Tuesday , 16 September 2014
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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet Review – A Hit And A Miss

Perhaps the hottest tech products in the market today are tablets. It has become a weekly occurrence where we hear about the next latest and greatest tablet, or tablet technology to grace our newsfeeds.

The reason is simplicity. Here is a device that is bigger than a smartphone, smaller than a laptop, and brings a convenience and efficiency level somewhere in the middle.

Tablets can do a lot more than smartphones, but still do not have the productivity level of a laptop or traditional desktop. Much of this is primarily due to the two dominating mobile operating systems: Android and iOS. Indeed both, and handheld mobile devices in general, are regarded purely as consumption products rather than productivity contraptions.

Cue the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 inch tablet, which brings two concepts for dealing with the productivity notion: the S Pen stylus and multitasking. Glancing at the spec-sheet, the Galaxy Note 10.1 seems like the perfect device; a powerful quad-core processor, Wacom-designed S Pen stylus with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, and a 10.1 inch size that allows a lot of screen real-estate perfect for multiple apps side-by-side.

Tablets, especially Android tablets, have tried time and time again to incorporate these concepts, ultimately resulting in failure. Let us see then if Samsung, one of the few companies capable of developing these ideas into working products, can follow-through with their promise using the $499 Galaxy Note 10.1 as the canvas.

PACKAGING AND EXTERIOR

Starting from the box, the front and back are clean and professional. There is vast amounts of data all around, which is nice to look at. Taking the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 out of the box is simple and hassle-free.

The accessories that come with the tablet are somewhat lackluster. You get a quick-user guide, adapter power brick, and the USB data/power cable. There are also extra stencil tips and installer tool in case the one present in the S Pen gets damaged or stubbed. I would have loved to see extra dongles, cables (such as HDMI), or a microfiber cloth to clean the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Those familiar with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 will notice the exact same design shared by the newer Galaxy Note 10.1, rounded corners and all. The sleek, professional looking form is present in both, but the Galaxy Note does have a few slick changes here and there. It comes in a predominantly pearl white mix (similar to the Samsung Galaxy S3), which is used in this review, as well as another pearl grey offering that looks just as pleasing.

As great as the Galaxy Note looks (as the Galaxy Tab 2 before it), it is deceiving. The material of the Galaxy Note 10.1 is made of plastic throughout and is not metal-based as the pictures may suggest – a bad omen for a flagship product. Unfortunately, it feels a bit cheap, a sentiment shared by everyone that I have asked to critique it. As far as first impressions go, it is not a very good one as the plasticy feel is naturally the first notable negative about the Galaxy Note 10.1.

Since we are already looking at it, let us start with the back of the tablet first. Of course the aforementioned S Pen and back camera can be seen. More importantly, the plasticy build shows its ugly self. The design allows the Galaxy Note 10.1 to be quite light for a 10.1 inch tablet, even lighter than the new iPad; the fact is though it is just too clumsy in its own design.

About Deepak Sharma

I am a big PC enthusiast, and avid gamer. If I'm not tinkering with parts, or reviewing products, you can be 100% certain I'll be on Steam playing something. I love learning about new tech, and teach myself as much as I can, so I can present it to every techie out there!
  • Pedro Madeira

    Project RoadRunner was confirmed to be an hoax.

  • Garrett Shaw

    what tablet gives you dongles?? Or HDMI cables??? Consumer Reports rates this as one of the best tablets on the market. This reminds me of movie reviews, the professionals always get it wrong. They say bad movie and it great, they say great and its bad. I sit in meeting all of the time with IPad owners starring while I’m writing and drawing with my hand on the tablet. I have seen 5 people switch out the Ipad 3 for the same functionality.

    • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

      In my brief stint with tablets, none, but just because they don’t doesn’t mean they can’t include dongles.

      I never said the Note 10.1 is a bad device, nor did I say that it’s great. The tablet was literally the first one I ever used, and I am lucky enough to know people who own a Transformer Prime, Nexus 7, and iPad to compare it with, because I spent a lot of time on every tablet that I mentioned. I’m giving an honest unbiased opinion of what the Galaxy Note 10.1 has to offer when compared to other tablets because it is my first dive into this technology, and as of right now, no tablet is perfect.

