Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review: A Capable Elder Brother?

After the unboxing photos which are more than a month old, here is my long overdue review of the Galaxy Note 10.1. Sit back, relax and read, as this is going to be a long one.

Specs:

-Size: 262 x 180 x 8.9 mm
-Weight: 600g
-Display: 800 x 1280 pixels, 10.1 inches (~149 ppi pixel density)
-SIM Card Slot:Yes(GT N8000), none for the WiFi only GT N8003. Support for phone calls, SMS and 2G/3G mobile internet
-Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot
-Proprietary Samsung port for Data and charging connection.
-Memory: 2GB (RAM), 16GB (ROM) + microSD Slot(expandable up to 64GB)
-Processor: Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9
-Battery: Built-in 7,000mAh Lithium ion battery
-Camera: Front camera: 1.9 MP. Rear Camera: 5MP Camera
-Operating System : Android OS, v4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich), upgradable to v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)
-TouchWiz UI software overlay by Samsung

Note10.1-1

In the Box:
-Proprietary cable for charging and data connections
-USB adapter for charging
-Earphone with 2 replacement muffs
-3 extra tips for the SPen.

Here’s a quick look at the Pro’s and Con’s for those who cannot read the full review.

Pros:

  1. Fast, fluid lagfree performance.
  2. Awesome SPen integration and execution.
  3. Powerful Software extras with the most prominent being Multiwindow.
  4. Great battery life and Wifi Range.

Cons:

  1. Below Par display
  2. Not a great selection of Tablet optimized apps.
  3. Terrible camera
  4. Awkward screen dimension.(More on that later)

Introduction:

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 wasn’t a device that captivated me when It was announced nor even when it was released. I guess I got attracted to it because of the SPen functionality more than anything else and everything else is history. Back when the Note 10.1 was announced I was still with my original Galaxy Note and I was looking to upgrade. The big screen, SPen and the fact that I was going to need it in school did it for me.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is powered by a Quad Core processor along with 2 gigs of RAM so everything works smoothly without lag. With the Android 4.1 update Samsung also tweaked certain things on the Note 10.1 with the most prominent being the Multi-Window feature which is now more PC like in function.

Display:

Note10.1-2

The Note 10.1 has a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 with a pixel per inch(ppi) value of 149 which is rather low for it’s screen category. It might not be a direct competitor to the iPad 3/4 but their retina totting displays outmatch and downright disgrace the screen Samsung put on the Note 10.1

Coming from the original Galaxy Note which had a Super Amoled display with the same resolution as the Note 10.1 I have to say that I was a little disappointed. Most times if I look had enough I can still see the individual pixels when I’m reading an ebook for example. My guess as to why this is so is that Samsung couldn’t stick the Wacom digitizer technology in a better screen so they decided to ship with what they could.

If you have used or you use a display with higher resolution then you will surely not like the display on the Note 10.1. Cranking up the brightness does help sometimes but not always and if you’re a pixel peeper then sadly the display on the Note 10.1 will not be a thing of joy for you. With time you’ll get used to it though as I have and it will become less of an issue.

Pre-Installed Apps:

The most prominent and widely advertised pre-installed software on the Note 10.1 is the S Note for the similarly named stylus called the SPen that ships with the device. It let’s you take down notes, drawings and it even has advanced functions such as formula and shape match for scholars/students out there. Another great software which is pre-installed is Adobe Photoshop Touch which is a feature packed tablet edition of the popular photo manipulation software. It costs $9.99(N1571.73) in the Google Play Store so it is indeed a great addition.

And the last pre-installed app of note(pun intended) is Polaris Office which offers support for the Microsoft Office package which consists of Office, Powerpoint and Excel. It views and edits hitchfree and with the big display and multiwindow support it is God-sent in some very critical instances when you need to edit/view Office documents on the go.

Media:

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 handles multimedia files with ease. It also feature stereo speakers on the front of the device which don it on the left and right of the display so audio is pumped out flawlessly. Also featured in the Music and Video players are Multi-Window support along with pop-up play in the video player.

