Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Many devices have been referred to by reviewers as "iPad killers" since Apple's pivotal tablet was introduced in 2010, but none have really come close. Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 is different, and from where we sit, it's the first real contender to the haughty iPad 3.

First of all, Galaxy Note is the first Android tablet that can actually do more than iPad out of the box. A lot more. For starters, it can run, display and operate multiple applications on the screen at one time. With Galaxy Note, it's now possible to display, say, a Web page on one half of the screen and a presentation on the other and cut and paste between the two. It's also possible to watch a video in a resizable window that floats atop any application or pair of apps. This window can be dragged around with a fingertip and pinched and stretched to size. But, we’ll talk more on multitasking later.

Also setting Galaxy Note apart from others is S Pen, Samsung's clever little implement that transports the device beyond consumption and into the land of content creation. Working with the same touch-sensitive grid technology found in Wacom tablets, the S Pen brings a new level of input control with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. And, it gets it power from the screen; there's no battery to replace.

Old-school note-takers will appreciate S Pen for its ability to capture information the old fashioned way, by writing. Samsung's palm rejection technology worked perfectly in our tests, during which we wrote, drew and annotated documents with S Pen, all while naturally resting the right side of our hand on the screen nearby.

Samsung includes several excellent pen-optimized applications with Galaxy Note, in which the apps are designed to enhance the content creation experience, with dozens more available in Google Play. Samsung's S Note not only captures pen strokes, of variable width depending on pressure, but also converts handwritten notes and mathematical formulas into searchable or calculable text. What's more, it converts hand-drawn shapes into precise geometric objects. S Note includes templates for notes, ideas, recipes, magazine pages and others to help arrange and organize data in the most suitable format.

Then there's Adobe PhotoShop Touch, which transforms galaxy Note from a 5-megapixel point-and-shoot camera to a precise digital editing workstation. PhotoShop Touch was surprisingly responsive in our tests, which involved retouching photos, creating and manipulating multilayered images and the application of some of the program's numerous digital effects. The blending of a pressure-sensitive Wacom tablet and LCD display is magical, though some artists might wish for resolution in excess of its 1,280 x 800-pixel panel.

NEXT: Galaxy Note with Android 4.1 'Jelly Bean'

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Samsung in Berlin today unveiled Galaxy Note II, a faster, larger version of its tablet/smartphone hybrid that includes the same capabilities as the Galaxy Note 10.1. The 5.5-inch unit reportedly will include Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" and a more sensitive stylus. Galaxy Note II will be available in the U.S. later this year, according to the company, and it will come in 16-, 32- and 64-GB versions.

Turning attention back to the 10.1-inch Galaxy Note, the new tablet will run an all-new version of TouchWiz, Samsung's custom interface overlay for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Still present to enhance the multitasking experience are Samsung's mini-apps, which pop-up within other apps and provide calculator, calendar and other targeted functionality. The new TouchWiz adds more mini-apps and lets users decide which ones pop up by default.

Perhaps of greater note for the enterprise is AllShare, Samsung's free screen- and file-sharing technology that works across all of its devices -- including televisions -- as well as non-Samsung tablets, smartphones and computers. Using AllShare, multiple devices can view presentations, video or the contents of other files at the same time from anywhere on the same network.

Like the Galaxy Tab 2 series introduced earlier this year, the new Galaxy Note will be equipped with an infrared emitter, enabling it to replace any number of existing remote controls for televisions, cable set-top boxes, DVD/Blu-ray players and other devices.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 began shipping on Aug. 16 for $499 with 16 GB and $549 with 32 GB. A 64-GB version also is available. All include Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, front (5 MP) and rear (1.9 MP) cameras with LED flash, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0 support (with an optional adapter), stereo speakers, a microSD card slot (64 GB max.) and a 30-pin multipurpose interface connector. Samsung also offers a dock that holds the device upright and provides USB ports. The Galaxy Note is a recommended product by the CRN Test Center.


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