Galaxy Note 8.0 Announced: The Just-Right Size for Samsung's Pen-Equipped Tablet?

PHOTO: Samsungs Galaxy Note 8.0 has an 8-inch screen and a stylus.

The 10.1-inch Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet too big? The 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2 too small to be your tablet but too big to be your phone?

The Galaxy Note 8.0 might be just right. Or at least that's what Samsung is hoping. The company has announced its new 8-inch, Android tablet today at Mobile World Congress, a large mobile tradeshow in Barcelona, and it hopes its new software features and the portable size will make it standout, especially against Apple's iPad Mini.

A Notebook Size
The tablet is slightly wider than the 7-inch tablets on the market, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7, and is meant to be easier to operate in one hand.

"We have seen through consumer research people like the one-handed experience," Shoneel Kolhatkar, Samsung's director of Product Planning, told ABC News. "The Note 10.1 is more of a lean back experience and this is really about the lean forward, you are actively engaged with your notepad and the content you are editing."

Samsung's first Android tablet introduced in 2010 -- the Galaxy Tab -- had a 7-inch display and the company has since made tablets with various different screen sizes. Apple introduced a smaller, 7.9-inch version of the iPad -- the iPad Mini -- in late 2012. Shoneel and other Samsung executives stressed to ABC News that it had smaller tablets long before Apple came out with the Mini.

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Powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, the Galaxy Note 8.0 features a 1280 x 800-resolution WXGA screen and a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front. Samsung says it was designed to be like a personal notebook or diary and that it is the perfect size for you to take anywhere.

Improved S-Pen Software
But key to the hardware is Samsung's S-Pen, the same stylus or digital pen that it began shipping with its other Galaxy Note 10.1 and Galaxy Note 2 products. The pen, Samsung says, provides a natural mode of interaction for users who prefer to write, and has been successful for the company so far.

"The Note category was really really successful, frankly it took many of us by surprise," Kolhatkar said. "As consumers started using the Note devices, they used so many ways of personalizing notes and writing on their photographs. We want to bring the best size form factor into this category of device."

With the Galaxy Note 8.0 Samsung has enhanced the pen software experience, too. The Air View feature lets you hover the pen over specific Samsung apps so you can see previews of videos, emails or photos without actually launching the apps. The pen also now allows you to control the menu and back buttons on the device.

While Samsung is using Google's Android 4.2.1 (or Jelly Bean), it's also built some added multitasking features on top. The multi-window option allow you to put apps side by side. For instance, you can have a website or book on the left side of the screen and then take notes in the S Note application on the right. Other software features include Smart Stay, which will keep the screen on automatically when you are looking at it and a Reader's Mode, which alters the screen brightness for reading.

Smarter Remote
But while Samsung wants the Galaxy Note 8.0 to be your notebook, it also wants it to be your remote control. The tablet has an IR blaster and the company's new Smart Remote app, which allows the tablet to function as a universal remote control. A graphical, TV Guide-like interface allows you tap on images to change the channel. It also includes a new smart search, which lets you search for shows or movies across lots of different services.

The Note 8.0 will be out in the second quarter of 2013. Samsung is not detailing the exact pricing and availability in the U.S., but Kolhatkar did say that the Note would be the best "combination of size and price." Its current Galaxy Note 10.1 sells for $499 and its Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for $199. As Kolhtkar said, "Samsung is always going to provide choice."

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