For many intents and purposes, eight inches may be the new sweet position for tablets. We’ve to date seen several hits with this particular form factor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. perhaps foremost among them. It makes sense, in fact; 10.1 inches could be unwieldy for travelers, and 7 inches scrimps a lttle bit on screen real-estate. Samsung’s leveraged this trend to add another 8-incher to its lineup: the $300 Galaxy Tab 3 8.. With 16GB of built-in storage, a dual-core processor and WiFi — however, not LTE — support, it’s hardly revolutionary in addition to those novel dimensions. Still, we’ve found plenty to like with Galaxy Tabs before, so is this another strong contender? Meet us beyond the break to find out.
The Tab 3 8. might not have the name recognition of Android Tablet, but what it comes with in their favor is a svelte, lightweight design. At 10.9 ounces (309.1g), it’s comfortable to carry one-handed, as well as at just .29 inch (7.36mm) thick, it will make the .31-inch Note 8. look (and feel) positively bloated. Basically we appreciate that Samsung shrunk the bezels about this model, it does ensure it is hard to grip the slate up top without touching the display; you’ll wish to support the tablet at the bottom to protect yourself from unintentional input. Incidentally, you’ll want to avoid gripping the tablet at the very top which means you won’t hit the quantity rocker in the upper-right edge.
Slimness aside, the Tab 3 8. also feels more premium than the Note and even the final-gen Tab 2 line, thanks to those skinny bezels as well as a brown-black hue done up inside a dimpled pattern. While we’re not huge fans with this color — our very own Joseph Volpe refers to this as shade “scab brown” — it’s not as reflective as Samsung’s usual white and black options, meaning the tablet’s plastic build is a bit more pleasing to look at. (Should you really want a more standard color choice, you could always select the white version.) This textured finish also helps mask the fingerprints which will inevitably grease within the tablet’s backing, though you’ll still wish to wipe on the tablet regularly. Another sweet touch: the bronzy faux-chrome trim lining the tablet, which adds a bit more flare compared to standard silver trim (which you’ll still see around the white Tab 3 8.). This flourish carries over to the Tab’s backside, where 5-megapixel rear camera is surrounded by exactly the same material.
We’ve pretty much covered each of the surprises about the Tab 3 8.: port placement is par for that course, as it is the Samsung branding sitting both atop the touchscreen and in the middle of the device’s non-removable back cover. In the front from the device, you’ll locate a 1.3-megapixel camera up top, as the physical home button sits underneath the display, flanked by capacitive keys for settings and back. A microSD slot sits around the left side of the slate, while the power button and volume rocker line the best side. The best edge is additionally home to an IR blaster, which lets you apply the tab as being a remote device to your TV. Samsung’s been pushing this feature on several tablets, for example the new Tab 3 10.1 and the Galaxy Tab 7. Plus from almost 2 years ago. As always, the headphone jack sits at the top edge, even though the micro-USB port sits on the bottom in addition to two mini speaker grilles.
Samsung used a 1,280 x 800 (WXGA) TFT LCD panel for your Tab 3 8., and therefore resolution creates a fabulous viewing experience. Images and text are perfectly crisp, and colors look reasonably vibrant as well. In addition to that, viewing angles are nice and wide, though you’ll possess a harder time while using tablet in sunlight; the panel is definitely glare-prone.The 10.1-inch version of your Tab 3 also packs a WXGA resolution, meaning the Tab 3 8.0’s panel includes a higher pixel density (148 pixels per inch versus 189).
Running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), the Galaxy Tab 3 8. offers a few standout features along with the standard suite of Samsung apps. Some examples are Peel Smart Remote, which utilizes the tablet’s IR blaster to manipulate your TV, and also the recently introduced Smart Stay for detecting whenever you look out of the screen and pausing and resuming your videos accordingly. Notably, Smart Stay will be the only “Smart” feature making it to this tab — many of these bells and whistles live exclusively around the GS 4, no less than for the present time.
Typically, Samsung leaves the app-collecting to you personally, only loading up the Tab 3 8. with a number of pre-selected programs. Some examples are Dropbox, Flipboard and TripAdvisor along with the expected parade of Samsung programs (ChatON, Game Hub, Group Play, S Voice, S Planner, WatchON — you know the drill).
While the Tab’s older sibling, the Tab 3 10.1, packs a 3.2-megapixel rear camera, we receive a 5MP shooter to play with here. Many individuals will appreciate the easy camera UI, that provides a straightforward settings menu around the right-hand side of the screen. The camera app offers you several modes for snapping pics: the self-explanatory Auto, Beauty Face, Night, Panorama, Sports and Sound & Shot. Our sample shots deliver accurate, if not entirely vibrant, colors, though images usually look a bit fuzzy. You’ll would like to avoid shadier, darker environments, while we didn’t have much luck in those conditions. Overall, the shooter will do inside a pinch, but you’re a lot better with a standalone point-and-shoot (just like you didn’t know that already).
Also you can shoot video in 720p, but don’t expect extremely fluid movement. Our sample clip looks quite jerky, and autofocus didn’t do a fantastic job at making objects look crisp. About the upside, audio came through loud and clear, with limited background interference. Finally, there’s a 1.3MP front camera, which can be adequate for selfies (in the event you must) and video chats. We look a lttle bit washed-out in our sample shots, but that’s to become expected.
With a 1.5GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos 4 processor and 1.5GB of RAM, the Tab 3 8. is no match for slates running higher-end silicon. Whenever we first powered in the tablet, the device was really a mess of hiccups like force closes and lots of seconds’ delay in response. We weren’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of making use of the slate after those initial minutes, but luckily the going got smoother shortly after. That’s not saying you won’t encounter the occasional stuttering or freezing; while we found with the Tab 3 10.1, everyday performance is frustratingly inconsistent. Your camera app seems especially vulnerable to upsetting the tab; it force-closed on us at the very least 5 times during our week of testing.
On our battery test — that requires playing a nearby video on loop with WiFi on and brightness set to fifty percent — this Tab’s 4,450mAh power pack lasted seven hours and 19 minutes. That’s on 01dexhpky with the Galaxy Note 8., the brand new Nexus 7 and the HP Slate 7, though a couple of 7-inchers such as the ASUS MeMo Pad HD 7 as well as the Hisense Sero 7 Pro last several hours longer. Needless to say, you may expect more longevity with a lot more moderate use; we easily got via a full day with occasional emailing and light-weight gaming, as an example.
When you are able take home the Galaxy Note 8. with its superior performance and S Pen for only $100 more, the Tab 3 8. is a bit of a tough sell. Yes, the second does give a thinner design and runs Android 4.2 rather than the Note’s Android 4.1, but those advantages only tip the scale so much. In order to stay within Samsung’s galaxy, we’d say you’re better off going for the Tab 3 8. than the pricier Tab 3 10.1, as the smaller size can make it a much more compelling travel companion and also the difference in performance is negligible.
Away from Samsung’s ecosystem, you have a few other available choices at the same time. The new Nexus 7, retailing for $229 and up, has wireless charging along with a brilliant 1080p display in their favor — in addition to an incredibly reasonable price. And when you’re wed for the 8-inch form factor (and available to another OS), the 7.9-inch iPad mini’s impressive battery life and access to the App Store could be good reasons to spend $329-plus. The end result is that the two of these choices are a lot more memorable than Samsung’s latest 8-incher, and we’re coming over to expect standout features on tablets in exchange for our dough.