Here’s our review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 510 – or 8.0, as it’s called in other territories – for all those of you who are wondering if investing in the new tablet is a good idea. We’re going to take you through all that you can or may want to do on this handsome Android, and you will have hopefully made up your mind about it once you’ve scrolled right down to the bottom.
Box Contents and Design:
We imagine there’s a prim old elf somewhere wrapping up the white Note 510 in its neat little package and signing it off with love. Unboxing the device invokes an inexplicable Christmassy feeling – first there’s the cardboard box-like container (made from 100% recycled paper and printed with soy ink, we like) and then the tablet with the white hued accessories consisting of a travel adapter and a USB cable. You’ll see that Samsung doesn’t sell it with earphones, so buy your own if you don’t already have a suitable pair. We take the slate into our hands and the charm of having torn open a present and discovered a toy inside intensifies due to the very plastic-ky exterior. And then we snap back to reality and think how cheap this makes the body feel. Plastic on a gadget has yet to be molded into a form factor that impresses us. Now we’re merely being shallow here, but with its aluminum finish, the iPad offers a much more premium look as compared to this one.
In spite of the plastic, the tablet is solid in the hands even if the back panel does seem to sink in a bit when you press it. We’re not talking about a firm grip here; you have to press on it with a bit of effort before there’s a perceptible amount of bending at all. The overall design of this slate is not likely to get you any envious stares. The only admiring glances coming your way will probably be from those who think you’re really cool to not care about the fact that you look like an absolute prat with a large phone stuck to your head if you dare to use it as such in public. Yes, the variant we’re reviewing is the voice-calling version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 510. The microSIM slot sits at the bottom of the left border and one for the microSD card is perched above it, about 1.5” away from the top.
The power button and volume controls are on the top right portion of the silver frame and the small black patch below these is the IR blaster which lets the device take on the role of a universal remote controller for your home equipment. And on the bottom left corner, you find a slot for the much hyped S Pen stylus which we’ll be talking about later. The capacitive Menu and Back buttons on the front can be controlled using the S Pen which is more welcome a relief than one can imagine, and something we definitely wish to see in all the S Pen-based gadgets from here on. Flipping the device over reveals quite a bulge on the top portion which is of course the 5MP camera this tablet boasts. No need to scan your eyes further for a flash; the company has decided against the inclusion of one for some odd reason.
You cannot but be impressed by looking at what the Note 510 brings to the table. Grabbing the fairly tried and tested 4.1 version of Android, it automatically qualifies itself for a certain upgrade in the future, considering its maker’s generous support for its long line of Android devices. Voice calling through tablets might slot in as one of the funniest-looking acts to execute, but here in India, it’s in great demand apparently. This little factoid was thrown at us by Anand Dhand, who’s the general manager of the company’s tablet department in the country, at a recent event held in Mumbai. And that’s the reason why the company has decided to go with installing HSPA+ radios on the device for the said market, instead of selling a non-voice-calling version, as it’s doing in the US and other regions.
The TFT display laid on its front surface is a disappointing addition, considering that its resolution is just 1280 x 800 pixels. But the tablet’s smaller screen size ushers in an admirable pixel density of 189ppi, beating the iPad mini by a good 26ppi. Nonetheless, for an 8-inch slab slapped with the price tag this one has been slapped with, the resolution is noticeably low. The Samsung Galaxy Note 510 gains steam from a quad core processor which bears a clock speed of 1.6GHz, while a 2GB RAM has also been granted to it. This neat setup ensures a safe passage for heavy multi-tasking, especially encouraged by its S Pen-based applications. Also, it tips the scales at 345g and measures 210.8mm x 135.9mm x 7.95mm. A 4,600mAh battery and a microSD card slot with support for up to 64GB worth of added storage are some of its other important specifications.
Functionality and Performance:
Now most people we’ve asked don’t really have a quick answer to why they’re buying a tablet. For those who insist on needing it to squeeze out all the productivity they can while on the move, the degree of portability, battery life, connectivity, screen clarity, usability with tools for work and keypad will come on top of the list. Then there are those who like having a ‘big smartphone’ for an enhanced mobile entertainment experience. If you’re one part of this bunch, you’re obviously interested in battery life, connectivity, display quality and volume. Let’s not forget the small batch of people who are just getting a bigger slab than their regular handset to lug around because everyone else is. Here, brand reputation and good looks are undoubtedly of prime importance.
