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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - Hands-on 5-minute Mini-review

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This beast is a step up from Samsung's more standard Tab2 with the particular addition of a handy little S-pen stylus and the software to go with it.  Samsung is achieving a blazing level of success this year and may make as much as $25 bn profit based mainly on the sales of Android-powered smartphones, led currently by the Galaxy S III and including the new Note 2 phablet (which is the 5.5-inch baby brother to this 10.1-inch model).

Heritage and Conflict, as well as Design Now Influence Style

At Samsung Note 10.1 showing side-by-side appsfirst sight, the appearance of Samsung's tablets has changed rather, since the legal patent onslaught from Apple which has led to Apple gaining a few Pyrrhic victories. The border around the Note's screen is not uniform, and it's largely white.

Since it is now meant to be avoiding uniform black borders, Samsung has made a virtue of necessity,and placed a small, visible speaker on each side of the screen when it's in landscape mode, which does help with sound quality for movie viewing. Interestingly, this is a quite intuitive place to put the speakers, and one which, in the circumstances, Apple will probably not be able to copy.

If there is a general criticism of Samsung design, it is that it tends to favour plastic bodies which don't feel as robust as some of the competition. Beside my old Asus, the new Note is a little lighter, but perhaps a little less robust.


The screen is clean and bright and its lack of resolution, compared with the newest iPads and the Asus Infinity certainly isn't obvious at first sight.

The Note has a quad-core processor and - unusually - 2 Gb of RAM, compared to the more normal 1 Gb. It feels quick and responsive and, in a very unscientific test, its browser was at least twice as fast as the one on my old Asus Transformer TF101 .

The S-Pen Stylus and the Touchwiz Software

But the main benefit of the Note, really, is the nifty stylus and its operation is impressive, although not exactly intuitive. Along with the stylus comes a handful of core applications, like the browser and the notepad app, which have been adapted specially to take advantage of the pen, and to operate in a very convenient side-by-side mode. The basic idea is simple and attractive. In some cases, with things like photos, cropped screenshots and blocks of text can be copied between the two apps.

All this is part of Samsung's skin called Touchwiz, which it has put over the top of Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

Also bundled with the new slate, you get a copy of Polaris Office (rather than my own preference - OfficeSuite), but sadly there is no remote desktop app.


If you're choosing between this, the Asus Transformer Infinity and the iPad 3, which many business users could well be, then here are some pros and cons:


  • The stylus integration
  • The useful side-by-side feature,


  • The slightly lower resolution screen
  • The lack - for the next few months - of a really nice keyboard accessory. These keyboards, like the one that comes with all the Asus Transformers, or the sexy number from Logitech for the iPad , become very important for heavier business applications like spreadsheets - or for remote desktop use.

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