 800 display has 189 pixels per inch (ppi) which is stil better than the 163ppi display of the iPad mini.
Its camera is pretty standard, 5 megapixels on its back and 1.2 megapixels in front. Didn't get the chance to play around with it much so can't say how it compares to cameras on the SIII or Note 2.
Like both those phones the Note 8 is made of plastic - which means it still doesn't have a expensive feel to it - which can be a good or bad thing - if its anything like the Note 2 - if you drop it, it won't crack or break like say the glass screen of the iPhone which is prone to cracking when dropped.
What's interesting about the device is that aside from coming in a WiFi only version, a 3G and/or LTE version is also available. If you get the latter you don't only get mobile data but you also get the ability to make phone calls. I don't think I'd be walking down the street with an 8-inch tablet to my face, but its good to know that you have that option if the need be.
Overall I think its a solid tablet. Am happy to see the iPad mini have a direct competitor, after all competition can only make both devices better. No word on pricing at the moment, but I understand Samsung plans on a 2Q 2013 global release date.
Watch my entire hands-on video below. More from the Samsung Forum on next week's episode of TechRap out March 3rd.