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.