It’s no secret that I’ve been excited to review the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 for weeks now. And from my side, there’s no denying reviewing such a pretty gorgeous gadget. After countless leaks, Samsung has taken its time and took the wraps off its new Galaxy Note 10.1, at a special event in NYC.
With more horsepower under the hood – since MWC debut initially — the Note 10.1 has received a slot for that S-Pen, streamlined software, 2GB of RAM for an extra boost of power, and an upgraded quad-core processor. Here’s the Galaxy Note 10.1 Review, read on for more…
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is essentially a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 with a long cavity in the tablet’s upper right corner, which the included S Pen Stylus fits perfectly into.
Weighing only 1.31 pounds (600g), it wears plastic all the way around — and you’ll feel it the instant you pick it up. Not only does the plastic back flex in your hand, but the shiny finish quickly picks up fingerprints and other smudges, belying its faux brushed-metal texture.
It measures at 0.35 x 7.1 x 10.3 inches (8.9 x 180.4 x 261.6mm) only. Well, considering its dimensions have expanded – to initially launched model– it still feels reassuringly light and manageable.
The new Note 10.1, on the other hand, has a list of reasons for tablet buyers to give it a look. First and foremost is the stylus (dubbed S Pen) — fits into a slot at the bottom right of the device – which enables a level of precision that you simply can’t get with a finger. It’s of course comfortable to hold in one hand while you grip the S-Pen in the other.
There’s a button on the side that engages various functions in different apps, but for the most part all of the action is in the tip, which can register 1,024 levels of pressure. Since it is Wacom technology underneath, you can use any Wacom Pen-enabled stylus, which is a nice plus.
As its name depicts, a 10.1-inch (1280 x 800p) WXGA TFT LCD display dominates the front of Galaxy Note 10.1 to look larger. There’s also a quad-core Exynos 4 CPU clocked at 1.4GHz, 2GB RAM, microSD and a huge 7,000mAh battery to keep the experience afloat.
There’s a proprietary charging slot on the bottom edge, a dual-speaker setup flanking the screen and a power button/lock button, volume rocker, microSD slot (supporting cards up to 64GB), an IR blaster (for use with the bundled Peel smart remote app) and 3.5mm headphone jack up top.
Around back, the Note 10.1 is completely blank, showcasing only Samsung’s logo. You will, however, find a silver strip along the upper half of the lid, which houses the 5MP rear snapper (up from 3MP when it was first announced) and a single LED flash. As for the module’s companion 1.9-megapixel front-facer, it sits above the display along with an ambient sensor. Samsung has also brought all the gloriousness of front-facing speakers.
Software, S-Pen & Apps:
As the first major Android tablet release since the Nexus 7, it’s a bit disappointing that the Note 10.1 ships with only Android 4.0 and not Jelly Bean. Though, Note 10.1 now runs a skinned version of Ice Cream Sandwich, now bumped to 4.0.4 and cloaked in Samsung’s TouchWiz UX. You can expect the official Jelly Bean update for the device later this year, thanks to a recent tweet by a certain Roger Cheng.
Samsung’s TouchWiz UX skin is of course included and comes with custom Samsung apps like Music Hub, Media Hub, and Game Hub, a built-in screenshot app, and the Mini Apps tray located on the bottom of the screen.
You’ll also get the most awesome features that the Galaxy S3 had – and has – with AllShare. With this sharing-centric app and set of abilities, you’ll be able to do great things like GroupShare.
It’s with this system you’ll be able to share all of your Samsung devices as one with the cloud-based SugarSync as well. Upload all of your photos and videos automatically for one big party.
We do know, Samsung’s done to optimize the tablet for that S-Pen. From the moment you retrieve the stylus from its in-shell holder, a vertical mini-menu slides out from the screen’s right edge displaying five optimized applications and a settings option. This shortcuts toolbar can is customizable in that you can have a certain app open when you remove the pen from its slot. Right now, only five applications are designed to take specific advantage of this functionality: S Note, S Planner, Crayon Physics, Photoshop Touch and Polaris Office.
With your S-Pen you’ll also be able to do everything the first Galaxy Note is able to and more – with Photoshop Touch you’ll be editing photos and creating your own works of art in no time, and with S-Note you’re going to be sketching at a generous size.
Samsung also bundles in Photoshop Touch, which offers a nice glimpse of the pen’s potential for editing images. It’s the same app available for other Android tablets and the iPad, but it’s really well-suited to the Note, with support for the pressure-sensitive S Pen and lots of filters and effects to play with.
This is the first slate with what Samsung says is “true” multitasking. With a limited set of apps (just six right now), you can actually have two of them running simultaneously, side by side on the screen — a feature called “Multiscreen.”
Want to take notes while you watch a video? The new Galaxy Note can do that for you.
Multiscreen, though, only works with the browser, the video player, the photo gallery, email, S Note and Polaris Office.
Battery and Camera:
Here in the Android tablet universe, it’s actually a bit more difficult to find a slate with terrible battery life than it is to find someone with fabulous battery life. The new Galaxy Note 10.1 runs out of juice in about 6 hours. When used a moderate amount, you’ll certainly have more than a day’s life without issue. If you only use your tablet to take a note here and there as well as to check your email, you can expect several days of battery life.
Again, the Note 10.1 should not be your go-to for photography or at least, not the device you rely on for fleeting moments of inspiration. No, this slate’s rear 5-megapixel module doesn’t handle impromptu image capture with any sense of skill. Also, the tab’s lack of a full HD screen is extremely apparent. Take a tour of more images and video below after the break.
DESIGN: 7 out of 10
DISPLAY: 7 out of 10
CAMERA(S): 5 out of 10
SPEAKERS: 7 out of 10
PERFORMANCE: 5 out of 10
SOFTWARE: 5 out of 1
BATTERY LIFE: 8 out of 10
ECOSYSTEM: 5 out of 10
Price & Availability:
Now the one spec that really matters: the price. The Galaxy Note 10.1 will hit retail shelves tomorrow, August 16th, and will be offered up in 16GB and 32GB WiFi-only configurations priced at $499 and $549, respectively. (There will be more versions, including WiFi+3G and 4G LTE). However this is the price tag that Samsung has officially announced. And UK mobile retailer Clove soon enough listed the device on its website, have a look at the pricing details below.
Prospective owners will be able to choose from two neutral launch colors, grey, blue and white, when it goes on sale this Thursday.
The S-Pen-enabled ICS slate will sell in the U.S., by Aug 16, at Best Buy, HH Gregg, Office Depot, Amazon, and Tiger Direct.
On the other hand, the device is already available for pre-orders in India via Samsung’s official e-store. And it is priced at INR 38,500.
We’ll keep you guys updated when the slate goes on sale worldwide. Stay tuned.
Update: The 16GB WiFi model is already available here.
Update2: The folks over at Engadget just has discovered new Keyboard dock, and cases for the Note 10.1.