      As a reviewer then, it’s my job to let people know what they are getting when they buy it. Consumer reports and Amazon comments are from people who have either bought the tablet, or are sold on buying it. The comments for the vast majority will be praise because those who bought it want to justify their purchase (and the Note will be the one and only tablet they use regularly, perhaps even ever).Then there are those that just want to scorn Apple or Microsoft, or any other company for that matter. So consumer comments don’t mean a lot in the long run. I like Apple and Samsung equally, but if the product is a certain way, it’s my job to call it out. I’m not a fan of the iPad, hence I don’t have one, but if I did you can be 100% sure it would go through the same process. Hence, my review is catered for those who are undecided and researching into purchasing the Note 10.1, not those that already have it and are looking for justification.

      Your situation fits in perfectly to my conclusion. You go to meetings, hence you use the S Pen and multitasking on a regular basis. This isn’t the case for every consumer, so if you cut out those two features, I find that there are better alternatives, unless Samsung lowers the price.

  • Garrett Shaw

    Oh, one last thing you can handwrite in any application, not just a few applications Simply change the keyboard to handwriting.

    • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

      Thanks for the tip.

  • Sandellyo Kauba

    I received over 6,000 on the Quadrant Standard test, did you closed all the apps and turn off bluetooth, GPS, and only leave only Wifi on? Owners of this device, love it! See the Amazon reviews of the people have both this and the new iPad, yet prefer this one. The battery life on this device is amazing, even with the full phone features on the GT-N8000 3G. A quad-core CPU with 2GB of RAM is worth than a screen resolution higher than any TV on the market. It is amazing how people have brought in this higher resolution gimmick is better, when it is not that noticeable. You can hardly find a source greater than 1080p. Think about it. People, please do your own research.

    • Terry Barker

      it’s a good tablet
      and you are right screen resolution doesn’t really make a huge difference if it’s a smaller screen watching videos. but i notice a huge difference between viewing photos on the asus Tf700 infinity compared to my last asus TF201 prime. the higher resolution makes images very sharp and they pop.

      also if your like me i plug my tablet into my projector and samsung smart tv, that added resolution makes things look better comparing it from the 1280 x 800 of the prime. i wanted to compare what hd movie playback would look like from both the tab 10.1 and the infinity, but the tab 10,1 just doesn’t have a micro hdmi port.

  • TonyM

    Only prints to Samsung printers? Are you kidding me? I appreciate Samsung making a tablet that rivals Apples but making you use their printer is just way too much like Apple! Get real and fix this! I love everything about this new tablet but even my Motorola Razor prints on any wireless, come on guys get your heads on straight. People buy your products because they work, you don’t need to use Apple’s cheap tricks for forcing sales of your other products.
    Signed,
    Not so happy customer.

    • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

      Could you elaborate on that? I was using Brother’s print and scan app from the Play Store to print my documents, and never used Samsung’s UI. Thanks.

      • TonyM

        I installed hp e print so I can print files and photos stored on the tablet but am not able to print directly from apps like email or the browser. My new Razor phone which runs Android 4.04 can print directly from almost any app, a real time saver. Please tell me if I am missing something. I really do like this tablet and all the functionality it offers, I just think they missed the mark on the printing if you can only use a Samsung printer when I know it’s not a limitation of the Android OS. I am open to suggestions of anyone has a fix.

      • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

        I understand what you’re saying – it’s universal printing integration in (almost) every app/setting, and it’s a documented case on other Galaxy tablets as well. It’s not a limitation of ICS itself, just Samsung’s modified version running on the Note 10.1.

        I remember seeing it in the settings menu, but personally it never was/is an issue for me, so I didn’t report on it considering printer manufacturers have their own apps to do it. I also used Chrome/GMail with Google Cloud Print in conjunction with the Brother app, which made everything simple.

        I do like the fact that Samsung added that in there though, so those that have a Samsung printer get the added ease of not having to open an extra app. Keep in mind that the Nexus 7 and Transformer don’t have this integration either, but the easy workaround for that, as well as the Note, is to use Chrome or something aside from Samsung’s ‘Internet’ browser app.

        Of course not everyone uses Chrome, so that’s where it becomes an issue for some, as well as the fact that if you want to use multitasking, you have to use Samsung’s browser since Chrome/Gmail are unsupported third-party apps.

