Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 a step up - review

2012-10-18 08:50
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a step up from the previous version and offers a real tablet alternative. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a step up from the previous version and offers a real tablet alternative. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a step up from the previous version and offers a real tablet alternative - even to other Samsung devices.

The upgraded Note sports a similar 26cm high definition display than its predecessor that makes the tablet experience on the device far more user friendly and shoots down the "phablet" format.

The Quad core 1.4GHz processor and 2GB of RAM keeps the Android-powered device running smoothly despite using high drain video and gaming apps.

The main difference between this device and the other tablets is the inclusion of the S-pen stylus which is neatly built into the chassis of the Note.

It augments many of the tablet functions, and includes bonuses like handwriting recognition and pressure sensitivity for drawing images in Samsung's S Note application.


"It's cool because the pen is responsive," a graphic designer told News24 when using the Note, but he wasn't as impressed with the PS Touch application.

"I wish they had included more of the original PhotoShop instead of this thing that I have to relearn," he said.

Indeed, the Note does try to be a Jack-of-all-trades, offering hardware touches matched with software that should give developers more options in building apps dedicated to the device.

Like recent products from Apple, the Note 10.1 supports both GPS and Glonass, and one can do screen captures from a software button on the screen.

It runs the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system which is refreshing and more refined than previous versions of the now dominant mobile OS.

Battery life was a pleasant surprise on the device, with the 7000mAh battery running for two days before needing to be charged, despite the powerful processor.

The main camera on the Note is only a 5 megapixel, but some would argue that it is still quite clumsy to use tablets primarily as cameras.

Sharing functionality

Still, the camera records HD video and the secondary camera has a resolution of 1.9 megapixels, effectively banishing VGA to history.

The review unit had 32GB of memory on board and it's still a bonus that Android-powered devices offer a micro-SD card slot to expand memory.

Samsung is working hard to create a hardware ecosystem and has included a TV remote on the Note, hoping that users will choose to buy more Samsung products for greater compatibility of devices.

Despite the Note's obvious wins, there are some concerns with the device: It works so well that one can easily forget to use the included stylus.

Even though it is neatly stowed in the case, there is always a risk that it could be lost, and a replacement could be a costly exercise.

While the S Note application works well for editing, there is no direct application on computers that is able to read the SNB files that it generates, and this limits some of the sharing functionality Samsung is trying to promote.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a well-built, well-designed machine that offers more than standards tablets, but the hardware doesn't stand out too much from other Samsung products, and the price may give you palpitations.

You'll do well to get the device on contract because it has a recommended retail price of R8 499 - at that price, it's almost certain that it's not designed for the mass market.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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