Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review: The Pen Sets This Android Tablet Apart
With the absolution of Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 Wi-Fi tablet, the admirable stylus takes centermost stage, ambience this avant-garde slate afar from the book masses. On Wednesday, Samsung acutely announces this Wi-Fi-only 10.1-inch book with prices that alpha at starting at $500 up to $550. The book goes on auction Thursday. For the accomplished few canicule I've been testing the Galaxy Note 10.1 Wi-Fi. Admitting the book has some asperous edges and one audacious blank as configured--it lacks a high-pixel-density display--Samsung has put calm a solid aerialist with extensive appeal.
The standout affection of Samsung's latest alms is the S Pen, which opens a new ambit of functionality and creativity, acknowledgment to Samsung's preloaded software and Android tweaks. Since the book was alien at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Galaxy Note's specs accept changed. Six months ago, Samsung said that the Note 10.1 would backpack a dual-core CPU and 1GB of memory, and accept centralized accumulator of up to 64GB. For its final release, though, Samsung has bumped the Note 10.1's processor to a quad-core Samsung Exynos with 2GB of arrangement memory, authoritative it the aboriginal aircraft book I've activated with that abundant RAM. Gone is the 64GB centralized accumulator option; instead, the Note 10.1 comes in 16GB ($499) and 32GB ($549) versions, abundant by up to 64GB via MicroSD card.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 has a characteristic but not abnormally high-end look. It ships with either a white or aphotic gray artificial aback and analogous bezel, with argent plastics accents about the edges. It's neither the thinnest nor the lightest book on the market, but it compares accurately on these specs to added slates in its admeasurement class. It measures 10.3 by 7.1 by 0.35 inches, and it weighs 1.31 pounds--the aforementioned weight as the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 but acutely beneath than the third-generation Apple iPad (1.44 pounds).
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is advised primarily to be captivated angular in two hands, with the front-facing 1.9-megapixel camera centered aloft the display, and stereo speakers army on either side. Aback I captivated the book with both hands, I tended to accumulate my easily against the basal edges, which meant that my fingers didn't arrest the speakers. Aback I captivated the book vertically, however, the audio articulate a bit skewed.
Pen Takes Centermost Stage
Along the tablet's top bend (when captivated in accumbent mode) is the ability button and aggregate rocker, a athletic accessory accoutrement the MicroSD agenda slot, an bittersweet anchorage for use with an HDTV, and a headphone jack.
One chic accession is a aperture that houses the included S Pen. Samsung will accomplish several after-market pen options accessible as well, but the included pen is beyond than its Galaxy Note buzz cousin. I adopt the thicker butt of the alternative S Pen Holder Kit, but the one that comes with the book was absolutely advantageous for accidental use. Accepting the pen's comatose abode neatly tucked into the book makes the pen always added advantageous than a abstracted stylus could anytime be.
Though I didn't acquisition myself extensive for the pen frequently, it was acceptable and I acclimated it added generally than I had accepted to. I admired accepting the advantage to alter my ascribe amid my fingers and the stylus, and I accepted how the S Pen afflicted the way I approached demography bottomward notes, annotating files, and abstraction out diagrams or formulas. Students, artists, designers, scientists, and added specialists will acutely annual from the pen, but its annual transcends those niches and should address to accidental book users of all stripes.
The S Pen in Action
Samsung's S Pen is based on a Wacom's pressure-sensitive technology. The pen acquainted awful responsive, with little lag and with chip palm-rejection--a advantageous abundance affection that capacitive-touch styluses can't provide. In the new tablet, Samsung has decidedly bigger on the aboriginal Galaxy Note phone's burden sensitivity, alms 1024 levels of sensitivity, compared with the original's 256 levels. The Galaxy Note 10.1 pen's apprehension ambit is better, too, at 14mm against the Galaxy Note buzz pen's 8mm.
With the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung offers its best tailored OS and locked-and-loaded app alternative yet. Samsung ships the Note 10.1 with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich on board. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will come, according to Samsung, by the end of the year.
Like added Samsung devices, this book is not for Android purists. Best of the overlays and modifications accomplish for a friendlier experience, admitting accepting assorted paths to accomplishing the aforementioned affair can sometimes be added ambagious than helpful. In particular, I bound annoyed of the pop-up annual launcher that runs forth the basal of the screen, artlessly because it was accessible to barrage accidentally.
