on 24 March 2014
I'm a dyed in the wool laptop user and have been since they were invented. I bought my wife an iPad last year and have been impressed with it (when I had a chance to try it). But have never been an Apple fan so, as we were going on holiday, I invested in an Android equivalent. Having read loads of reviews on all sorts of Tablets, I chose the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8 inch as a starter into the world of Tablets...
Very impressed. It is simple to use and does everything I expect of it. It finds the Wi-Fi connections and connects when told to. The keyboard appears when I need to type and I can still see the box I'm typing in. (I have tried other tablets where the original screen disappears behind the text area where i'm typing). The screen is extremely sensitive to touch and reacts instantly. (occasionally too sensitive when reading a book). I still use my laptop on my desk for this kind of work (typing up reviews, writing emails etc.) 'cos I spent most of my working life sat at a desk with a computer keyboard and screen. However, the galaxy tab accompanies me when I travel about and gives me easy access to the Internet and is more convenient than my phone. I'd recommend this particular device to anyone looking to join the world of Tablet users and don't wish to line Apple's coffers
After a fair bit of research I bought the Nexus 7 (2013) as my first tablet very recently. I chose it on the basis of the hardware specs, good screen and generally favourable reviews. I though about an iPad (for all of 3 seconds) but didn't consider them good value and was not keen to get locked into the apple ecosystem, ditto the new Kindle Fire hdx which is a lot of machine for the money but doesn't give you access to the Play Store (without a bit of jiggery rootery pokery anyway) so you are limited there. For the record I'm not a Samsung or Android fanboy - the last thing I bought with Galaxy on it was made of chocolate and my phone is a Nokia running Windows which I love. Anyway, I bought the Nex and whilst fairly happy with it, I did have issues and when a gadget mad friend of mine bought this Galaxy into work, I was promptly won over. The seven incher went quietly but quickly back courtesy of Amazon's exemplary customer service.
Here's why :
1] Size matters ! The extra inch and slightly wider format of the GT add up to a considerable enlargement in screen real estate. Watching iPlayer for example on the Nexus was akin to looking through a letter box for my forty-something eyes. Like the much vaunted Nexus screen however the GT display is warm, detailed and vibrant and I am very impressed with it. The wider format complete with white surround and square silver edge make the Samsung a much more handsome beast than the rather dull and anonymous Nexus and it still fits comfortably in my jeans back pocket (in it's case) too. I strongly recommend visiting Currys or PC World if you can to check them side by side if you are undecided.
2] Buttons ! The other main issue I had with the Nexus was the handling. With no "hard" buttons, the home (and other) touch screen buttons disappear when watching movies etc and move with screen rotation. This meant an extra touch to bring them back and their presence on screen ate further into the narrow display. With the GT's three physical (two of them soft) buttons always there, things are much simpler and quicker. With a flat edge compared to the Nexus curved, the power and volume buttons are also much easier to locate and use - particularly when in a case.
3] More room ! A micro SD slot adds extra storage cheaply and easily. At the time of writing a 16Gb card comes free with this giving you a handy 32Gb from day one.
4] Guff ! A lot has been said about the customisation of Android by Samsung however I have found the manufacturers overlay and apps both welcome and useful. For example, the Samsung browser I find to be quicker than Google Chrome and the array of settings to play with are much broader and easier to adjust. The Android (mine came with Jelly Bean 4.2.2, not 4.1 as specified) not only looks prettier but is way more beginner friendly in many ways and the help function is very "helpful" too. With the Nexus you are given the nuts and bolts Android - no more and no less. This looks pretty spartan to me although this may suit the geeks. Importantly you still have full access to the Google Play store with the Tab.
5] Dosh ! When I purchased this (November 2013), it was the same price as a Nexus 7 but for a bigger screen and 32Gb storage although the price does change so it's wise to shop around.
6] And... it comes with a smart white charger (with detachable mini-USB lead) but no manual as seems to be de rigeur these days.
