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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review

Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1

Posted: , posted by John V.

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Interface:

Looking beyond the usefulness surrounding the Galaxy Note 10.1's S-Pen features, the software experience isn't particularly new, as it's running the company's tailor-made TouchWiz UX interface on top of Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. Honestly, it doesn't depart in the visual front from previous TouchWiz efforts that we've seen, however, it carries some noteworthy additions. Before we expand on them, the actual core Android experience is soundly intact – meaning, it coughs up the personalization elements we're accustomed to seeing.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review

Employing software features such as Smart Stay, Share Shot, Buddy Photo Share, all of which have been key items found with the Galaxy S III, it lacks the useful S-Beam feature – mainly because the tablet lacks NFC. As a whole, the interface is simply enough to navigate and comprehend, but its visual presentation is on the cartoony side. For those wondering, Samsung plans to have Jelly Bean ready sometime before the end of the year.

Once again, the Mini Apps tray makes an appearance, which offers some multitasking elements to the mix. Obviously, it's great that they are overlaid on top of whatever we're doing, but its limited selection is by far its biggest disadvantage. Sure, it's great we can browse the web while checking out email simultaneously, but how often are we going to be using the alarm clock, calculator, or task manager?

Mini Apps tray - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
Multitasking - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review

Mini Apps tray

Multitasking


Similarly, there's the new Multiscreen feature that's available to select applications – these include the web browser, Polaris Office, S Note, Video Player, Gallery, and Email. To tell you the truth, it's basically having the Microsoft Windows experience on the tablet, seeing that the screen splits into two, which allows us to interact with two specific apps simultaneously. Again, there are practical uses for this, but it tends to bog down the tablet's performance. Even more, the limited apps compatible to work with the Multiscreen feature prevents it from truly being a sought out must-have feature. Then again, it's still nice seeing it.

Functionality:

Looking through the usual barrage of organizer apps on board with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, like the Alarm, Calculator, S Planner, or Email apps, there's nothing terribly new found with any of them. Indeed, they're all optimized for tablet usage, as they employ typical paneled layouts that better increases productivity.

Organizer apps - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
Organizer apps - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
Organizer apps - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review

Interestingly, Samsung has opted to provide us with more options with the tablet's on-screen keyboard. Even though buttons may be a bit tiny in size with the full-screen option, we do appreciate its responsiveness and the extra row for numbers – though, we would've liked to see some additional punctuation thrown in with the main layout. Alternatively, we're also given the option to use either the floating or split style keyboards. Between the two, we find the split type to be more practical, as our fingers don't have to stretch as much to reach something.

On-screen keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
On-screen keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
On-screen keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
On-screen keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
On-screen keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
On-screen keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review


S-Pen Software:

To no surprise, the S Note application comes pre-installed on the Galaxy Note 10.1. After spending quite some time with the app, we can confidently conclude that is a versatile piece of software that is good for note-taking, but can actually come in handy in a much wider range of scenarios.

In addition to all the basic necessities like multiple brushes, color palette, and a variety of backgrounds, there is also a whole bunch of templates that can be used, depending on whether you are making a presentation, writing down cooking recipes, taking notes in math class, or just drawing random scribbles. Graphics can be imported from the image library or from the web by capturing a screenshot and cropping the image you need.

To make your work look even better, the app supports shape recognition, which can automatically detect hand-drawn lines or geometrical shapes and straighten them out. The feature can be quite useful when drawing tables and charts, or visualizing math problems. Speaking of math, there's also the formula recognition feature that does exactly what you'd imagine. The Wolfram Alpha database is easily accessible should you need a particular formula that you can't remember, kind of like a built-in cheat sheet. It goes without saying that S Note is a pleasure to use with the S Pen. Thankfully, the app is smart enough to ignore when your wrist is resting against the display.

The S Note application - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The S Note application - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The S Note application - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The S Note application - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The S Note application - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
The S Note application - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review

With Adobe Photoshop Touch, which comes pre-loaded on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, one can manipulate images in a way similar to what the desktop version of the popular application allows. Sure, the capabilities of the software are limited, but for an app that comes bundled with the tablet's purchase, it gets the job done well. Most importantly, the added precision of the S Pen facilitates the process of photo editing. If you want to know more about the application, check out our Photoshop Touch review.

Adobe Photoshop Touch app - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
Adobe Photoshop Touch app - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
Adobe Photoshop Touch app - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
Adobe Photoshop Touch app - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review


Processor and Memory:

Part of the tablet's delay is primarily due to Samsung's choice to outfit the Note 10.1 with a quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos processor coupled with a whopping 2GB of RAM – whereas it was initially slated to offer a dual-core CPU. Although it pumps out some respectable benchmark scores, which are tops in many categories, we're still finding instances of it being choppy with its performance. Particularly, it's evident when navigating the homescreen in portrait or when we use the Multiscreen feature. Seriously, there's no arguing that it has enough horsepower under the hood, but we're once again wondering if TouchWiz is the culprit behind its less than desirable inconsistencies.


Quadrant Standard AnTuTu NenaMark 2
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 5479 12722 58,9
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) 2711 4995 18,7
Asus Transformer Pad 300 3872 9551 47,1
Asus PadFone 5017 6327 60,6

We can't complain that the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, especially when we know it's also packing along a microSD card slot to supplement its storage.


Internet and Connectivity:

Of all the tablets out there, the significant thing that makes web browsing such a pleasure to experience on the Galaxy Note 10.1, is the fact that the S-Pen mimics a cursor. You know what we're talking about – such as being able to hover over drop down elements, without having the tablet registering it as an actual selection. Beyond that, the experience is naturally sound and sweet, since it maintains a high-level performance with even the most demanding of web sites.

Web browsing - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
Web browsing - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review
Web browsing - Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review

For now, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is available in 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi only form; HSPA+ and LTE versions are expected to launched later in the year. Although it packs other modern connectivity features such as aGPS and Bluetooth 4.0, it actually lacks NFC. In Samsung's defense, they mention that it would interfere with the radios used by the Wacom technology.

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Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1

Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1

OS: Android 4.4 4.1.2 4.1 4.0
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
7Good
Display10.1 inches, 1280 x 800 pixels (149 ppi) Super PLS LCD
Camera5 megapixels
Hardware
Samsung Exynos 4 Quad, Quad-core, 1400 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
2 GB RAM
Size10.31 x 7.09 x 0.35 inches
(262 x 180 x 8.9 mm)
21.16 oz  (600 g)

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