TouchWiz and Few Sour Notes
The Galaxy Note 10.1 hosts the best extensive TouchWiz (Samsung's custom blow user interface) check of the Android OS I've apparent on any of its tablets. Amid the tweaks: It replaces such basics as the Settings card and the blueprint of the Notify launcher. The Notify launcher adds new options to absolute menus. The alterations accord you added ascendancy over abounding options, but at the amount of sometimes abashing the interface. Also gone is the banal Android keyboard, in favor of a Samsung keyboard featuring fair buttons with atramentous letters, and a committed cardinal row.
Bizarrely, Samsung has hobbled the Galaxy Note 10.1's abundance abeyant by not acceptance you to attach files to approachable Gmail messages. The alone adapter advantage there is for the Gallery, which agency that you can't booty addendum (or actualize a certificate in the Polaris Office app) and again accelerate it via your Gmail annual anywhere else.
Another acrimony involves Samsung's new ability settings. You get them, but I'm not assertive that anyone would anytime accept a acceptable acumen to abate the screen's anatomy amount and lower its accuracy at the aforementioned time. Also, the Smart Stay affection is amid beneath the Affectation options and not amid the power-saving settings, alike admitting this affection uses the advanced camera to ensure that you're still application the tablet, and it should accumulate the accuracy up.
Finally, and best egregiously, Samsung takes an advancing access to automatically concealment the affectation aback the array drops to 5 percent remaining. Samsung doesn't let you acclimatize the accuracy aback up to accustomed if you wish; and the bargain akin of accuracy it all-overs to is so low that the black angel you get is about abortive for viewing, authoritative the amount of the added 30 account or so of array activity that you get in this accompaniment awful dubious.
And Now the Aerial Notes
Many of the software enhancements that I abnormally admired are appearance that accent multitasking on the tablet.
Some of my admired additions were alien on the Samsung Galaxy S III phone. Topping my account are the resizable pop-up video amateur (which launches a video in a abstracted bury window that you can abode anywhere on the screen), and the dual-screen advantage that Samsung has enabled for side-by-side views. Currently, the dual-screen approach is accessible for aloof six apps: Samsung's own built-in S Agenda app, Web browser, and video player; a Note-enhanced adaptation of Polaris Office; and Google's Gallery and email apps.
This different dual-screen ability, dubbed "Multiscreen" by Samsung, offers the abutting approximation to Windows and to accepting assorted windows accessible at the aforementioned time that I've apparent on an Android tablet. Samsung's accomplishing is a kludge: You charge use the S Pen to baddest the agreeable you demand to copy, again booty a screenshot of it, and again cut the agreeable from its aboriginal antecedent and annoyance it over to the app on the added screen. Thus, for example, if you're demography a account from the Samsung adaptable Web browser and pasting it into a Polaris Office document, this affection may force you to airing through at atomic alert as abounding accomplish as would be appropriate to accomplish the aforementioned aftereffect in Windows. Nevertheless, I accepted Samsung's accomplishment to accomplish Android feel added developed and applicable for abundance use.
As acclaimed earlier, the Galaxy Agenda 10.1 has a 1.4GHz Exynos quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. The added arrangement anamnesis helps with multitasking, according to Samsung, but it may additionally advice addition appliance performance. In particular, I noticed that the Google Gallery performed bigger on the new book than on antecedent Ice Cream Sandwich-based Samsung efforts: The Gallery was added responsive, with little lag aback apprehension high-resolution images. But whether this advance is due to Samsung's adaptation of Android 4.0, to the Samsung Exynos processor, or to the added anamnesis is unclear.
The Galaxy Agenda 10.1 excelled in our lab tests, ambience new bests for cartoon achievement amid Android tablets, and for Web browsing beyond all tablets. On two amount tests from GLBenchmark 2.1.4, the Agenda 10.1 was far and abroad the best Android book we've activated to date, logging 99 frames per additional on Egypt Offscreen and 125 fps on Pro Offscreen. That's a ample advance over the abutting abutting Android tablet, the Nvidia Tegra 3-based Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700, which captivated the antecedent aerial Android marks of 74 fps on Egypt Offscreen, and 96 fps on Pro Offscreen. The Apple iPad charcoal at the top of the cartoon achievement heap, though, with analysis array of 139 fps and 234 fps, respectively.
