Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Review
After the success of its original Galaxy Note smartphone, Samsung decided to bring the features of this new smartphone to a tablet. It made sense, seeing that the tablet form factor is more ideal when it comes to replicating the paper & pen experience. Eventually, we ended up seeing the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, a tablet that differentiated itself from Sammy’s very own Tab series, with its S Pen functionality. Being unique in the space, the tablet seemed to be underpowered in the specs department when compared to its rivals at the time – like the iPad 3 and Asus Transformer Prime.
Over a year later, we’re finally seeing its successor in the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Seriously, Samsung didn’t mess around this time with the Note 10.1 2014 Edition, as it boasts an impressive specs sheet over its predecessor. Sporting a totally new design and one heck of a sharp looking display, the new Note 10.1 also sees some added functionality to its S Pen as well. However, it’s still going to compete against other prized tablets in the space right now – such as the Samsung made Google Nexus 10 tablet, which continues to be one of the tablets to beat.
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall Charger
- S Pen replacement tips
- Quick Start Guide
- Product Safety and Warranty Guide
Whereas the original Note 10.1 looked very much like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets, this 2014 version looks and feels entirely different – in a good way too. Gone is the glossy plastic casing from before, and instead, it’s replaced by a faux leather casing that gives it a more sophisticated look. On top of that, there are other design accents, like the stitching around the rear and the silver trim bezel, which complements the tablet’s overall design. As much as we appreciate the new changes in its choice of materials, it still feels rather plasticy at heart, and in a way, it doesn’t drastically depart from the traditional design characteristics we see constantly from Samsung’s camp nowadays. Regardless of that, it has all the elements to still make it an appealing looking thing – like its slim 0.31” thin profile and lightweight feel in the hand.
Not surprisingly, the Note 10.1 2014 Edition looks just like the new Note 3 smartphone, but a lot bigger in size of course. Knowing that too, it shouldn’t surprise people that it’s sporting the same flush home button as its sibling, which is surrounded by the usual capacitive back and menu keys. Above the display, we spot its light sensor and front-facing 2-megapixel camera.
Looking around the trim, it’s sporting the usual set of buttons and ports we commonly expect to find. Along the top trim, we have the slightly raised power button and volume control, which have subtle responses when pressed – while towards the middle, there’s an IR blaster that turns the tablet into a universal remote. On its left and right sides, we have its dual speakers, 3.5mm headset jack, slot for the S Pen, and microSD card slot. Finally, the microUSB port is smacked right on the middle section of the bottom trim, with a pin sized hole for the microphone not too far away. Around the back, there’s an 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with an LED flash, which is enabled for 1080p video recording.
In typical fashion, the Note 10.1 2014 Edition wields an updated S Pen stylus – something that continues to be unique amongst Android powered tablets. Appearing more pencil like with its shape, we’re able to sufficiently grasp onto it thanks to its lengthiness, and when it’s not in use, it happily gets tucked away discretely inside of its slot.
Just like before, the S Pen here with the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is pressure sensitive – enabling it to precisely know how much pressure is being applied. Therefore, strokes will have either more/less emphasis depending on how much pressure is applied. Additionally, the S Pen works in conjunction with the tablet’s various Air View functions – something that comes in handy with the web browser. Although it doesn’t entirely replicate the pen/pencil & paper experience to the teeth, it’s as close as we can get with a tablet.
As we’ve mentioned, there are some “advanced” functions with this update S Pen. First, the Note 3 recognizes when it’s removed/inserted from its slot. Secondly, there’s a new feature with the S Pen called “Air Command,” which then allows us to gain access to some additional new functions we’ll expand upon later in the review. And lastly, for those who somehow have a knack for losing stuff inexplicably, there’s also an alert that notifies us when we’re too far away from the S Pen – reminding us that the S Pen isn’t in its slot.
The display on last year’s Note 10.1 was disappointing to say the least, seeing that its resolution wasn’t terribly impressive. Fortunately, Samsung blesses the 2014 Edition with an amazing 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 Super Clear LCD display, which comes out to having a pixel density of 299 ppi – matching the Nexus 10 display to the teeth. This time, we have no complaints about details, as it produces plenty of sharp visuals with everything that’s put up on screen.
Furthermore, we’re somewhat taken back by the iridescent glow of this display. Honestly, we believed it was an AMOLED panel at first glance, seeing that colors have that over-saturated tone. Viewing angles are good, but we notice that milky tone with the color black at wide angles. Despite that, we’re happy to report that the screen is still visible outdoors when the sun is present. Overall, we’ll say that this is one amazing looking display – a staggering upgrade over its predecessor!