Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview

Introduction and Design

Wow, has it been six months already since the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 was officially announced? Boy, how time flies! Feels like it was yesterday when we checked out the tablet's initial variant at MWC 2012. We said initial since Samsung postponed the device's release so that it could alter its design and specifications, in case you've forgotten.

Instead of the dual-core processor that was initially planned, the Galaxy Note 10.1 now boasts a powerful quad-core Exynos chip, the main camera has been bumped up to 5 megapixels, and last but not least, a slot for the device's S Pen has been added. Yup, you read that right! The tablet is tailored to work with the S Pen, which looks and acts kind of like a stylus, but it is actually a bit more advanced than those obsolete toothpicks. But more on that later!

Now, before we begin our preview, allow us to stress that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 that we have today is a prototype unit. Still, despite the kinks, it works well enough to give us a general idea as to how the finalized version of the tablet will behave, so without further ado, let us fire it up and see what it has to impress us with.


No surprises here, folks. Samsung has chosen to go with plastic for the construction of the Galaxy Note 10.1, which is why the device looks pretty ordinary and won't really make any jaws drop with its appearance. In fact, its design is more or less identical to that of the Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1), save for the addition of an LED flash for the camera on the unit's back and the slot for the S Pen, located on the device's bottom right hand corner.

On the top edge of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 we see the lock key and the 2-button volume rocker. They respond with a nice click when pressed, and since they are well exposed, one can effortlessly find them with a single finger. Also on top reside the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and the slots for the microSD and SIM cards, both of which are protected by easily removable plastic covers. Not to be forgotten is the IR blaster, which allows the tablet to be used as a remote control for TV sets or other home appliances. On the bottom side we see a microphone and Samsung's own proprietary port, which is used for charging and transferring data between the tablet and a computer.

The stereo speakers are located on the front side of the tablet, which is a design choice we quite like. Their placement allows for sounds to be directed at the user, so the upper frequency range is not lost as it is with tablets that have their speakers on the sides or at the back.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 weighs 600 grams (21.6 oz) and has a thickness of 8.9 millimeters (0.35 inches), which are figures typical for today's 10-inch tablets. Still, due to its weight and dimensions, the device has to be held with two hands during prolonged use, unless you have something you can rest it against. Even in portrait mode, the strain on the wrist is a bit too much to bear for a long period of time, which can be annoying if you are on the go and need to write something down using the S Pen.

S Pen:

The S Pen is what makes the Galaxy Note 10.1 special – special in a good way, that is. As we mentioned above, the accessory seems to act as an old-school stylus, but it is actually sensitive to pressure. The harder the S Pen is pressed against the tablet's surface, the bolder the strokes will be when drawing or writing. It may not sound like much, but it makes your digitized handwriting or artwork look a bit more “human”. Besides, Draw Something is much more fun when you have pen-like input at your disposal! There is a button that resides on the side of the S Pen. Holding it down and touching the accessory to the tablet's display takes a screenshot, and double-tapping opens the S Note application.


Samsung has chosen to equip the Galaxy Note 10.1 with one of its very own Super PLS LCD displays. Theoretically, this display technology is superior to IPS LCD due to the increased viewing angles and brightness output, not to mention that the panels are cheaper for Samsung Display to produce.

The screen on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 measures 10.1 inches in diagonal and has a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels (149 ppi), which is nothing out of the ordinary, and far from what one would expect to see on a flagship device. In fact, it is somewhat underwhelming to have a tablet that is meant to suit the needs of digital graphics artists, among other niches of users, and yet sporting a screen with such low pixel density. Nevertheless, when the tablet is held at a sufficient distance, things look smooth enough for the average consumer to be satisfied.

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