But this S Pen-based series from the South Korean manufacturer has one more target audience to cater to – content creators. That’s when the swanky stylus comes into the picture. The company has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the TouchWIZ UI is properly modified like never before to suit the input of the S Pen. We have all kinds of neat features to revel in, including apps like SNote for quick drawings and Paper Artist for adding nifty effects to your photos. And while you’re using these utilities, there’s one thing you’ll realize to be incredibly valuable. It is the S Pen’s newfound ability to work with the slate’s capacitive Home and Back buttons. This tab also features the AirView tool which gives you small previews of certain content if you hover the stylus over it. A specially built version of the Flipboard social newsreading app is therefore a breeze to extract reports out of.
By letting you place voice calls through the Note 510, the company has gone and done things a bit differently. As awkward as it feels to hold such a huge pad to your ear, it’s a quite a task to find the earpiece and finally start your conversation. Not to mention the heavy muscle-flexing you need to perform in order to get a firm grip on it while on a call. The phone’s functionality is perfectly fine though; so no reasons to complain there, and considering that the Indian market is currently demanding voice calling on almost all such devices – the highly volatile and strange souk that it is – it might work in the company’s favor, who knows. Moving on, the software department has some helpful little additions in the form of Multi Window and Smart Stay, while there’s even a Reading Mode which adjusts the screen brightness to suit the conditions of where you’re reading specific content.
The presence of an IR blaster on the Samsung Galaxy Note 510 means that you can control your TV screens using the tablet if your actual remote is out of batteries or if you’re dog isn’t around to pick it up and bring it you. Truth is, no real efficacy is brought in by this feature, and it was far from perfect when we demoed it, so we’re just going to call it a gimmick. Although we’ll tell you what’s not a gimmick; the Quick Command trait which is a modified version of the one we had seen on the latest smartphone from the series. It allows you to use the S Pen for issuing certain gesture-based commands that save the time spent when you actually manage the tasks manually. Coming to the battery power you can expect to extract out of this machine, we can safely say that it’s one area the tablet really excels in. We put the device through moderate usage while switching between 3G data and Wi-Fi from time to time, and were able to derive roughly up to 12 hours worth of usage time.
The horsepower that the Note 510 delivers with its quad core ticker is commendable, needless to say. Tasks are not at all a load for it to handle. Witness to this observation is its AnTuTu Benchmark score of 16516; a big improvement over the 12443 which was grabbed by its 10.1-inch cousin. You’ll need to see through just about 22 seconds before you can start toying with it once you switch it on. Gaming is slick as well, never really leaving you asking for more. Tablets and cameras have never really gelled together, so affixing this slate with a 5MP snapper may give it an edge over competition. But with a premium tablet which sells for the price it does, is expecting a flash asking for too much? Given the absence of it, night-time photography buffs are bound to be disappointed. Its 1.3MP front facer is like any other 1.3MP front facer, so we haven’t got much to say about it.
– The smoother than ever S Pen experience and the software accompaniments it brings forth are incredible productive
– Its powerful performance is definitely a treat to push to the limit
– Capacitive buttons work with the S Pen
– Using it as a phone is clumsy
– Plastic design is just too basic for a tablet priced so high
– Resolution is not something to drive home about
The Samsung Galaxy Note 510 makes its debut alongside a plethora of other tablets scattered all across the market. It is hence that its ability to make phone calls and its integration of the S Pen technology are bound to be big aspects in determining its sales. Like we said, the S Pen gives the tablet some really neat functionalities that you can exploit. The phone attribute works fine, but it’s incredibly clunky to hold such a big machine to your ear. At Rs 31,400, it’s a dicey one to call, but in contrast to its close competitor, the iPad mini, it does feature enhanced attributes, if you’re willing to overlook its unimpressive plastic design. Our shout is a 3.5 out of 5 for this one.