There's been a lot of hubbub around the Note 8.0 leading up to MWC, and this morning, we finally got a chance to go hands-on with Samsung's newest slate. The early verdict? It's... an Android tablet with an S-Pen and Samsung software.

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In that sense, the Note 8.0 seems like a smart move. People love the Note II, but the Note 10.1 may be too large a step up for a lot of folks (I personally don't like 10.1" tablets). The Note 8.0 is going to occupy that 'tweener' space, and I think it'll do a fairly good job. The 8.0 may well be the nicest small(ish) Android tablet I've held in terms of ergonomics, and that's probably due to Samsung's gratuitous use of lightweight, flimsy plastic. That said, the weight savings are readily apparent - the Note 8.0 weighs just a hair less than the Nexus 7, despite having a screen an inch larger, and a battery with a capacity nearly 300mAh greater. You can't argue with the numbers on that one, and this could make the Note 8.0 a seriously attractive device.

The low point of the Note 8.0 is undoubtedly the display - while the TFT LCD panel looks fairly good straight on, viewing at even a slight angle drops the effective brightness dramatically. This could be a significant drawback for those who do a lot of reading on their tablet. The Note 8.0 also has an S-Pen, and the touch panel is made by Wacom, so you get the full stylus functionality of its larger and smaller siblings.

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As far as using it, the Note 8.0 was very responsive, and has added a much-needed feature: the S-Pen now works with the menu and back buttons. This is one of my major gripes about the Note II's stylus functionality, so it's good to hear Samsung knows this was an issue. The lightness of it is what really stuck with me, though - the argument for an 8" tablet at that weight, with relatively thin bezels, is compelling. We took a Quadrant benchmark, as well, and the results were pretty typical for the Exynos 4 chipset.

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The Note 8.0 is packing a 1.6GHz quad-core processor (Exynos 4, we're assuming), 2GB of RAM (yet another win over the Nexus 7), 8" 1280x800 LCD display, a microSD slot, 5MP rear camera, 3G connectivity (with phone capability), and a 4600mAh battery. Pricing hasn't been announced, and neither has a Wi-Fi version (which is probably what we're getting in the US), but we'd expect that info soon - the Note 8.0 is launching in the first half of the year.