The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 boasts powerful performance and productivity-focused features such as the touch-sensitive S Pen stylus and an efficient multitasking mode. There's even an IR remote to control home theater electronics, along with a host of other extras. But if you don't need those bells and whistles, other tablets deliver just as much performance and nicer screens for less money.
Fast on the inside, fuzzy on the outside. Reviewers say the quad-core Exynos processor powering the Galaxy Note 10.1 screams through tasks and responds in a snap, although there's a hint of lag when you have two apps open simultaneously. The S Pen works well most of the time, but isn't 100 percent accurate. Battery life is epic, and audio rings out loud and clear.
The screen's brightness outshines the competition, but experts say the 1,280-by-800-pixel resolution is a disappointment in a premium Android tablet. That's the same resolution found in the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HD (*Est. $200 and up) and Google Nexus 7 (*Est. $200 and up), and less than half that of the highly regarded Google Nexus 10 (*Est. $400 and up).
Stacked with extras. The entire Galaxy Note 10.1 experience revolves around the touch-sensitive S Pen stylus; the tablet ships with several drawing and handwriting apps designed to take full advantage of the input device. Unfortunately, few Android apps aside from those support stylus functionality, although Samsung's helpful S Suggest app identifies stylus-friendly apps in the Google Play Store to which the Galaxy Note 10.1 has full access.
The device includes an IR blaster paired with the Peel Remote Control app, along with Samsung's AllShare Play app that lets you stream pictures and movies to DLNA-compatible TVs on the same Wi-Fi network. Additional apps make sharing with other Samsung mobile devices seamless. Galaxy Note 10.1 owners also get a free two-year, 50 GB Dropbox cloud storage subscription, which augments the 16 GB of onboard storage that's comparatively paltry for a premium tablet.
The tablet's two cameras work well, but aren't anything special. The base Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 sports only Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but 4G LTE-equipped versions are expected to hit AT&T and Verizon shelves before the end of 2012.
Little to complain about. This 10-inch tablet is a bit heavier than its competitors, but we see no complaints about the Galaxy Note 10.1 being too bulky. As noted, the quad-core processor proves highly responsive, although some lag occurs when two apps are open simultaneously in multitasking mode. Reflections make it difficult to see the screen if you move too far to one side, although reviewers say that shouldn't be a problem in everyday use.
You pay extra for extra features. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 rocks a high price tag even for a premium Android tablet. If you don't need a stylus or the abundant extra features, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (*Est. $480 and up) and the Google Nexus 10 deliver similar performance with vastly improved screen resolution.
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Cunningham calls the Galaxy Note 10.1 an intriguing tablet, but says its plastic build, ho-hum screen and usual dearth of tablet-optimized Android apps -- especially stylus-friendly ones -- hold the slate back from a firm recommendation. Artists and note-taking aficionados may find it has a lot to offer, however.
Review: Good Ideas, Middling Execution: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Reviewed, Andrew Cunningham, Aug. 27, 2012
Segan heartily disagrees with ArsTechnica.com, giving the Galaxy Note 10.1 an Excellent rating and an Editors' Choice award based on its unusual and handy extras. "The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is the first 10-inch Android tablet to offer compelling, consumer-friendly features the iPad can't match," he says.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (Wi-Fi), Sascha Segan, Aug. 15, 2012
3. Laptop Magazine
Laptop Magazine says the multitasking and note-taking abilities of the Galaxy Note 10.1 make it "a better productivity tool than other Android tablets." The Galaxy's high cost, low-resolution display and other small flaws make the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity a better premium Android option.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review, Michael A. Prospero, Aug. 17, 2012
4. Computer Shopper
Harrel loves the Galaxy Note 10.1's mixture of powerful performance and productivity focus, giving the device an Editors' Choice award in this benchmark-stuffed evaluation. "Combine all the cool new stuff with a faster processor and the best battery life we've seen on an Android slate, and you get not only the best Samsung tablet to date but also a very strong contender in the high-end Android tablet market," he says.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review and Ratings, William Harrel, Aug. 23, 2012
5. Notebook Check.net
Strong benchmark results and interesting features lead Notebookcheck.net's reviewer to fall in love with the Galaxy Note 10.1, as well. "The exceptionally good performance of the 10.1-inch tablet surprised us," he says.
Review: Review Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (GT-N8010) Tablet, Patrick Afschar Kaboli, Aug. 31, 2012
The hit-and-miss reliability of the Galaxy Note 10.1's S Pen stylus and its apps tempers CNET's enthusiasm for the device, although Franklin still calls it the best tablet to date by Samsung.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review (32 GB), Eric Franklin, Aug. 15, 2012
TheVerge.com isn't as impressed by the Galaxy Note 10.1, slapping it with a far below average rating of 5.4 out of 10. "A pretty good pen system built on top of a disappointing Android tablet still makes for a disappointing Android tablet," Patel says, then suggests buying a $200 Google Nexus 7 tablet instead.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review, Nilay Patel, Aug. 15, 2012
The Galaxy Note 10.1's price tag is its major stumbling block, Volpe says; at $500, other tablets offer vastly improved displays and/or quad-core processors, among other features. "Ultimately, no matter how deftly executed and streamlined the S Pen experience may be, this tab still feels like a niche device, especially since the suite of compatible applications is still pretty small," he says.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review, Joseph Volpe, Aug. 15, 2012