7] To be fair...and prove I am unbiased, it is only fair to mention the fact that the Nexus has a quad core (opposed to dual core) CPU, 0.5Gb more RAM and a newer version of Android (and updates to that will probably be quicker direct from Google). On paper the hardware is more powerful however in my world I have noticed no performance difference - right now I am listening to streamed music on Spotify (now free) whilst reading the excellent pre-installed Flipboard magazine without an issue. I also tried listening to one album on music player, downloading another from amazon and simultaneously playing the ubiquitous Candy Crush with no issues - more than happy with that.
I have recently teamed my Tab with the excellent Manna UltraSlim Case which keeps it well protected and looking fabulous. Connectivity via Bluetooth is excellent - it works seamlessly with my Sony 2.1 Channel HT-CT260 Virtual Surround Sound Bar and my car audio (Ford) too. A StrongVolt POP360 Hands Free Bluetooth Speaker is a must for watching footie in the bath and a Samsung MHL 2.0 HDMI HD TV Adapter is needed for connecting to non-smart TVs via the HDMI port. It also works well with the excellent Google Chromecast which is a more elegant way of streaming selected apps such as iPlayer, YouTube, Netflix and BT Sports etc
This is an amazing piece of kit that I'm discovering new things about every day and by far the best tech item I've bought this year.
** UPDATE 01/07/2014 - The Kitat 4.4.2 update finally arrived and has now been successfully installed **
** UPDATE 02/04/2015 - still going strong almost 18 months in and looking as good as new although the battery life is not as good as before but I do use it frequently more or less everyday **
My first foray into Android was a Kindle Fire HD for my wife, knowing nothing about the OS I took the day while she was out to set up her email etc. Once I saw what it was capable of I decided to get myself a tablet, a Fushion 10" (not recommended), sure the screen was bigger but while on a tour of Curry's I notice how bright and clear this display was, yep impressed. Coming up to my son's birthday I decided to go for this machine and give him my Fushion (he is happy with it).
Quicker boot up than either of the above, especially the Kindle
Slim and easy to hold
Battery life incredible and arrives with a fast charger (shame on Amazon, near £18)
Plenty of free apps, Amazon, Playstore and Samsung apps. I inadvertently selected Spanish when setting up Samsung apps. Their response to my plea for help was to reset to factory settings, yea right, my only moan.
Camera and screenshot great (screenshot off by default, 'settings', 'motion' switch on)
'Smart Stay' so helpful, no need to keep a finger on the screen, just look at it and it will not go into Battery Saver mode.
Buttons you can feel unlike Kindle
Sound is great
The 'virtual keyboard' is alpha-numerical so when it comes to typing in say your wifi password, what a difference.
Oh, It's a good idea to go through Settings, remember the default ones and try to improve your experience of this truly amazing tablet. Don't change them if you're happy with it but I just like to get my 'hands dirty'
I can't fault it.
Buy it and enjoy
Oh, I feel I should add I put in quite a bit of research both online and in stores. The morning came for me to bite the bullet, Amazon had increased the price overnight by £50. Onto Curry's website, £179, reserve and pick up in store (a 5 min. drive). So Amazons greed cost them at least one sale and I think at this time of year quite a few more. As I write this the price on Amazon varies from £189.99 to £209.99. This company has many good points but I feel the position they are in, their prices should be a little below all other retailers.
Update 27th Dec:
Amazon are getting fairly irritating in as much as they are following prices rather than leading them, now £149 (at time of writing). I am going to be doing a lot more reseach before making a purchase with them. I know they monitor all of these reviews and comments but do they care....no.
on 9 September 2013
I'm very pleased with this tablet, having come from a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (last year's range, 7 inch model). That tablet was perfectly fine, but of course the spec has gone up a bit in the intervening time and I wanted a larger screen - there wasn't an 8 inch model in last year's Tab 2 range.
The Galaxy Tabs tend to have solid, mid-market specs which don't necessarily impress the specialist reviewers, but I am finding the screen bright and sharp, with a wide viewing angle and the Tab 3 operates smoothly and quickly enough for me. About the only thing I don't use it for is playing games, simply because I'm not into games, so I can't speak for its performance there, but everything else I've used it for has impressed me. It is of course faster than my Tab 2 7.0 due to the increase in spec (and in fact the Tab 3 8.0 has a higher spec than this year's Tab 3 7.0 too - a faster processor, twice the built-in storage, a higher-resolution main camera with autofocus, higher resolution on the larger screen, and an infra-red emitter for TV etc. remote control). The Tab 3 range has seen some changes to the design, with a style more like the Galaxy S4 phone, including the hard Home button and the capacitive menu and back keys. They also now use a micro USB 2.0 connector with charging facility, replacing the previous wide proprietary connector. The charger is also noticeably smaller.
