By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Barcelona, Spain — Samsung is expanding its Galaxy Note line with an 8-inch Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet, which complements the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet and the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II phablet.
The Note series features an S Pen, or stylus, that lets users annotate pictures and files with handwritten messages, draw pictures on screen, and preview a file or email message without opening it when the S Pen hovers over the file or message. Apps optimized for the S Pen are available.
The Android 4.1.2 model will be available worldwide beginning in the second quarter, including North America.
Key features include quad-core 1.6GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and WXGA 1,280 by 800 IPS touchscreen with 189 ppi. The company will offer a Wi-Fi version and a Wi-Fi plus cellular version. The model launched here features HSPA+21Mbps 4G for use mainly on the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands and foreign 900/2100MHz bands, but an LTE version is likely in the U.S.
Other features include 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, 1080p video playback at 30 fps, stereo speakers, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n with dual-band n, Wi-Fi Direct, AllShare Cast to mirror the tablet’s display on a TV via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, choice of 16GB or 32GB embedded memory, 64GB MicroSD card slot, USB 2.0 and 4,600 mAh lithium-ion battery.
The product also offers traditional cellular voice calling, but the feature won’t be offered in all markets, the company said.
Demand for the Galaxy Note series “took many of us by surprise,” said Shoneel Kolhatkar, product planning director for Samsung Mobile.
The Note 8.0 will also feature a video-discovery service announced last week by Samsung to lets users search for specific TV shows and movies across multiple Internet-video sources and a home’s TV-service provider.
The service is called Discovery TV outside the U.S., but a brand name for the U.S. market hasn’t been finalized. The service will be expanded to additional Samsung mobile devices.
The Note 8.0 will also offer the Premium Suite of feature upgrades made available recently on the 1.4GHz quad-core Note 10.1. The features include upgrading the 10.1’s dual-screen capability to multiscreen capability, enabling users to open and view multiple apps at a time instead of just two apps at a time.
So far, 20 apps have been designed to take advantage of this capability, including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and Google Maps. The tablets support an unlimited number of apps open at once and viewable through windows whose sizes can be changed by the user.
The Note tablets are the industry’s only tablets with multiscreen capability, in contrast with tablets that run multiple apps simultaneously but let users view only one app at a time, the company said.
The premium suite also features Air Clip, which lets users circle part of a picture, web page or map and attach it to an email.
The Note 8.0 is also Samsung’s first Note tablet with Awesome Note feature, which allows for unlimited note taking, including memos, diary entries and must-remember lists.
The 8.0 also comes with a customized version of the Flipboard app, which sends news, social-network, and other feeds to one flappable screen. The customized version lets users preview article headers beneath the screen tiles.
There is a reading mode to optimize the screen for reading e-books.
The Note series is designed for on-the-go, home and enterprise use, the company said. For on-the-go use, for example, the devices feature Samsung’s Media Hub to download and stream movies and TV shows. For home use, the devices let users interact with home entertainment equipment, including DLNA-based AllShare to stream video via Wi-Fi to a TV while the user uses another app on the tablets.
For work, the tablets feature multiscreen display, Air View S Pen hovering, Easy Clip, and Samsung’s SAFE enterprise-grade technology, which supports data encryption on the device and mobile device management by IT departments.
Like before, apps optimized for the S Pen include S Memo, which lets users compile pictures, screen shots, voice recordings, typed text, handwritten notes or drawings into a memo for sharing. A one-step screen-capture function lets users instantly capture any screen for annotation and sharing.
The Shape Match and Formula Match apps correct and digitize geometric shapes and solve numeric formulas hand-written with the S Pen, and the S Note application is integrated with search engines so that content can be obtained and then dragged onto handwritten S Notes without switching between screens.
The S Pen slips into the tablets and, when removed, automatically launches an S Pen-optimized application of the user’s choice.
The two tablets also feature handwriting-to-text conversion.
Other key features of both Note tablets include Smart Stay, which tracks the owner’s eye to ensure the screen is always on while being looked at, and Pop Up Play, which lets a video play anywhere on the screen while other tasks are being used. Other shared features include AllShare Play, which is a Samsung web service that lets users automatically sync content via Wi-Fi and cellular among six devices, including a mix of Samsung mobile devices and client-equipped PCs.
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