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Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 has a few things that the current crop of non-Windows tablets will never have. One is the ability to split the screen between two applications and float a third window on top. Another takes control of media components with its infrared emitter. And, the third is a built-in stylus. When combined, these capabilities add up to increased productivity potential on a tablet that can be just as useful for content creation as it can for content consumption. There's also a hefty price. A Galaxy Note 8 lists for $399 with 16 GB, $70 more than Apple's iPad Mini and double that of Google's Nexus 7 with the same memory.
For review, Samsung sent the CRN Test Center a cream white unit, which looks an awful lot like a larger version of the Galaxy S4 we reviewed a few weeks back. We've heard that Note 8 also will be available in black, brown and red. With its shiny metallic frame, the Galaxy Note 8 is handsome in any color and feels comfortable to hold with one or two hands. Its edges are wide, making accidental presses on the touchscreen less frequent. Galaxy Note 8 is 5.3 inches wide, 8.3 inches long and less than a third of an inch thick. It weighs in at around 12 ounces with 3G/LTE or Wi-Fi.
Processor and interfaces
The Galaxy Note 8 contains a far more powerful processor than most tablets in its class. Like the 10.1-inch Galaxy Note, the Galaxy Note 8 is built around Samsung's Exynos 4412 quad-core system-on-chip with 2 GB of system RAM. The SoC runs its four ARM Cortex A9 application processor cores at 1.6GHz. It's also packing four ARM Mali 400 graphics processors. The Exynos 4412 delivers superior application and graphics performance and zero lag, even with multiple apps displayed.
Many will applaud Samsung's move to replace its proprietary 30-pin connector with the more versatile USB Micro-B plug for charging, file transfer, video and other purposes. But, this relatively small connector is easily bent, and it might concern (or confound) IT departments in the long run. A side-loading microSD slot can add as much as 64 GB for app and data storage. Other external interfaces are a top-edge headphone jack, right-edge power and volume buttons and a single front-panel home key introduced with the Galaxy S3 smartphone.
Also like the S3, menu and back soft buttons straddle that single hardware home button. But unlike previous Note tablets, the stylus can now be used to press the soft buttons. And for stylus users, switching to the finger for button presses is like having to move your mouse hand to the keyboard -- not that big of a deal once in awhile, but a nuisance if required all the time.