The Tab 3 8.0 comes with Android 4.2.2 (it seems the Tab 3 7.0 and Tab 3 10.1 are presently still on 4.1.2, having launched earlier, but I expect they'll get updates). A particularly welcome feature on 4.2.2 is the reinstatement of a "lost" feature - you can move your apps onto your external SD card to save device storage, which is great.
The extra screen size is great, giving larger text and icons whilst still looking sharp, and I am impressed by the compactness of the tablet - because of its slim bezels, it is the same width as my old 7 inch Tab 2, so I can still hold it easily with one hand. It is a little bit taller (not much) but considerably slimmer through, and actually lighter than my old Tab 2. This 8 inch model seems the most effectively miniaturised one in the range - the 7 inch Tab 3 is smaller still, but not as much smaller as you'd expect.
I also purchased the Samsung-branded Book Cover for this tablet, in white. I was pleased to find that this has automatic wake and sleep functions, which wasn't mentioned in the item description, nor on the packaging.
Obviously the Galaxy Note 8.0 is the next step up the Samsung range if you want this size screen. It appears to use the same screen, but of course has all the S-Pen stylus functionality, plus a more powerful processor (Exynos 1.6 GHz quad-core versus Exynos 1.5 GHz dual-core), 2 GB of RAM versus 1.5 GB on the Tab 3 8.0 (not 1 GB as currently stated on the item description), and a slightly more powerful battery. The camera spec is the same. The Note 8.0 has Android 4.1.2 at present. It has wider screen bezels than the Tab 3 (which some may find helpful, others might not be bothered) and so is slightly larger and heavier, but isn't currently a lot more expensive than the Tab 3 8.0 because it was introduced a month or two earlier. However, I didn't need the S-Pen and preferred the look and size/weight of the Tab 3 8.0 - plus the current "One, Two, Free" promotion with a free 16 GB memory card in the box and free insurance also helped sweeten the deal a bit.
on 2 March 2014
Context of my review: I am a technically-minded and experienced professional user of Macs and all kinds of iOS devices over the years. Bought this Galaxy Tab as an experiment to see how easy it is to use it as an alternative to an iPad Mini.
I own a MacBook Pro (with Retina Display) and an iPhone 5s. Both are hugely capable machines and I enjoy using them. They're not cheap but they work beautifully. Their operating systems are sleek, clean and easy to use. Synchronisation of information works automatically and reliably via iCloud.
For working in confined spaces, e.g. whilst travelling on trains and planes, I bought an original iPad Mini (without a Retina Display). I kept it for a little while, but found that its usefulness and value compared to my other devices was limited. I couldn't justify keeping such a machine (costing £300 or thereabouts at the time) so I sold it and don't miss it.
I didn't consider an alternative until I stumbled across this Galaxy Tab 3 on Amazon for £160. After a bit of research I found out that some Android apps are available (for less than £6) that allow synchronisation of contacts, reminders and calendars directly with iCloud. Also I knew that I could use XMarks on my MacBook Pro to synchronise my Safari browser bookmarks with Chrome, which would then allow me to have synchronised browser bookmarks on the Tab. So I took a punt and bought the Tab as an experiment to see how useful it is for me as a professional user with technical mindedness.
So I'll limit this review to my findings compared to my experience with using an iPad.
1. Out of the box, the user interface looks cluttered and a little tacky. Nothing like the slick, clean and beautifully designed user interface of iOS7. The default apps are a mix of Android-default and Samsung's own, and there's some duplication between them (e.g. Samsung's own calendar app and the Android calendar app). None of these can be deleted. Fortunately, there's a useful function that allows you to hide unwanted applications. Also there are some display settings to change (amongst other things) font size, font type, and whether to optimise the display for reading. This is considerably more configurable than iOS, and it is possible to greatly improve and customise the main screens from their out-of-the-box configuration. The end result isn't still isn't quite up to the standard of iOS but is pretty good.
