Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet Review – A Hit And A Miss

It seems identical to your typical Apple 30-pin connector but it is not (trust me, I tried using both connectors in opposite devices). Samsung’s connector is a tad smaller, and a bit thicker than Apple’s. I have no idea why Samsung decided to use this instead of, say, a micro-USB port. Apple’s design encompasses many devices, whereas Samsung’s does not.

UPDATE:  In subsequent communication with Samsung, they stated that there was specific reason for this in such that, when docked, the port has to support the device and micro-USB is too small.  Further, if we are correct, Galaxy phones have always used micro-USB and Galaxy tablets have always used the same 30-pin connector, unlike Apple where changes had been made.

blankThe Galaxy S3 for example uses a micro-USB port, and it would have been a perfect pairing. The chances of one finding a micro-USB cable are infinitely higher than a random unnamed cable. What I am trying to say is, if you lose it, the Galaxy Note 10.1 will essentially be a paper weight until you get a new charger.

To finish the carousel, to the right of the charging port and microphone, there is the S Pen and its accompanying slot. The S Pen will come up later, but for the record it is a very solid piece of construction, and tucks in nicely. Unless you are actively looking for it, or thinking about it, it keeps itself well hidden even when holding the tablet with both hands.


Finishing off the exterior of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, two speakers are built into either side of the tablet. I absolutely love that Samsung decided to put the speakers in the front instead of the back or sides:


The sound is extra crisp, and nothing is blocking its path, which means the tablet can be laid flat without forcing the user to forever hold it in order to receive proper sound quality. In the case of the ASUS Transformer Prime for example, there is so much distortion from the back speakers that you can literally hear a better sound difference by cupping a hand around them!


Alright, now it is time to see what makes the Galaxy Note 10.1 a worthy competitor. The up to 32GB microSD expansion slot option boosts the Galaxy Note 10.1 above most of the competition, but it natively comes in 16GB (used for this review), 32GB, and a recently-announced 64GB flavours. Couple this with potentially infinite cloud storage, and well…that is A LOT of space.

We also need specs that can utilize that data, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 is more than capable. Powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos 4412 CPU and an ARM Mali-400 MP4 GPU, it packs quite a punch, which is readily apparent in multitasking and benchmarking.


The dual-band WiFi picks up signals quite easily, but a WiFi environment is the only practical use for the Galaxy Note 10.1, as with most other tablets (a 3G version is in the works, however). Bluetooth 4.0 is also present and had no hiccups recognizing devices. In conjunction, an IR blaster is integrated in the Galaxy Note 10.1 (as with every other Galaxy Tab hardware), and can be used to control televisions and other hardware using the Peel Smart Remote app.

Omissions include HDMI output and USB On-The-Go (OTG). I would have liked to see these integrated, as the Galaxy Note 10.1 has more than enough room to spare, but Samsung does give the option to add-on these features by buying separate dongles that utilize their proprietary data connector. An odd absence is the NFC chip, which again like the proprietary connector, kills the ecosystem of other Samsung products. The lack of NFC means no Android Beam sharing, and that leaves the Galaxy Note 10.1 in solitary confinement from other Samsung and Android products like the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S3.

Finally, a 1.9 megapixel front camera, and a 5.0 megapixel flash-capable rear camera are included. As expected, the front camera is essentially only useable for VOIP calling over Skype, or taking close-ups due to the quality. The back camera is more powerful, and is adept at taking high-res 720p HD photos and videos (including 360-degree landscapes).


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    Project RoadRunner was confirmed to be an hoax.

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    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.

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      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.

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

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    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.

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      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.

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    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.
    Not so happy customer.

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      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.

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        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.

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        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.

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    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?

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    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.

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

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      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?

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    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.

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    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.

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    Fantastic review, thank you for answering my qestions

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    Thanks I found the review very helpful

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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