If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the EVGA Tegra Note 7 is your best bet. It costs only $200 -- compared to the Note 8's $380 price tag -- and is outfitted with enough features to satisfy those looking to save some cash, while still taking advantage of a stylus interface.
However, you won't have to look too closely to see where Nvidia cut some corners in design. The long, uncomfortable groove along the tablet's right edge -- a space which the screen cover/stand accessory slides into -- the uncovered microSD slot, and the plastic-y cheap feel of its body (despite a rather smooth back), all indicate that while EVGA and Nvidia offer a lot for $200, some sacrifices were made to get to that price.
And that's not to mention the unimpressive 1,280x800 resolution screen that randomly locks itself into a horizontal position, a crappy front camera, and dearth of useful stylus apps.
That said, Nvidia has shown with the Shield that it's quick to address software issues, so I expect some of the issues I've encountered to be cleared up by the time the Android 4.3 patch -- the tablet ships with 4.2.2 -- hits in December.
Though it has a few wrinkles to iron out, the Tegra Note 7 should satisfy most people's craving for an affordable Android Stylus solution.
The EVGA Tegra Note 7 includes both a stylus and a small slot in its bottom right corner to pocket the stylus when its not in use. It's one of those small appreciated details that points to the thoughtfulness behind the tablet's design. However, there's one design detail -- which I'll get to later -- that made me question the company's decision making prowess.
Along the top edge you'll find a power/sleep button, headphone jack, Micro-HDMI port, and a Micro-USB port. On the right edge sits a microSD slot for expanding storage by up to 32GB and below it a volume rocker. On the back, tucked in the right corner is a 5-megapixel back camera and there's a VGA front camera in the middle of the top bezel on the front.
|Tested spec||EVGA Tegra Note 7||Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7||Google Nexus 7 (2013)||Samsung Galaxy Note 8|
|Weight in pounds||0.70||0.66||0.66||0.76|
|Width in inches (landscape)||7.8||7.3||7.8||8.2|
|Height in inches||4.7||5.0||4.5||5.3|
|Depth in inches||0.38||0.35||0.34||0.31|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||0.9||0.6||1.0||0.7|
The Note 7 would likely have been a pretty small 7-inch tablet, but for the two front-facing speakers located on the far left and right bezel when holding it in landscape. There's also a subwoofer tucked beneath the right speaker on the tablet's edge. I'm a sucker for nice-feeling textured backsides on tablet, so the Note 7's soft, leathery back really does it for me in terms of comfort.
As I mentioned above, the design's not perfect and it's the tablet-long groove along its right side that really irks me. The groove acts as a space to insert the cover accessory and that's fine if you're always using the cover. However, if the cover's lost or broken, or you just don't want to use it, then there's no point in the groove being there. If it wasn't so blatantly noticeable, distracting, and uncomfortable when physically touching the tablet, it wouldn't be an issue.
The back has also been magnetized so that the cover can actually stick to, and prop the tablet up. This leads, unfortunately, to the tablet sticking to metal surfaces if placed on them. It's not like it can't be removed with a little muscle, but it's an annoying flaw that frustrates.
Hardware and software features
The Note 7's stylus is longer and slightly heavier than Samsung's pen, but its weight feels balanced and comfortable in my hand. The point is angled in a way that allows you to write very fine, or with a much thicker impression. Also, the point can be screwed off and replaced with an even finer, or thicker, option.
There's a lasso shortcut option ever present on the tablet's software menu that once tapped, allows you to capture any image on the screen by circling it. Similar to the Galaxy Note 8's lasso feature, except the Note 8 takes fewer steps to complete the procedure. You can also enable stylus-only mode where the screen will ignore touches from your fingers. A thoughtful addition, but one that I found to be too easily enabled by accident, leading me to mistakenly thinking the screen was bugging out.