- Exceptional performance
- S Pen and S Apps practicality
- Solid build and modern and elegant design
- Long-lasting battery
- Insufficiently high screen resolution (and pixel density)
- Proprietary 30-pin connector
- Just average photograph and video quality
At first glance, the 10.1-inch version of Samsung’s Galaxy Note looks a lot like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, except that it comes equipped with an S Pen stylus. Still, this is a device that differs from the common tablet in many ways, above all, in its bundled software which has been specially created for use with the S Pen.
Don’t think the Galaxy Note 10.1 is just a Galaxy Note with double the diagonal. They were designed for two completely different purposes, with only the S Pen being the common denominator.
They also have one other thing in common: an impressive list of hardware specifications and standard supreme Samsung performance. The Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with a quad-core Samsung Exynos processor, especially elegant dimensions and Android OS 4.0.1 (ICS), upgradeable to Jelly Bean and completed with the TouchWiz UI. This is currently the best Samsung tablet with the Android OS, for sure. Many will find it the best Android tablet in general, due to its possibilities and performance, while others who like it won’t see any particular use for the S Pen.
Build and Design
The Galaxy Note 10.1 differs from the one Samsung showed off during MWC in February. As the new Apple iPad, Google Nexus 7, and other fantastic tablets from Acer and Asus appeared in the meantime, Samsung had to improve its flagship tablet before it was worthy of the competition. It is now equipped with a better and faster chipset, and its appearance was also improved. Furthermore, it is even smaller now.
Thus, the Galaxy Note 10.1 looks quite modern, powerful, and convincing. It resembles the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, but the white color combines with a silver rim, using metal in crafting the body and a very slim edge that leaves a much better impression than the ‘classic’ Samsung 10-inch tablet. At 262 x 180 x 8.9 mm and 600 grams, the Note 10.1 provides a very pleasant and balanced feeling when held in hand, and is one of the slimmest and lightest 10-inch tablets available on the market.
Unlike the device’s hardware, performance, and design, the screen does not deserve nearly as much praise. This is a 10.1-inch PLS TFT panel with a resolution of just 800 x 1280 pixels. This results in an unimpressive pixel density of 149 ppi, which is far below the latest iPad’s Retina, as well as far from the pixel density provided by Full HD screens on Acer and Asus 10-inch tablets. Furthermore, the Galaxy Note 10.1 does not use Gorilla Glass.
Luckily, the imaging appears above average for 10-inch tablets, and the jagginess of skew edges is visible with the naked eye only when you get really close to the device. Color vividness is fantastic, especially when it comes to warm and cold tones, while the neutral ones somewhat suffocate the contrast. Objects made from contrasting nuances look a bit washed out, and the overall contrast is suddenly lost when the tablet is exposed to direct sunlight. On the other hand, the viewing angle is very wide, and it almost does not affect the imaging quality on the screen.
Other Buttons and Ports
A pair of speakers is located on the metal edge — one on each side when the device is held in the landscape position — while the front includes only a front-facing camera (2 megapixels) and an ambilight sensor. Of course, unlike the ‘little’ Galaxy Note, this ‘big’ one does not have a speaker for making telephone calls. However, VoIP calls are possible via the speakerphone or by using a headset.
The upper edge of this tablet offers a 3.5 mm headphone slot, a Micro SIM slot, as well as a microSD card slot, protected with plastic covers. There is also the volume control and the Power button.
The lower edge includes a microphone and a slot for holding the S Pen, while the central part holds a nonstandard 30-pin connector for battery charging and connecting the device with additional items. It is high time Samsung implemented a standard hub, like Micro-USB — as it is, users are forced to almost constantly carry around their charging cable. The back side includes only the Samsung logo and a 5-megapixel camera with a LED flash.