Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 review: The roadster
Limited connectivity features
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 has the basic connectivity features, but not as many as you'll see on the likes of, say, the Note II. Since we have the WiFi-only version, there's no GSM connectivity to speak of.
The Wi-Fi support covers a/b/g/n, with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz band compatibility and Wi-Fi Direct. The tablet also has Bluetooth 4.0 support.
AllShare Play can be used for transferring and sharing data and multimedia files to your notebook or PC via WiFi.
Group Play, introduced recently from Samsung, allows you to cast pictures, documents, or music to other devices with the app which are on the same WiFi network.
One advantage the Note 8.0 has over most of the competition is its infrared port. The port is used via the Peel app, which allows the Note to act as a controller for television sets of numerous brands.
And finally, for wired connectivity we have the MHL port. By all appearances it is a normal microUSB port and works as one (a charger port as well). But the MHL port enables video output by using a MHL-to-HDMI dongle. Sadly, there isn't one included in the retail box.
Once you plug the dongle into the phone you also need to plug a charger into the additional microUSB port on the dongle and the Galaxy Note 8.0 screen will be mirrored on the TV.
Awesome web browser
A new Android version always comes with an improved web browser and the Jelly Bean browser running on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is no exception. Samsung has put its own spin to it too.
The browser interface is almost non-existent - just a row at the top of the screen for the back and forward buttons, the URL bar with a refresh button, the tab switching key and the bookmarks key.
The browser supports both double tap and pinch zooming along with the two-finger tilt zoom. There are niceties such as find on page, save for offline viewing, request desktop site and so on.
The Web browser comes with Incognito mode, which lets you surf the web without the browser keeping track of your history or storing cookies.
As you can expect, the S Pen also comes into play when using the browser. With it, you can hover over elements of the page as you would with a mouse (very, very few smartphones can do this and this is the first to do it properly). This comes in quite convenient for all those sites that haven't updated their interface yet to work well on a touchscreen (where you can tap something, but not hover over it).
You can also use the S Pen to do quick web searches - just swipe up with the S Pen button pressed to launch Quick command and then scribble your query.
Another Samsung feature in the browser is the Print option, which lets you print out web pages straight from your phone. Unfortunately, this only works only with Samsung printers.
Quick controls are our favorite feature of the Android browser and they've gotten even better with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. In case you've missed it, Quick Controls is basically a jog-dial menu that replaces the buttons on the top and appears when you place your finger near the left or right edge of the screen. It's even more minimalist than the regular UI and it's very comfortable to use single-handed.
You get five controls, but as you highlight one with your finger, it fans out into further options. The tabs, for example, brings out the tab switcher by default, but it also brings out options to open a new tab, a new incognito tab or close the current tab.
Brightness and colors gives you four different presets to adjust the display. Automatic brightness is an option, too, and works only within the browser.