I was able to get some hands-on time with a prototype of this tablet in Las Vegas, and formed some first impressions.
Build and Design
As part of the Note series, this model is going to come with the S Pen, which is what Samsung calls its Wacom-compatible stylus. This means that the touchscreen/stylus combo is pressure sensitive, a feature most tablets lack. There’ll be a silo to hold the S Pen built into this tablet, and removing it is going to bring up a handy widget for performing frequent tasks.
Those who like the overall design but have no interest in handwritten notes or sketching on their tablet can consider the Galaxy TabPRO (12.2), which will essentially be identical but without the S Pen and Wacom support.
Be sure to read our Samsung Galaxy TabPRO (12.2) Hands-On Preview.
While many potential buyers will be attracted to the large display, others will be turned away by it — you just can’t fit a 12.2-inch screen into a small tablet. While this display is wonderful to work on, its size makes holding this model with one hand while controlling it with the other awkward at best. In my time with a prototype, the option I preferred was with the computer sitting on a table or on my lap.
At 1.6 lbs., it will be lighter than many Ultrabooks, so carrying this device around certainly won’t be an issue.
The device will also have an 8 megapixel rear camera with LED Flash, as well as a 2 MP front camera. Typically, it’s the latter one that will be used more often.
Judging performance from a pre-release prototype is a chancy business, but the Galaxy NotePRO (12.2) certainly has the potential to be a speedy tablet thanks to its Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor (1.9 GHz QuadCore + 1.3 GHz Quadcore) and 3GB of RAM.
It’s going to launch running Android 4.4 (KitKat), the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. Samsung is generally good about offering OS upgrades, although these can take many months to arrive.
There will be versions with 32GB or 64GB of internal capacity, with additional storage coming from the microSD slot mentioned previously.
A stock Android device uses a typical array of icons as an app launcher, with widgets livening the experience up a bit. Samsung is throwing that completely out and replacing it with the Magazine UX. This will allow users to display information from various sources (like RSS feeds) on their homescreen.
The success of this UI will depend on how easy it will be to get content onto the homescreen and how good it looks. It won’t be popular if users are forced to choose from a limited seletion of feeds chosen by Samsung, or if user-specified feeds are unattractive.
Icons for launching frequently-used applications can be found in a small window that slides in from the right when the user drags their finger in from that side of the screen.
Samsung is also building in Multi Window, which will bring the ability to display multiple apps in resizable windows.
Those familiar with Windows 8.1 should recognize that many of the features of the Magazine UX are going to be similar to Microsoft’s latest operating system.
Given its name and featureset, there’s no doubt that Samsung is targeting the Galaxy NotePRO (12.2) solidly at business users. These are people who typically use their computers all day every day and don’t want to put up with a small screen.
Combining the large display with a pressure-sensitive stylus should make this a good option for drawing, sketching, and perhaps even painting.
That said, those who don’t need an extra-large display might be happier with a smaller tablet that’s easier to hold.
But all of this is very preliminary. It will take a full review to draw any real conclusions about the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO (12.2), and that won’t be possible until much closer to the actual release of this tablet, which is scheduled to happen in the next few months.