Pop-up play
Pop-up play

For those that are not familiar, pop-up play enables you to pop out the video into a resizeable display which you can move around the screen while you do something else.

Storage and Connectivity:

Note10.1-3

The Note 10.1 has two base configurations which are the 16GB and 32GB versions after which you can expand the storage even more via microSD slot with up to 64GB of memory. USB on the go is possible also via the proprietary Samsung port but you have to buy it separately.

Performance:

Equipped with 2 gigs of RAM and a quad core processor, the Samsung Galaxy Note is virtually lagfree. Switching between open apps and going to the homescreen which shows some element of lag is non-existent on the Note 10.1.

Multi-window operations are smooth also as is browser performance that renders smoothly. Pity that flash is not supported on Android Jellybean though but you can install the APK file from Adobe.

Battery Life:

Screenshot_2013-02-12-00-15-52

As indicated by the 7,000mAH battery the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a very good performer battery wise. It can last more than two days on medium use and a week on low usage. On heavy usage it will still work a full day and a half before giving the battery low warning. As far as battery life is concerned the Note 10.1 is an awesome performer.

SPen, Multi-Window and Extra features

As with the other members of the Note family, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 features the S Pen. A Stylus that is also feature packed both on the software and hardware sides. Some features include palm rejection, pressure sensitivity, gestures and even an SDK so that developers can integrate the functionality if the SPen into their apps.

Multi-Window with the gallery and video player
Multi-Window with the gallery and video player

Multi-Window like the name implies allows you to run certain apps either side by side Windows style or floating on top of whatever you have open. In it’s original form it was admittedly a little difficult in implementation but with the Android Jellybean update it is far more easier to switch between apps. Another thing to note is that applications that support multiwindow are increasing day by day as opposed to when it first launched and it was just few Samsung and Google applications that were supported.

A cool extra feature is the Infrared sensor that the Note 10.1 packs. With it, you can control televisions including really old and new ones. A cool feature in my opinion.


What I Like:

I like the multi-window feature best, it is a life saver during classes for me as I open a web browser in one window while I write in the other window. Games and apps are quick in opening and closing that it sometimes feel unreal. To the user who demands a lot the Note 10.1 should have you covered.

What I hate:

The screen is about the only thing that I hate about the Note 10.1, That may be because I came from using a device with a better display but Samsung should have improved the screen. It’s no longer an issue for me however but occasionally I still wish it was more. I’m guessing with the second generation of the device Samsung will probably fix this.

Another issue I have is the aspect ratio that is perfect for movies but when it comes to reading magazines and ebooks leave black bars both on the top and bottom. It isn’t an issue for most but still it nags me from time to time.

Conclusion:

Note10.1-4

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a power horse that does not fail to deliver when tasked. An excellent choice for productive type people who want to do multiple things simultaneously and the addition of the S Pen just sweetens the whole deal. A drawback is the display but with time that shouldn’t be an issue.

All in all this is an excellent choice for those who need a tablet that can multitask vigorously, take notes and play some very heavy games. It is highly recommended by me who almost got an iPad. So far so good it hasn’t disappointed me, with the latest update to Jellybean Samsung also fixed some issues I had with it when it ran Ice Cream Sandwich.

If you are looking for an alternative to the famed iPad that can handle a lot of tasks really well with Stylus support then the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is for you. Do share your questions about the device in the comments below and I promise to reply to every single one of them. Cheers!

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5 comments

  1. I was torn between getting this dude and getting the note 2. In the end, I went for the note 2. Only because I already have tab 8.9.
    I really wish I can have the two. I yearned to have it from the moment it was re-announced.

  2. @NelsoIisibor – Lol. You can wait till Samsung announce and release the next gen Note 10.1 but that will be like at least 4-8 months from now. What they are keen on announcing is the 8 inch Note and even that too has a rubbish display. I think they have still not nailed how to make the Wacom technology work on high res displays.

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