Born as a love child of the Samsung GALAXY Note and the GALAXY Tab 2 10.1, we first spotted the Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 at MWC. Well, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has finally arrived and it improves on the original Note smartphone with a more responsive S Pen. As a matter of fact, the S Pen on the Note 10.1 is able to recognize up to 1,024 levels of pressure, while the S Pen on the note can only recognize up to 256 pressure levels.
And hey, is white becoming the new black for tablets? Not only does the Samsung Note 10.1 remind us of the HTC Flyer because of its S Pen, but its design is pretty similar too. As a matter of fact, we’re seeing a white / silver color scheme show up on more and more Android tablets, including the Archos Gen10 XS tabletthat we just reviewed. In any case, the Note 10.1 measures 10.1″ by 7.1″ and weighs a bit on the hefty size at 1.31 pounds.
As for the GALAXY Note 10.1’s display, the 10.1″ WXGA display on the Note 10.1 is pretty good with vivid colors and deep blacks, and it sports good viewing angles too. Unfortunately, the 149 ppi hardly makes it a retina competitor. All in all it’s a very good display, just not a leading tablet display. We would have also liked it better if the Note 10.1 was sporting a resolution of 1920 x 1200.
You have to hand it to Samsung for adding a series of neat multitasking features to the Note 10.1. Multitasking tricks like these can not to be found on any other Android tablets, and to the Galaxy Note 10.1’s credit, they work quite well. For example, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is able to run two apps at a time, side by side. Samsung is calling this feature Multiscreen, and it’s compatible with a select number of apps, including the S Note app, the internet browser, video player, email app, and more.
It’s a bit of a shame that Multiscreen is limited to certain apps for the split screen function to work, but it’s still a very neat option to have, especially since you’re using a 10″ display which can really accommodate using 2 apps side by side. Samsung has also extended the multitasking capabilities of the Note 10.1, by bringing over the Popup Play feature that was first introduced in the Galaxy S III. Popup Play lets you play a video in a pop-up window, while working in other apps.
Furthermore, when it comes to software, Samsung has bundled lots of useful apps to take advantage of the S Pen’s capabilities. That includes a version of Adobe Photoshop Touch that has been optimized to use with the S Pen. Other bundled apps that take advantage of the S Pen are S Note, S Planner, Crayon Physics, and Polaris Office. S Note features functions like Shape Match which auto-corrects shapes, and Formula Match which solves handwritten math equations. Unfortunately, other features like handwriting to text recognition in S Note often struggle to be accurate.
Under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is running on a 1.4GHz Exynos Quad-Core Processor and 2GB of RAM. In Quadrant, the Note 10.1 earned a very good benchmark score of 5346, indicating that it performs even faster than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 .
And like with the Sony Tablet S, Samsung has also transformed the Galaxy Note 10.1 into a massive universal remote. They have managed this by including a built-in infrared transmitter which is complimented by the Peel Smart Remote app.
There is no question about it, as far as offering a capitative Android tablet with a stylus, the Note 10.1 is pretty much the only tablet worth considering. But that is also in part due to the fact that the competition is weak in this space. All In all, even though it’s not quite our dream tablet, there is a lot to like about the Note 10.1. When it comes down to it, the inclusion of the S Pen throws a whole new dimension of fun into interacting with your tablet. And if you’re an artist who hates to be far from a drawing tool, than the Galaxy Note 10.1 with its S Pen is pretty much the best tablet option for you. At least for now.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is available in in a choice of white or dark gray for $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and $549 for the 32GB model. The system comes running Android 4.0, but Samsung says that an update to Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) is imminent.
The Good: The S Pen is a lot more responsive than the one on the original Galaxy Note, Shape match function works well, features unique multitasking features, offers very fast performance, comes with plenty of apps to take advantage of the S Pen – including Adobe Photoshop Touch, speakers are quite powerful, good battery life, more S Pen apps should be on their way, doubles as a universal remote control
The Bad: Handwriting to text recognition still needs work, display doesn’t wow us, Camera photos are just ok, no HDMI out
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