Battery activity for the new Galaxy Agenda was middling. It captivated out for 8 hours, 24 account during video playback at a accuracy ambience of 200 candelas, outlasting comparable-size Nvidia Tegra 3 models but falling far abbreviate of the 10-plus hours acquaint by the iPad and the Google Nexus 7.
The browser tests included our own custom page-load test, in which the Galaxy Agenda 10.1 excelled, acute aloof 7.6 abnormal to load, against 11.6 abnormal for the Acer Iconia Tab A700. And the Galaxy Agenda 10.1 accursed through the SunSpider analysis in 1.2 seconds, against the Google Nexus 7's 1.7 seconds. As with the Google Gallery, the browsing analysis achievement after-effects may reflect the tablet's centralized guts, or it could be due to the software--in this case Samsung's own Web browser, which differs from the banal Android browser.
Digging Into the Display
The Galaxy Agenda 10.1's affectation was both a disappointment and a surprise. The affectation has a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, the aforementioned as displays on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and the Toshiba Excite 10 LE. That agency no high-pixel body accuracy or detail for argument or graphics, as you'd acquisition on the Acer Iconia Tab A700, the Apple iPad, and the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700.
Nevertheless, Samsung has done article with this book abaft the scenes to addition its affectation performance. Image accurateness and blush are badly bigger than in the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 2, and the accurateness and detail of my high-resolution images in the Google Gallery came abutting to analogous what you'd acquisition on a high-pixel-density display. Also, admitting best Android tablets attempt with bark tones, the Galaxy Agenda 10.1 produced some of the best astute bark tones I've seen. Argument accuracy was bigger than on the bottomless Galaxy Tab 2, but it couldn't authority a candle to what you'd get on one of the high-pixel-density displays.
Samsung Adds New Custom Apps
Samsung includes bags of new apps of its own creation. Best notable amid them is the S Agenda app, which is advised for agenda taking, sketching, autograph formulas, and assuming handwriting-to-text conversions in affiliation with the S Pen. You additionally get customized music and video players, and a customized adaptation of Google Gallery that adds face-detection tagging (also apparent on the Galaxy S III phone). A bona fide assignment administrator is now chip into the afresh acclimated apps pop-over. And you can calmly allotment agreeable from the book with a TV or with added book users via new allotment options.
Among the preloaded apps are Barnes & Noble Nook, Netflix, Dropbox, and Peel Smart Remote. As a bonus, you get Adobe's Photoshop Touch app, a $10 amount that works able-bodied with S Pen input. Even admitting Samsung scaled aback on its pen-specific apps from the accumulating that it showed beforehand in the year, the Galaxy Agenda 10.1 allowances essentially from the austere accomplishment that Samsung has put into amalgam software with the pen capability. Added book makers accept added pens after acclamation the software component, and in those cases the pen comes beyond as an afterthought, not an basic aspect of application the tablet.
Regrettably, the alternative of S Pen apps in Samsung's own S Suggest adviser was paltry at this writing; and abounding of the ones accessible were optimized for buzz screens, not for twice-as-large book screens. Hopefully, Samsung will animate added app developers to get on-board with S Pen support, and acknowledge Galaxy Agenda 10.1-specific apps in the S Suggest guide. Only again will the S Pen advantage accomplish its potential.
The Samsung Galaxy Agenda 10.1 lacks one aggressive blueprint that added top-tier tablets--specifically the Acer Iconia Tab A700, the Apple iPad, and the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700--have at the aforementioned or a bottom price: a high-pixel-density display. Samsung's apprehension enhancements advice abate the bite of that blank somewhat; but the aberration charcoal clear, decidedly with text-heavy content.
On the added hand, aback you agency in the accessible stowaway S Pen and Samsung's pen-optimized software, the Galaxy Agenda 10.1 enjoys an bend all its own. Add to that its solid performance, and the Galaxy Agenda 10.1 is absolutely aback in the mix amid top-of-the-line tablets.