Friday, 13 June 2014

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Review

Boy, time flies when you’re having fun (read that as: things change when you aren’t looking). Turn on the TV, or go to the movies after a couple years away and you’ll find that Pokemon is now pronounced ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ and that early 90’s Shawn Michaels and late 90’s Val Venis have had a baby and named it Dolph Ziggler.


What’s more, it turns out that the fictional world of ‘Pandora’ from the movie Avatar was actually Superman’s homeworld of Krypton after all and, as a related point, ‘Prince of Persia’ is no longer the worst movie I’ve ever seen. In fact, after viewing the risible ‘Man of Steel’ I can now accept ‘Prince of Persia’ as the underrated cinematic classic it appears to be by comparison.


Anyway, the point is that it seems like only a few months ago that I was (favourably) reviewing The Samsung Galaxy Note and now, here I am reviewing a slightly bigger version. Ah, well, join me as I turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes…


THE SPECS


The design is nice, smart and modern. The rounded edges and sleek casing of this tablet help it to stand out (if only a little), but also allow it to remain familiar to users picking it up for the first time.


As a hybrid of phone and tablet, referred to by some (stupidly) as a ‘phablet’ this device is quite hotly anticipated and finds itself in somewhat virgin territory. However, as we will soon see, the design is very much more tablet than phone.


Fitted with a 1.6GHz Exynos 4412 quad-core processor and housing 2GB of memory, this tablet goes like the script for ‘Man of Steel’ off of a shovel. As a web device, the Galaxy Note 8 is genuinely lightening quick, even faster than the iPad 4.


As for the screen, the Note 8 features a basically standard resolution. We’re talking Nexus-level here. Not bad at all, but certainly not a Retina screen.


Annoyingly, the Note 8 only runs about 5 hours of battery life, this is really not very good, especially when you consider that the iPad 4 boasts more than twice that amount.


THE PRICE


If you’re wondering why I’m comparing the new Note with the iPad so much, well, let me explain. At £339, this is a high-priced tablet. It is therefore directly competing with the iPad for customers; however, the Note is competing without the strength of Apple’s brand identity to prop it up. Also, your £340 only covers the WiFi-only, 16GB version of the Note 8, not the top-spec version.


So far, I’m not convinced, but there’s always time to change my mind. 


THE PERFORMANCE


There are too many pre-loaded apps on this tablet, the reason why this is a problem is that customers are largely familiar with Google’s apps (available from the Android store) and so it sort of feels that Samsung are pushing their own apps at you when you don’t necessarily want them to. 


Taking advantage of the bigger screen is the excellent ‘Multi-Window’ option that allows you to have two apps operating on screen at any given time. This is actually a wonderful option to have and the processing power of the Note 8 allows for few interruptions, its really cool.


Using this tablet is easy, the stylus works well and there’s even a SIM card slot for phone calls. The array of extra features available here, shows that Samsung have poured a considerable amount of time and effort into this one.


THE VERDICT


All told, this is a good tablet. It is, however, not a great tablet. I have a hard time justifying it at the price, to be honest. If you’re looking for a phone/tablet hybrid, this is one of the best around, but how many of you are really making phone calls with your tablets?


If Samsung knocked a few notes off of the price, we’d be looking at a real winner. As a value tablet (more in line, price-wise, with the larger versions of The Nexus or Kindle Fire models), the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 would be something rather interesting, but at this price? No, I can’t recommend it.


It’s certainly not a steaming pile of ‘Man of Steel’, but, by the same token, we’re not looking at a future classic either.