The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is the firm's latest attempt to take on the iPad and threaten Apple's dominance in the tablet market.
While it seems odd that Samsung would launch two 10.1in tablets at the same time, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has a special gimmick - its stylus pen.
Aimed at professionals and those who like to doodle, the tablet comes jam-packed with productivity and note-taking apps to tempt artistic types away from the iPad.
Design and build
Crafted from a lightweight plastic material, the 600g tablet seems impressively portable at first look, feeling much lighter than the latest 652g iPad. It's nice and slim too, measuring 262x180x8.9mm.
That's not to say that we're overly fond of the Galaxy Note 10.1's glossy casing, as the plastic material does feel quite cheap - disappointing considering the tablet's £399.99 starting price. Still, the white plastic is complemented with silver trim running around the edge, which although unlikely to withstand chips and scuffs gives the tablet a more high-end appearance.
One of the unique design features of this tablet is the slot that houses Samsung's S Pen, nestled subtly into the bottom right hand corner of the Galaxy Note 10.1. We found that having the stylus tucked away in a handy location meant that we reached to use it a lot more than we thought we would, making that a favourite touch.
Within the tablet's casing sits a 10.1in 1280x800 resolution toughscreen, which while not on par with its rivals in terms of pixel count, proved impressively bright with clear viewing angles, although we have yet to test it in bright sunlight. One gripe is that the screen manages to pick up fingerprints easily, and we found that we kept having to clean it after each use.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 has one of the highest sets of specifications of tablets available on the market, packing a 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos processor and 2GB of RAM under the hood. These of course help support Samsung's multitasking features, and we noticed no lag when swiping through home screens, opening apps and browsing the web. We're yet to put the tablet through its paces when it comes to gaming, but we can't see it having too much of a hard time coping.
Samsung has loaded the Galaxy Note 10.1 with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) and the firm is promising that it will upgrade the tablet to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean later this year. We don't think anyone will be that bothered about the lack of Jelly Bean on arrival though, as Samsung's heavily-tweaked Touchwiz user interface makes ICS almost unrecognisable.
The lock screen on the Galaxy Note 10.1 takes tips from the Samsung Galaxy S3 with its 'natural' swipe to unlock features, while the tablet's main home screen has been tweaked to focus on Samsung's own app selection: Video, Music and Games Hubs.
Productivity apps have also been placed at the forefront of the device, thanks to the tablet's included stylus, such as Samsung's S Note and S Planner apps and the included Adobe Photoshop Touch. While we liked the tweaked lock and home screens, these are unlikely to appeal to those who are after an untampered-with Android experience.
Multitasking is another focus of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and one the tablet performs very well. As well as Pop up Play, a feature that lets you continue to watch a video while in other apps, our favourite multitasking feature is Samsung's new Multiscreen mode, which lets you have multiple apps open at the same time.
Simply tapping a button in the top right hand side of the screen lets you take advantage of the Multiscreen feature, which we found handy for tasks such as taking a screen shot of a video and pasting it straight into Samsung's S Note application and for taking notes while browsing a website.
This is where the stylus comes into its own, proving exceptionally responsive and easy to use. The pen is exceptionally better than the one found on Samsung's Galaxy Note smartphone, offering 1024 sensitivity levels compared to 256.
This, along with the included office and note-taking apps and added screenshot button, gives Android a much more business-like feel than we've experienced before, making this a great device for professionals.
While the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 doesn't match up to its competitors on paper, the tablet has managed to impress us on first look with its focus on productivity and excellent performance. Sure, it doesn't have the keyboard found on the Asus Transformer Infinity, for example, but Samsung's innovative software tweaks may well make this the best tablet of choice for professionals and creative types.
Check back next week for our full Samsung Galaxy Note review.
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