Since the introduction of the stylus, Samsung attempted to do something different with their full size tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. The S Pen as their stylus is known has its own advantage on certain apps and it definitely improves speed when taking notes and precision while navigating around. Also, if you have the will to learn most of the gestures, you can get a really exciting interface experience. Unfortunately this is most likely destined for those with a speck of an artistic touch. If you simply like to type your notes then the S Pen won’t be much use to you here. Fortunately the large display that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with is highly “finger friendly” so if you don’t feel like swiping around with the S Pen you can do it the old fashion way with your fingers.
As for design, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is very similar to the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 so if you’ve made contact with the Galaxy Tab you’ll know what to expect from the Note 10.1. In appearance the two tablets are highly similar with only a couple of physical related differences. First of all the Note 10.1 comes with only black and white opposed from the original gray of the Tab 2. It also comes with a wider bezel but overall it’s a bit thinner and it’s also a bit heavier than the Galaxy Tab 2. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with two cameras, a 1.9 MP one and a 5 MP one on the back. This is an improvement compared to the 3 MP sensors on other Samsung slates.
The S Pen, as valuable as it may be for some, has unfortunately received an unpractical holding space positioned on the bottom right corner. First of all the pen can easily fall of the tablet when you’re moving about with the tablet and secondly, it is very tricky to remove the pen while the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 sits on a docking station. This isn’t such as major unpardonable design flaw, it’s just a bit unpractical and a weird place to put your pen.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with the Android 4.0.4 OS which is the latest one just under the 4.1 Jelly Beam upgrade. Fortunately it can be upgraded to JB. One of the cool interface factors is the introduction of the TouchWiz interface on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Even better, Samsung has dropped some of the annoying elements leaving the interface with a more natural, quieter look. One of the greatest benefits of this user interface is the introduction of the mini apps tray which now can be a bit customized as well. This way you can easily launch apps and even better, deploy the Task Manager to kill apps and free your RAM which makes it the best addition in the tray.
There are some programs deployed especially for the S Pen, but those need a lot of time and patience to learn. The writing to text component can be useful, that is of course if you manage to turn it on because we had a few shouts, yells and a couple of tears until we got to activate it.
As for performance Samsung really made the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 extremely fast. The 1.4 GHz quad core Exynos processor is more than enough to power up most ultraportable laptops on the market, not to mention a tablet. The 2 GB of RAM aren’t making the tablet slower either. With this kind of hardware under the bonnet you can easily launch multiple apps and even delight yourself with the Multiscreen feature. This nifty thing will allow you to launch and play with two apps simultaneously on the same screen. The apps that can be launched simultaneously are limited (naturally) but are enough to help you speed up your work. For instance you can navigate the web on one side of the screen and take notes on the other side.
Performance wise, there is no way you will experience any sort of hardware lag from the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Whether you’re playing with your S Pen, navigating through menus, switching between opened apps, the speed is unbelievable. The Note 10.1 can go against basically every other tablet on the market when talking of processing speed (iPad included). The only shuttering appeared when you are scrolling through pages. This was a bit disappointing considering that the Tegra 3 can deliver uber-smoothness in this area.
While the display is simply gorgeous, we must admit that the 1280 x 800 resolution (while more than enough for day to day activities) was a bit low considering that this was an creative oriented tablet which relies heavily on the stylus and the Photoshop apps installed. For instance, compared to the Asus Transformer Infinity that is sporting a 1900 x 1200 resolution, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a bit shallow.
All that aside, as a Samsung tablet the Galaxy Note 10.1 is probably the best tablet Samsung ever delivered on the market.
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