2. I love the many widgets available, e.g. calendar views, task views, Google search field, and browser bookmark icons, that can be added to any of the desktop pages. Nothing like this exists on iOS, and they really add to the productivity of the Tab.
3. The settings app takes a little getting used to after coming from iOS7 but its basic design is ok (again, not very slick). The good news is that Android system on this Tab is considerably more customisable than iOS7, e.g.
a. selection of a low power mode to maximise battery life.
b. multiwindow function to allow parallel use of two different apps on screen at the sametime.
c. reading mode for the display, to soften the tint of the screen (especially whites).
d. application manager, where you can see how much processing power and memory each app is using, and then decide to kill it or not.
e. a lock screen where a simple message (e.g. user's name of address) can be added for anyone who finds it (if it gets lost).
All of these and more are great for tech-savvy users of such devices. I can see why Apple does not include them (to keep the system simpler and more appealing to a wider range of users).
4. Even in 'full power mode' with few apps running, transitions between apps, browser pages, browser tabs, application pages, and so on, can be jerky and slow. Nothing like the slickness of iOS7 on an iPhone 5s or an iPad. The Tab hardware has more power and memory than an original iPad Mini, so I guess this problem is caused by the architecture of the software stack. Android sits on top of Linux, and Samsung have their own software on top of Android. I'm guessing that all these layers of software add to the processing grunt needed to operate the system. As a professional user, the lack of slickness isn't really a problem but I can see why iOS is so appealing to the less technically savvy personal user.
5. The default email apps are not useful, unless you want to use only Gmail. Fortunately there are some useful and free 3rd-party email applications which allow several IMAP accounts to be set up and run in parallel, with different sync modes and other preferences between them. Also the choice of folders to use is completely customisable so that Sent, Trash, Inbox, Drafts and Archive folders are completely and correctly synchronised between the Tab, my MacBook Pro and my iPhone. Also it is possible (at least with the email app I used, i.e. 'K-9') to set up and fully use an iCloud email account!
6. The Samsung App store is very limited and I avoid using it. I use only Google's 'Play' App store.
7. The Tab comes with an Office suite called 'Polaris', which works with DropBox and GoogleDrive. I haven't used this app much yet but it looks pretty good.
8. Battery life of the default mode is not up to the standard of an iPad Mini (by several hours) but I guess this is because the Tab is set up by default to cope with games playing and so on. For the type of work I do with the Tab, power-saving mode works just fine and the battery life is considerably improved (approx. to the level of an iPad Mini).
9. I was able to expand its internal memory from 16GB to 48GB simply by spending £15 on a 32GB micro SDHC card. Try doing that with an iOS device...
10. The default Samsung keyboard has some nice features, e.g. numbers at the top of the letters (so no need to switch between number and letter views) but it is cluttered, and the keys are too small to avoid excessive errors. There is an alternative to it from Google, which is downloadable from the Google app store. It works nicely, and is somewhat iOS-like in usage and appearance.
11. Finally, and this is the real golden point for me, the synchronisation of browser bookmarks, iCloud contacts, iCloud tasks and iCloud events does work very well indeed. I have noticed only one minor problem, i.e. some contacts addresses and not synchronised sometimes. Fortunately, email addresses and phone numbers seems to be synchronised properly. Note: the synchronisation isn't only from Apple devices > Tab. The other way works too. I know this because events and tasks which I've created/edited on the Tab are soon created/edited on my Apple devices too. There are two apps necessary for this synchronisation to work, and in total they cost less than £6 on the Play App store.
