For those intents and purposes, eight inches is the new sweet spot for tablets. We’ve up to now seen several hits with this form factor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. perhaps foremost and this includes. It makes sense, in the end; 10.1 inches can be unwieldy for travelers, and 7 inches scrimps a bit on-screen real-estate. Samsung’s leveraged this trend to provide another 8-incher to the lineup: the $300 Galaxy Tab 3 8.. With 16GB of built in storage, a dual-core processor and WiFi — but not LTE — support, it’s hardly revolutionary aside from those novel dimensions. Still, we’ve found plenty to adore with Galaxy Tabs previously, so is this one more strong contender? Meet us past the break to learn.
The Tab 3 8. may not have the name recognition of Android Tablet, but just what it is equipped with within its favor is actually a svelte, lightweight design. At 10.9 ounces (309.1g), it’s comfortable to hold one-handed, and at just .29 inch (7.36mm) thick, it can make the .31-inch Note 8. look (and feel) positively bloated. While we appreciate that Samsung shrunk the bezels on this model, it can help it become difficult to grip the slate up top without touching the display; you’ll desire to contain the tablet in the bottom to protect yourself from unintentional input. Incidentally, you’ll also want to avoid gripping the tablet at the very top which means you won’t hit the volume rocker on 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 within a dimpled pattern. While we’re not huge fans with this color — our personal Joseph Volpe calls this shade “scab brown” — it’s not quite as reflective as Samsung’s usual white and black options, meaning the tablet’s plastic build is a touch more pleasing to think about. (In case you prefer a more standard color choice, you can always choose the white version.) This textured finish likewise helps mask the fingerprints which will inevitably grease within the tablet’s backing, though you’ll still want to wipe along the tablet regularly. Another sweet touch: the bronzy faux-chrome trim lining the tablet, which adds a bit more flare in comparison to the standard silver trim (which you’ll still see around the white Tab 3 8.). This flourish carries onto the Tab’s backside, where 5-megapixel rear camera is encompassed by the same material.
We’ve pretty much covered all of the surprises on 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 midst of the device’s non-removable back cover. In the front of the device, you’ll find 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 on the left edge of the slate, while the power button and volume rocker line the right side. The correct edge can also be home to an IR blaster, which lets you use the tab like a remote device for your TV. Samsung’s been pushing this feature on several tablets, for example the new Tab 3 10.1 along with the Galaxy Tab 7. Plus from almost two years ago. As always, the headphone jack sits on the top edge, even though the micro-USB port sits at the base in addition to two mini speaker grilles.
Samsung used a 1,280 x 800 (WXGA) TFT LCD panel for the Tab 3 8., and therefore resolution makes for a wonderful viewing experience. Images and text are perfectly crisp, and colours look reasonably vibrant also. On top of that, viewing angles are nice and wide, though you’ll use a harder time using the tablet in sunshine; the panel is certainly glare-prone.The 10.1-inch version of your Tab 3 also packs a WXGA resolution, which suggests the Tab 3 8.0’s panel features a higher pixel density (148 pixels per inch versus 189).
Running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), the Galaxy Tab 3 8. provides a few standout features in addition to the standard suite of Samsung apps. Such as Peel Smart Remote, which utilizes the tablet’s IR blaster to manipulate your TV, and also the recently introduced Smart Stay for detecting when you look outside the screen and pausing and resuming your videos accordingly. Notably, Smart Stay will be the only “Smart” feature to make it over to this tab — many of these features live exclusively on the GS 4, at least for now.
In most cases, Samsung leaves the app-collecting to you, only loading up the Tab 3 8. with a number of pre-selected programs. Such as Dropbox, Flipboard and TripAdvisor in addition to the expected parade of Samsung programs (ChatON, Game Hub, Group Play, S Voice, S Planner, WatchON — you already know the drill).
Even though the Tab’s older sibling, the Tab 3 10.1, packs a 3.2-megapixel rear camera, we obtain a 5MP shooter to perform with here. Many individuals will appreciate the straightforward camera UI, which offers a straightforward settings menu around the right-hand side from the screen. The digital camera app will give 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 tend to look just a little fuzzy. You’ll would like to avoid shadier, darker environments, while we didn’t have much luck in those conditions. Overall, the shooter is going to do within a pinch, but you’re far better with a standalone point-and-shoot (as if you didn’t recognize that already).
You can even shoot video in 720p, but don’t expect extremely fluid movement. Our sample clip looks quite jerky, and autofocus didn’t do a great 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 happens to be adequate for selfies (if you must) and video chats. We look a lttle bit washed-in our sample shots, but that’s to get expected.
Using 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. Once we first powered on the tablet, the system had been a mess of hiccups for example force closes and several seconds’ delay responding. We weren’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of making use of the slate after those initial few minutes, but luckily the going got smoother right after. That’s not to imply you won’t encounter the occasional stuttering or freezing; as we found using the Tab 3 10.1, everyday performance is frustratingly inconsistent. The camera app seems especially susceptible to upsetting the tab; it force-closed on us at least five times during our couple of days of testing.
On our battery test — that involves playing a local 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 together with the Galaxy Note 8., the newest Nexus 7 and also the HP Slate 7, though several 7-inchers like the ASUS MeMo Pad HD 7 and also the Hisense Sero 7 Pro last several hours longer. Needless to say, you can anticipate more longevity with a lot more moderate use; we easily got by way of a full day with occasional emailing and lightweight gaming, as an example.
When you are able take home the Galaxy Note 8. with its superior performance and S Pen just for $100 more, the Tab 3 8. is a bit of a tough sell. Yes, the latter does offer a thinner design and runs Android 4.2 instead of the Note’s Android 4.1, but those advantages only tip the scale a great deal. If you wish to stay within Samsung’s galaxy, we’d say you’re more satisfied opting for the Tab 3 8. compared to the pricier Tab 3 10.1, as the smaller size will make it a more compelling travel companion and the difference in performance is negligible.
Beyond Samsung’s ecosystem, you will have a few additional options also. The newest Nexus 7, retailing for $229 or higher, has wireless charging as well as a brilliant 1080p display in its favor — along with a really reasonable price. And if you’re wed on the 8-inch form factor (and ready to accept another OS), the 7.9-inch iPad mini’s impressive battery lifespan and access to the App Store could be top reasons to shell out $329-plus. The end result is that the two of these options are far more memorable than Samsung’s latest 8-incher, and we’re coming to expect standout features on tablets in return for our dough.