Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
We review Samsung's latest tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, running Android 4.0 and featuring some serious multitasking.
Product type: Tablet
Editors rating: User rating:
RRP incl GST: $799 (Wi-Fi only), $999 (Wi-Fi + 3G)
- Quick and responsive
- Screen on par with the Galaxy Tab 10.1
- Features splitscreen and pop-out video
- Stylus is an improvement on the original Galaxy Note
A great tablet let down by shoddy build quality.
The Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone-slash-tablet-but-probably-smartphone was made remarkable mostly by virtue of its massive, 5.3-inch screen. The Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, on the other hand, is rather unremarkable at first glance. In appearance it more closely resembles Samsung's original 10-inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1. However, it gets its 'Note' branding from the stylus embedded in its lower-right corner.
A stylus is much more useful on the 5-inch Galaxy Note than here, but for those who like to draw and design it could come in handy. It seems a lot more accurate and responsive than the stylus on the original Galaxy Note, which always seems to be a second or two behind your penstrokes. The stylus pairs well with Samsung's S Note app, which comes pre-installed, and Adobe's Photoshop Touch, which doesn't. When drawing, the stylus can register different levels of pressure - you can draw a thin line with light pressure, or a heavy one with more pressure. If you want to draw with precision on your everyday tablet, for whatever reason, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is ideal.
The stylus is in the lower-right corner because the device's natural orientation is in landscape mode, which sets it apart from other tablets and phones that primarily use portrait.
For the average user, a stylus may not be that useful aside from the novelty of having one. The Note 10.1, however, has a lot of other things going for it. Its 10.1-inch LCD display has a resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels - the same as the Galaxy Tab 10.1's screen - and using the Galaxy Note 10.1 for reading or watching video is a good experience.
Video playback is also nice and smooth, thanks to the Galaxy Note 10.1's 1.4GHz quad-core processor. In fact, the device's speed is great in general, and only hampered by the limitations of Android 4.0 (although 4.0 is a vast improvement on Google's first tablet-optimised OS, 3.0). The device is responsive to the touch, and switching between apps was quick and easy. When we benchmarked the Note 10.1 using the freely available Android app Antutu Benchmark, it scored right up there with Samsung's flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, in terms of speed. The S III is currently topping the Android speed charts, so that's not bad at all.
Because of this speed and responsiveness, we found that we had no problems at all doing a little bit of light gaming on the Note 10.1. We played several games - Angry Birds, Roll in the Hole, Imaginary Range - and none of them stuttered for even half a second.
Unfortunately, the quad-core processor means the Note 10.1 is a bit of a battery-suck. It's by no means terrible - with relatively heavy use it lasted more than a day - but the standby battery life seemed quite a bit lower than most other tablets on the market. It doesn't last for days and days the way most tablet batteries do. It's not a big detractor, but one of the things we've become accustomed to is great battery life on tablets.
The Galaxy Note 10.1's rear-facing camera is surprisingly good, given that it's only 5MP. It takes relatively clean, crisp photos, although like many mobile cameras, struggles in low or incandescent lighting. The 10.1 can also record video in 1080p or 720p at 30 frames per second. Again, it's a tad grainy in low lighting, but still significantly better than the quality you'd get on, say, an iPad 2.
Speaking of the iPad 2, we compared the sound quality of the Galaxy Note to that of an iPad 2. We found that while the Galaxy Note 10.1 had what the editor referred to as "laptop speaker effect" - a tinny, echoey sound - it also picked up on a lot more detail in the music. You could hear exactly when notes changed and pick out which instruments were being used where. All in all, the sound quality was just as high, but in a different way.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 comes in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models, and three different storage sizes - 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. The model we had was a Wi-Fi 16GB model.
There are a couple of nifty extras on the Galaxy Note that we haven't seen much of before. Samsung has beaten Microsoft to the punch in getting a tablet on the market that's capable of splitscreen ahead of the release of Windows 8. That said, only certain apps can use this splitscreen feature, and most of them are Samsung branded. For example, you can open up S Note, then hit the 'Multiscreen' button in the top-right corner to open the web broswer as well. The first app you opened will sit on the left-hand side, and the second on the right. You can even play a video side-by-side with your broswer, so if you want to check IMDB while you're watching a movie, it's easy.
Samsung's Video Player app also includes a feature called 'Pop Up Play'. You can be playing a video, then decide you want to do other things on the device, like maybe look at your home screen. Don't want to stop watching the video? No problem - just hit the Pop Up Play button and the video will not only shrink down, but switch into an 'always on top' mode. You can then perss the home button, and the video will still be there, playing on yoru home screen. What's more, you can move it around the screen and resize the video window without having to return to the Video Player app.
This might sound like a glowing report of the Galaxy Note 10.1, and overall it's not a bad device, but it does have one serious flaw: build quality, or lack thereof. See, when you pick up the Note 10.1, it creaks and squeaks, particularly on the right hand side. When we turned it over onto its front and pressed down lightly on its back, the plastic cover flexed too far inward for our liking. The middle of the back and the corners of the device seem particularly weak, and seams are looser than they should be in several places. In short, the Note 10.1 looks poorly constructed. And if the outside of the device is that rough, then what's the inside like? Given that it costs more than an iPad 3, we expect the build quality to be similar, but it doesn't even come close.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 performs exceptionally well, and allows you to multitask like no tablet ever has before - and that's great. We loved the Multiscreen function, the bright screen, and the snappy processor. If it weren't for the poor build quality, it'd be by far the best Android tablet we've tested.
Posted by Valdemar Kjaer at 14:54:47 on October 27, 2012
Posted by Erickson at 17:40:33 on September 18, 2012
Posted by android4life at 6:56:15 on October 20, 2012
Posted by Mark at 4:11:41 on September 17, 2012
Posted by Bali at 12:23:32 on September 12, 2012
Posted by Kreaninw at 20:36:44 on September 9, 2012
Posted by Tim at 10:13:55 on September 7, 2012
Posted by Tim at 18:18:25 on September 5, 2012
Posted by John at 12:59:15 on September 10, 2012
From my assert i can say W30HD is more advanced tablet than Samsung galaxy. Recently my elder brother bought a new W30HD. I am astonished that W30HD is really great. It's functionality is really nice. I am recommending W30HD very much. 5 Stars
Posted by atikbabu3 at 23:21:31 on January 27, 2013
How to choose the best tablet for you
101 great websites:
You haven't heard of yet
We ask the pros for building tips