I said I'd limit the review to the main differences between the Tab and the iPad. Let me just say that things like notifications, 'do-not-disturb' mode, 'control centre' are all available on the Tab. I can print documents directly from my Tab to my Epson XP-610 All-in-One printer/scanner/copier device (just as I can with AirPrint on my iOS devices). There's also an equivalent of Siri, which is just as bad! :)
In conclusion, after a fair amount of customisation and experiments with apps and settings, I now have a tablet device that I enjoy using. It complements my Apple devices very nicely, and works with them seamlessly but costs considerably less. As a professional user, I am very happy and plan to keep it. As a casual personal user, I'd prefer the slickness, simplicity and speed of an iPad.
on 21 November 2013
Brilliant piece of kit. Ive found the 8" just the right size with not heavy. I love it, love it. I usually get about 8 - 10 hours on the battery rather than the 6 hrs as per the spec. You'll need to buy a case because its a slippery little bugger!
on 1 July 2014
I am pretty darn pleased with my purchase. It was at a price that was agreeable and the tablet was a lot more fun to play with than I imagined. The onscreen keyboard is easy to use even if, like me, you tend to fat finger screen UI regularly.
Aside from the few pre installed software items that I could live without I have few complaints. My one even came with an SD card although I had ordered a better one at the same time anyway.
I would recommend getting a screen protector or some good cleaning wipes as the screen quickly becomes quite greasy with repeated touching. I would also recommend getting the free kindle app.
If you buy a case for it get one of the more expensive ones as the cheap ones have proven to be pretty darn near useless.
The battery life is,like most devices in this class, not exactly amazing. That said I can get a day's intermittent use out of it and when travelling putting it into "flight mode" which shuts down the external radio services like bluetooth and WiFi can keep it running for ages.
Available apps from the Google Play Store range from crap to amazing so take the time to read the reviews.
All in all I could not be happier.
Have played with it for about a week now. Overall, much better and reliable than other "no names" Android tablets I have tried and bought before (and returned), even if those had better specifications on paper (quad core CPUs, more RAM etc).
Key positive points:
* Good wifi signal, stable, including 5Ghz band for wireless n
* Excellent screen: very bright, nice viewing angle (so much better than the dim screen from the Nexus 7, 1st version)
* Fast, reactive interface, all touch events seem to be captured. No lags or freezing
* Good form factor, particularly for viewing movies (unlike the iPad Mini, with a different "old TV" ratio)
* Good performance, I haven't noticed any lag or the tablet slowing down when using applications or games (even 3D games). It may only have a 2 core CPU, but makes no real difference to actual performance
* 16GB micro SD card was provided in the box (so a total of 32GB of storage)
* Micro SD card slot for some very cheap storage extension (Apple would charge £50 for an extra 16GB on an iPad mini, while an SD card costs less than £8). Some applications can also be moved to the SD card
* Nice addition to Android from Samsung (including TouchWiz interface): smart stay, different picture application (showing all picasa albums) etc.
* Excellent stand-by and normal battery life
* Slim and good build quality. Looks good (and would impress people)
* Nice stereo sound
* Infrared port to control TVs etc
* Can be charged with a standard micro-USB charger (same charger as most phones, apart from Apple who has decided to ignore the European directive)
* Samsung, being the main seller of Android devices, seems to know how to optimise Android for its hardware. Small Chinese companies don't.
* 2 year warranty provided by Samsung (regardless of retailer)
* With both speakers at the bottom of the tablet, they can be blocked easily. Locating speakers elsewhere (top?) may have been better
* Voucher inside to get free accidental coverage for 2 years, but expired end of October...
* Official case/cover quite expensive
Conclusion: forget the overpriced iPad mini and other "No name" Android 8" tablets, this is very good, and at a reasonable price now (original price was unrealistic). 32GB of storage for £100 less than an iPad mini, and I really wonder what an iPad mini could do that this doesn't.
8" (wide screen, 16:9) is the perfect size/form factor for me, for commuting and using at home. 7" is too small, and 10" is too big to use/carry outside of the house.
No many other tablets have a "wide" form factor, can be charged with micro-USB, have a micro SD card slot (e.g. Nexus range), Bluetooth and Infrared.
on 30 December 2013
Bought this for my mum for her 80th birthday as a replacement to her cheaper version which wasn't responding very well. She loves it and is becoming quite a whiz on it too!
on 23 March 2014
Im very pleased with my samsung tab 3 8" I m not into moden gadgets , being of the older generation , and my main aim was to buy a Tab to skype family abroad, but i have found so much more , its great value for money , i recived it within two days and the seller posted it Free recorded delivery ,So its a great all round good deal for me