Announced at the MWC this year, the latest in Samsung's ever so popular Note series is the 8-inch equipped Note 8.0, or 510 as its being dubbed for India. Seemingly, the Note 510 will be taking the iPad mini head on. Of course, if Apple launches a mini with a Retina Display, Samsung could be in trouble. Touted to be launched by the end of March, the 510 brings with it some relevant features that could inspire you to upgrade from the Galaxy Tab 310, and dare I say it, the Note 2, if need be. At Samsung's Forum, I got a chance to check out the 510 and here's what I think off the bat.
Now, it's starting to get real lazy on Samsung's part. While no one can say that the Note 510 isn't a nice looking device, or complain too much about the ergonomics, I think it's about time Samsung issued a memo to the design department to start changing the designs of their devices and not just the sizes. The Note 510 is a replica of the Note 2, only larger, of course. The 8.0-inch display sports a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, which makes it a little more vibrant compared to the iPad mini's display.
Simple and elegant form, but a tad heavy
The build quality of the 510 is quite solid and the device has a bit of a premium feel to it as well, especially with the flip cover that was showcased with it at the Forum. It weighs 338 g and while that might take it a tad on the heavy set side, it seemed like the weight was quite balanced out, still making it quite a portable product. Unlike some of the 7 inch tablets available today, the 510 is not the device that would fit into your jacket or pant pocket. It's a bit larger, naturally. I think Samsung could have made the device take on a whole new look and feel, if it went with a 310 style, retained the size and simply increased the screen size reducing the bezel. This would also have added a little “oomph” to the design form.
The buttons are placed on the right hand side where an IR sensor is also present. The 5MP shooter is placed on the upper portion of the rear panel where it sat squarely in the centre. An LED flash would have been an asset, I’m sure, but was not part of the feature set. The Note 510 will be shipping with 16GB of on board storage plus the ability to up that further using microSD cards of up to 64GB. That’s plenty of storage for all intents and purposes.
An IR sensor for remote control use
Following further into the existing standard-design form of Samsung mobile products, the Note 510 also features a rectangular-ish home button on one side of the display. This will only make Apple a little more upset I’m sure.
On the whole, the Note 510 comes off as a neat little package in terms of design. We’ll only able to say more when it’s in our labs and we’ve used it significantly for a few days. The only issue that seriously bothered me was the weight. It might make a difference to those who use it as a primary device as large devices aren’t always the easiest to haul around.
At this year’s Samsung Forum, it seemed like the Note 510 was the favourite gadget on display. In some instances, I can see just why some of my colleagues and I were a bit excited. What we have coming up for India in the 510 is another small screen tablet complete with full phone capabilities and all the goodies one would associate with the Note 2.
Samsung’s addition of the S-Pen and some of the corresponding functionality it brings to the table will definitely add some serious value to the 510. The devices on display were running on Jelly Bean 4.1.2 at the time of launch, however, it’s more than likely to get the 4.2.2 update. TouchWiz UI was running quite smoothly on all the demo units, so I’m expecting fluidity of the UI to be a non issue at the time of launch as well.
The S-Pen is a welcome feature
Getting back to the S-Pen, that little tool tends to be a very effective one when it comes to usage. The option to automatically have the “Pop-Up Note” displayed whenever the stylus is removed is quite handy. There’s also Air View for quick read in the emails and messages sections and the option to take quick screen grabs and edit them quickly with the pen in very simplistic motions. The process is well designed.
Features like Pop-Up Play for videos, including those of the HD varieties, worked almost seamlessly when I dragged or adjusted the miniature floating screen all over the display. Restarting the video back in the video player seemed to be a tad slower than switching to the smaller screen. Hopefully, this bug will be fixed before launch. Multi display viewing will also be quite helpful when you don’t really want to leave whatever you're working on, but still need to do something else simultaneously. I only wished that the app support for this feature was a little heavier. For now, most of the native apps that are available on the device itself are supported. Third party apps didn't seem to find their way here, even via the edit feature. Motion-based features straight out of Samsung’s repository were also on hand.
The Notes app taken straight out of the Note 800
The 510 will also support Video out via MHL and I was told that the new video player would support a few more of today’s popular codecs by the time it hits the stand. Needless to say, however, thanks to the Exynos chipset and the 1.6GHz Quad Core processor backing this device, full HD content played beautifully.
The all new Reader Hub and eBook reader have quite a wide range of built-in features that voracious on-screen readers might find quite to their liking. The layout has being tweaked just a bit to make the “pages” appear a little more comfortable for viewing even if the screen brightness was adjusted for all lighting conditions.
The new Notes section is also quite intense with all kinds of categories created for various purposes and neatly laid out and colour coded. I personally liked the fact that the Smart Remote app was built in, allowing you to use your tab with your TV and other devices instead of using separate remotes.
Here's a quick look at the Galaxy Note 510:
The Note 510 will be equipped with a 4600mAh battery, which should be more than enough to sustain you through a full work day and then some.
Other than NFC, the Note 510 comes fully loaded with GPS (with aGPS and GLONASS support), Wi-Fi with hot spot and Wi-Fi Direct, and let’s not forget, 3G connectivity via microSIM can also be used for calls and messages.
There’s been no pricing associated with the Samsung Galaxy Note 510 yet. All we know is that it’s destined to launch at the end of March. Taking into consideration the various features and upgrades for the last small screen tablet the company announced, I’d estimate the price of the 510 to be somewhere in the vicinity of Rs 26,000. This would make it just about rightly positioned to counter the competition and still make it an affordable device for most. It won’t be too long before we find out for sure, so stay tuned.
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