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We spent some time with the latest Note, an 8-inch tablet, at this year's Mobile World Congress and came away more impressed by it than we were by the Note 10.1. That was before we heard about the price, though—the Galaxy Note 8.0 starts at $399, which is $70 more than Apple's iPad mini and twice as much as the cheapest Nexus 7.

The Note 8.0's stylus and software has quite a few useful features that its competition lacks, but the price is difficult to swallow. We'll try to figure out whether the Note's features justify their cost.

Body and build quality: Still plastic, but better

The Galaxy Note 8.0 looks like a giant Samsung smartphone. This assessment applies to the layout of the device's buttons—a physical Home button flanked on the left and right by capacitive Menu and Back buttons—as well as its general feel. Just as with the Galaxy S III or S 4, the Note 8.0 is constructed entirely of a lightweight plastic, which helps keep the weight down but contributes to a "cheap" feeling that we've complained about in the past, especially compared to the aluminum body of something like the iPad lineup.

That said, the tablet's construction does feel better than the larger Galaxy Note tablet, which was made of plastic that bent and flexed unsettlingly easily. The Note 8.0 is a bit creaky, but it feels more solidly built than its bigger brother.

Our biggest complaint about the tablet's construction is the smooth, plastic back, which doesn't provide much of a grip. The lightly texturized back of the Nexus 7 or Nexus 10 is a bit easier to hold on to, especially when using the tablet one-handed.

The physical size of the tablet is slightly larger in every dimension than the iPad mini, owing partly to its slightly larger screen (8.0 inches, compared to 7.9) and its thicker bezels. It's also a bit heavier than Apple's smallest iPad, at 0.75 pounds instead of 0.68 pounds. The tablet is still much easier to hold in one hand than are 10-inch tablets, but both the iPad mini and the Nexus 7 are smaller.

The Note 8.0 (left) is slightly larger than the Nexus 7 (right), but the two are still playing in the same ballpark.

The power button, volume rocker, and IR blaster are on the tablet's right edge.

A headphone jack is the lone port on the top of the tablet.

A microSD card slot on the tablet's left side allows for up to 64GB of extra storage.

The speakers and micro-USB port on the bottom of the tablet.

There's a 5MP camera on the back of the tablet, but no LED flash.

One area where the Note 8.0's hardware outdoes the iPad mini is in screen resolution—it has the same 1280×800 resolution as the Galaxy Note 10.1, but that resolution is much more flattering on this smaller screen. At 189 ppi, it sits right in between the iPad mini's 163 ppi and the Nexus 7's 216 ppi. The screen itself is bright and has good viewing angles, though by default the auto-brightness setting always seemed just a bit too dim. Its colors are also a little brighter and more saturated than in the Nexus 7's screen.

The Note 8.0 has a pair of small stereo speakers on its bottom edge—they're both louder and of better quality than the single speaker on the Nexus 7, but they're easily blocked if you're holding the tablet in landscape mode (as you would normally do when watching a video). As in most phones and tablets, you'll want to bring your headphones.

The tablet's 5MP rear-facing camera is located in the same place as it is on many of Samsung's phones—in the middle, toward the top. It actually bulges out from the back of the tablet a bit, which can make the Note wobble slightly if it is laid flat on a table. The quality of the camera is about what we've come to expect from most tablets—passable if the tablet is all you have with you, but generally inferior even to last year's smartphones. It also lacks the LED flash that you'd find on something like the Galaxy S III. While the front-facing camera produces low-resolution images with a fair amount of noise, it is nonetheless suitable for video chatting—the people on the other side of the conversation will be able to tell that you're a human, and that's generally all that's required.

The Note 8.0 takes serviceable snapshots in indoor lighting.

However, even the year-old Galaxy S III takes crisper pictures with more vibrant colors.

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