  • ase

    a practical question for a beginner with galxy 10.1. When handwriting with the stylus, the frist line of characters is huge, the second a bit smaller, and at the end of 5lines or so, almost invisible. Is this a problem with all tablets? how to fix it?

    • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

      No idea, sorry ase. I never ran into this problem, but hopefully you find a fix.

  • Hector

    Thanks for this review. I was debating between the new iPad and the Samsung galaxy note 10.1. After reading this review I have made up my mind and I am going to the store and get the galaxy note 10.1. after writing this comment. I really don’t care much about the resolution since I am not a fan of watching movies on mobile devices, for that I have my 55 in. HDTV at home. I use mobile devices to browse the web, check emails and listen to music. I am getting this one because I can do all this PLUS I can take notes. This feature I like and it is something l can use a lot at work since I go from one meeting to another most of the time. no more writing pads in my car laying around.

    • http://twitter.com/RxUrien Deepak Sharma

      Thanks a lot, I’m extremely happy the review helped make your decision :)

  • 10.1 owner

    you have no idea.this review is so off. with a small minus for not beingFHD this is best tab on market hands down

    • http://www.thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      We are glad you enjoyed the review. As a matter of fact, there were several things that we saw very favorable in the review as well and spoke to them. Our task as an impartial review source, however, is to be able to spell out the positives and the negatives. It is a bit ironic that the last person to comment spoke to basing his decision to purchase the Note on this review, wouldn’t you think?

  • http://www.facebook.com/OregonSlacker Oregon Slacker

    I love my note 10.1 the comments about the plastic and feel to the tablet are people who obviously never had to carry one around for any significant time. I love the lightweight and ability to have it one hand watching movies, while drinking a soda with my other hand.. I’ve never felt this “flex” that almost reviews mention which has be genuinely thinking that many are reading other reviews before writing their own. The display and FHD are only things that cause me any kind of choice.

  • ZiZoKnight

    you got really low benchmark scores on your SGN 10.1 compared to other reviews , I’ve got my GT-N8000 exactly a month ago and I just benchmarked it again and I don’t see any difference , here are today’s results : Smartbench 2012 ( prod 4119 , games 1776 ) , vellamo ( 2424 ) , quadrant ( 5355 ) , Linpack ( 190 ) , Antutu (12475), Browsermark ( 162972 ) , there are 2 possible reasons for such scores , it’s either a faulty unit or you had power saving mode on , you should redo these tests and see what turns up.

  • Chance

    Fantastic review, thank you for answering my qestions

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.canning.73 Mike Canning

    Thanks I found the review very helpful

  • Islander

    I agree with some of your review. As with all reviews, it is based on ther reviewer’s point of view. I respect that. I have an iPad 2 and I never once tried flexing it to see how much give it has. Most people, including me put their tablets in a case from the very first day, so this concern abut tha plastic body is a non-issue for me. When you buy a laptop do you try flexing the screen to see if it has a ton of “give”? Or drop it on the floor to see what happens? What about your new car? Do you drive it into a wall to see how sturdy the body is and if the airbag works? People need to stop focusing on the plastic and start focus on what the tablet can do. It is a great tablet. I own one also and have no regrets.

  • SNoteWriter

    Samsung promised the Jelly Bean update by the end of the year. Now that this update is being rolled out, it would be worthwhile checking how well this solves the software and performance problems Identified in this review.

  • AMC

    I have the samsung galaxy note 10.1 and I was told all I needed to do was get an otg cable. I did this and it didn’t work, then I was told that I just needed to download a usb device controller program one suggested was call Usb host controller.
    Initially this worked the first time but have not been able to get it to work since.
    Can anyone help me?
    I’m not really tech savvy so if you could make it simple and clear that would be great.
    Thanks
    AMC

  • Freedude

    One thing that REALLY concerns me about all the Galaxy tablet products is the power connector …

    1) Having it on the nominal “bottom” … where if you want to use it to skype someone from your lap, it’s digging into your tummy! And it especially becomes most inconveniet when you want to plug in the USB, card or HDMI dongles. and you can’t give it power at the same time.
    It certainly means card or USB memory is a short term activity … you must sync the stuff onto the tablet.

    2) I am really frightened with having the cable come out of the bottom of the connector where it’s always getting flexed like crazy at one spot. For that reason, I carry a second cable with me at all times. So far 2 years and it’s OK. But I really don’t think it’s gonna survive a lot longer.

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