The Display

The Note 8.0 holds a slight pixel density advantage over the iPad mini (189 ppi vs. 163 ppi). Just like the earliest Android tablets that held a similar pixel density advantage (~13%), the improvement is noticeable. At the price point and device size however, the Note 8.0 remains under-specced. Just as the iPad mini would benefit from a Retina class display, the Galaxy Note 8.0 could use a 1080p panel as well. Given we're seeing flagship ~5" Android smartphones ship with 1080p displays, a flagship 8" tablet should meet the same criteria.

Unfortunately one of the hallmarks of TouchWiz is that all icons and widgets are considerably larger than they are under iOS, which results in a lot of wasted space on the 8-inch 1280 x 800 display. Despite having a larger display, higher resolution and higher pixel density, I feel more cramped on the Galaxy Note 8.0 than I do on the iPad mini. I understand this is a conscious design decision by Samsung and I can definitely see larger icons, fonts and touch targets resonating very well with certain demographics, but at the same time I believe the design decision flies in the face of what Samsung is hoping to accomplish with the Note family.

The Note 8.0 can get very bright, but black levels suffer as a result. Overall contrast ratio is a bit better than the iPad mini, but I'd prefer better black levels to absurdly high white levels. The latter can help improve readability outdoors, but even cranked all the way up you'll have issues in direct sunlight.

Pixel Density Comparison

Display Brightness - White Level

Display Brightness - Black Level

Display Contrast Ratio

The Galaxy Note 8.0 uses a standard LED backlit LCD display instead of the AMOLED based panels common in Samsung’s smartphones. The departure is a welcome change in my opinion as the Note 8’s avoids Samsung’s AMOLED color calibration tendencies. In fact, the Galaxy Note 8.0’s display performed very similarly to the iPad mini in our color accuracy tests:

CalMAN Display Performance - White Point Average

CalMAN Display Performance - Grayscale Average dE 2000

CalMAN Display Performance - Gamut Average dE 2000

CalMAN Display Performance - Saturations Average dE 2000

CalMAN Display Performance - Gretag Macbeth Average dE 2000

The mini doesn’t feature as accurate of a display as the bigger Retina iPads, which gives the Note 8 a lower target to shoot for, but its performance is admirable nonetheless.

Samsung does offer a couple of display presets on the Note 8, similar to what it does on other platforms. Choosing between Dynamic, Standard and Movie modes plays around with white points and color balance a bit. The standard setting is pretty good out of the box, although movie mode does move the white point closer to 6500K and improved color accuracy by a little bit.

The Note 8’s software build also ships with support for a reader mode that further warms up the white point in an attempt to make reading text easier on your eyes. In an attempt to bring as much of the PC experience as possible to Android tablets, Samsung bombards you with customization options - including the ability to select which applications use reader mode when it’s enabled. You can’t enable reader mode for all apps, but 3rd party apps are supported.

Introduction & Design TouchWiz Customizations & UI Performance
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  • HanakoIkezawa - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Menu or back button. Hardware buttons and the "experience" are completely objective and chanfe from user to user. Ios devices drive me insane because I only have a menu button ans no back button, but my sister loves having only one button on her iphone. I feel lost on nexus devices because of the lack of hardware buttons but im sure some nexus owners how despise the note 8 layout.

    It's all matter of opinion.
  • antef - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    A menu button need not be in a permanent bar that uses screen real estate, it should be with the app's UI, which is what Google's guidelines indicate. It doesn't make sense for a large screen application to require a tiny button off-screen to be pressed to pull up app functionality. It's disjointed and unintuitive.
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Heh I suggest that the fact that the Surface Pro is based on any Ivy Bridge Core i5 chip could be the reason it is faster at, oh, everything. :)
  • herts_joatmon - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    I mainly want this for sketching. I had no issues when trying it out in the samsung store. I was using Sketchbook pro though not s note. Had 4 layers on there (sketch, inking, backround colour and picture colour). It seemed to work fine through out. I only spent about 15 minutes playing though...
  • GNUminex - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    As a college student I constantly see other students struggling to annotate lecture slides or or pdfs on their tablets, and/or struggling to type on their tablets. It really confounds me why no one has set out to make hardware that comprehensively meets the productivity needs of these people and then market the device to them. Keyboards that don't physically connect to the tablets and act as a base are not practical for all situations. The transformer's dock doesn't make a sturdy base. The Surfaces don't sit well on a lap and are too expensive. The Note finally solves the writing problem with it's stylus but has no keyboard, and the more traditional tablet laptops are too big and too expensive.
  • The0ne - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    You've been using Win8 tablets for years? How can this be?
  • The0ne - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    You've been using Win8 tablets for years? How can this be?
  • nerd1 - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Win8 developer preview was released July 2012 as far as I remember.
  • ezekiel68 - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    I came in interested in the Note 8. I left interested in the Nexus 10.
  • haukionkannel - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Well, I came to the same conclusion than the article writer. I would take any day Nexys 7 with a s-pen over this product if it only would be available... Better screen, longer usage time, smaller size...
    Hopefully we will some day see "note" version of some of those small size Nexus tablets!
    I don't mind a little bit weaker CPU or GPU as long as you get better screen and longer battery time!
    But not a bad product at all!

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