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Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is not an iPad Mini killer

Last updated on: May 28, 2013 11:15 IST

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is not an iPad Mini killer

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Abhik Sen


Many years ago, owning a mobile phone was a sign you had arrived. Depending on one's budget, one could choose from the few handsets, nearly identical in functions, available.

With the progress of technology came the boon of choice, which is proving to be a bane in recent times.

If many handsets at multiple price points and form factors weren't enough to confuse you, we now have multiple devices straddling different categories. For example, tablets with calling facility.

Samsung, which already had such a device, Galaxy Tab 2, has added the Galaxy Note 510, which is what the Note 8.0 is called in India. Let's see what it can do.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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Look and feel

The Note 510 is made of plastic with a metal strip running around its edge. It comes in Samsung's signature white colour, and while it's easy to grip the device, it looks cheap. Though it can be held in one hand, it's more comfortable if held it with two hands.

The top of the device houses the audio jack ,while the right side has the power/lock key, the volume rocker and the IR sensor.

The opposite side houses the microSD and microSIM slots, while the bottom has the microUSB port and two speakers.

The bottom right corner houses the S Pen, while the front has the home, back and menu buttons below the 8-inch screen. The device feels solidly built.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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User interface

We turn on the Note 510 to find Samsung's familiar TouchWiz interface.

Running Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), it comes with Samsung's typical customisations, minus some. For example, the Air Gesture function, spotted on the Galaxy S4, is missing.

The Smart Stay, which checks if one is looking at the tab or not, is present. The user interface mimics that of the S4 and supports features such as multi-window.

The 1.6-GHz quad-core processor ensures there is no lag while using this feature. Games are enjoyable on the bright screen (though we've seen more vivid colours, like that on the S4).

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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We would like it if Samsung incorporates something like 'Floating Apps', a menu found on the ASUS FonePad that lets one access commonly used apps easily, on this tab.

After getting used to them, we really missed them on the 510. Of course, there's something called 'Favourite apps', but 'Floating Apps' are so much better.

Calling and texting

The 510 essentially feels like an oversized phablet while making calls. To make things simple, one needs a headset, which, surprisingly, isn't present in the sales package.

A Bluetooth (version 4 is supported by this tab) headset is ideal. Video chats over the 1.3MP front camera are fine, but the placement of speakers at the bottom of the tab creates a problem. Place the tab on a table or something and the sound gets muffled.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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The tab has three keyboard modes - portrait, landscape and split. Typing in the landscape mode is effortless but the keypad feels cramped in the portrait mode. The split mode comes in handy, especially when one is in multi-window mode.

The screen is a pleasure to read eBooks on, indoors. Outdoors, visibility takes a hit.

If you are using the 510 after you have been using a high-end smartphone for long, you will notice the difference in the quality of the screen.

For example, while the Galaxy S4 sports a Super AMOLED screen, the 510 has just a TFT LCD screen, as is the norm in tabs.

Even then, we found the display of the Google Nexus 7, a device cheaper by around Rs 10,000, better.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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Camera, music, video

The 5MP back camera doesn't sport a flash, but its autofocus function works well outdoors. Some colours might appear muted. Indoors, dark places are a problem. The camera can also shoot videos in 720p without a hitch.

With no supplied headphone (and the surprising exclusion of FM radio), the 510 might not be your preferred music device. But the stock Android player is intuitive.

However, the speakers aren't very loud and if you don't get a stand, get ready to strain your ears to catch the dialogue if you plan to watch a film on it. Also, viewing angles on the 510 aren't as great as on the S4.

Battery life

The big, though non-replaceable, battery on the 510 lasted us for more than a day after innumerable sessions of Temple Run, Facebook, heavy browsing, light calling and moderate viewing of videos. This device won't let you down on that road trip.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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The good bits...

Browsing was a fantastic experience on this tab and full marks to Samsung for retaining the ICS browser. Websites with flash loaded fast over both Wi-Fi and 3G.

The tab can also be used as an oversized remote for other devices. The best feature of the tab is, of course, the S Pen. (Why else would you pay double the price of the Tab 2, which has calling facility, for a tab with roughly the same functions?)

Take it out of the silo and the S menu pops up. The 510 lets one jot down notes during meetings and while handwriting recognition is present, it takes some time getting used to.

Use the Wacom-enabled stylus any way you want - to draw and paint, take notes or just to browse through menu screens (in fact we loved how easily we could do the last one).

Used with other tools on the 510, the S Pen becomes a great productivity tool. And the battery is a big plus.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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The turn-offs

The 510 doesn't have NFC built-in, a big miss for a tablet at its price, especially since the cheaper Nexus 7 has it. While people don't generally use tabs to click photos, a flash would have helped those who want to make full use of an otherwise decent camera.

The absence of a headset for a tab with calling facility left us baffled, especially when the cheapest of Android phones also bundle in headsets.

The 510 supports MVL over the microUSB slot, but the sales package doesn't include a microUSB-to-HDMI cable, so we couldn't check the feature out.

Verdict

The Galaxy Note 510 is a premium tablet, which misses a few extra features. One can always go in for the cheaper Google Nexus 7, but this doesn't have calling facility or the wonderful S Pen we've fallen in love with.

Despite that, the 510 could still face competition from devices in Samsung's own stable, especially if you're in the market for a phablet.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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Samsung Galaxy Note 510 Specification

Price: Rs 30,999

Screen: 8-inch 1280x800 pixels TFT LCD multi-touch panel

Weight: 340g

OS: Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)

RAM: 2GB

Processor: 1.6GHz quad core

Memory: 16GB, expandable via microSD (up to 64GB cards supported)

Camera (rear/front): 5MP /1.3MP

Battery: 4600 mAh Li-Ion


Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung

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