Also known as the Galaxy Note 8 in some markets, this is Samsung’s response to the iPad Mini. But does it have anything that we’ve never seen before?
Nearly a year ago, there were clear demarcations between categories of handheld devices, depending on their screen sizes. You had smartphones (3.5-5 inch), phablets (5-6-inch), small tablets (7-inch) and big tablets (10-inch). Now, those lines are blurred and almost gone, thanks to Samsung. The Galaxy series varies from small to normal to ridiculously big (Mega 6.3).
And to add to the confusion, they even have a range of tablets varying by specs and screen size, and eventually, price. From a customer’s point of view, that’s just too confusing! So now that I’ve been using the 8-incher Galaxy Note 510 (GT-N5100) for a while, I’ve been forced to think if going for a phablet would be simpler.
* DESIGN AND BUILD
I totally understand that a manufacturer needs to follow a design philosophy for a particular range of products. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that all its products end up looking the same, albeit different in size.
Let me put it this way – if I were to put one glossy white unit each of Galaxy S3, Galaxy Grand, both 5.8 and 6.3 variants of Galaxy Mega and the Galaxy Note 510, the sight would be similar to keeping the same t-shirt in different sizes and fits in an apparel store. Yes, the design screams Samsung, but we need something new now. The build quality too, is the same plastic one. I’d like to put my money on the metal unibody Asus Fonepad or the iPad Mini.
The button placement too is same as the other Galaxy products, with the exception here being the pull-out S-Pen at the bottom. There’s also an earpiece, as the Note 510 comes with calling facility in select markets, India included.
* SPECS AND PERFORMANCE
The 8-inch screen is a TFT one, which is decent enough to work on indoors, and has decent viewing angles too. But it’s not AMOLED, and using the tablet outdoors can be a bit of a bother, for the screen is too reflective and not bright enough. And because it’s a bigger screen, we really hoped for it to have full HD (1920x1080p) resolution – it comes with 1200×800 pixels, which what just about every device is toting these days. Colour reproduction, however, is spot on.
Processing power, however, is quite good. The Note 510 runs on a quad-core 1.6 GHz chip, and is accompanied by a 2GB RAM to keep the user interface and apps fluidic. And a Mali-400 GPU also adds to the power while playing games with heavy graphics or while watching HD videos. On Quadrant, the Note 510 scores 6881 points, making it one of the best in class in terms of performance. There’s an option for 16 or 32GB of internal storage, and also an expansion bay for up to 64GB more.
And once I made sure that no one was looking, I also used the Note 510 for making a few calls. The call quality is really good, but the idea of holding a phone the size of a quarter-plate to your face is equally ridiculous.
The Note 510 comes with all the usual Samsung Smart features, like Smart Stay, Multi-Window and the S-Pen integration is a replica of the Galaxy Note II (which is one of the best stylus experiences).
* CAMERA AND MULTIMEDIA
A sad sigh always escapes me when I have to talk about tablet cameras. I’ve used some fantastic cameras on smartphones, and I don’t really understand why tablets face the discrimination – I am yet to see a spectacular camera on a tablet that’s as good as the smartphones’. The Note 510 sports a 5MP rear camera with no flash. Daylight shots lack sharpness on the edges, but colour reproduction is good. And low-light shots, as expected, are quite grainy.
The Note 510, as I discovered, if nothing, can be a good entertainment device. Sound quality of the stereo speakers is quite good, with good clarity at even highest volume levels. The screen is good for indoor use, and along with a good GPU you can watch a lot of HD videos or play HD games. A solid 4,600 mAh battery gives a full day of charge on heavy multimedia usage.
The Note 510 has quite a good under-the-hood performance, but it lacks appeal in many areas like design, camera and build quality. For the last 3, you’ll be better off with an iPad Mini. But then again, I am forced to believe that the Galaxy Note II has all of this, a better camera, a slightly better design and paint options, and is more portable and has an even longer battery life. And making calls on it wouldn’t look funny. But if a tablet with a stylus is your ultimate need, the Note 510 just about cuts it.