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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 preview

Introduction

Taking a second to think can result in second thoughts. In the Galaxy 10.1 Note’s case it resulted in a second pair of CPU cores and double the RAM – a lethal combination, which only a select few of its foes dare stand against.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 official photos

This is in case you wondering why you’re a reading another preview of a tablet that should’ve been launched a good couple of months ago. Sent back to the drawing board shortly after its official announcement, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 starts fresh after a reboot. And we have no choice but start over.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 at a glance:

  • Form factor: Tablet
  • Dimensions: 262 x 180 x 8.9 mm
  • Weight: 600g
  • Display: 16M-color 10.1″ PLS LCD capacitive touchscreen of WXGA resolution (1280 x 800 pixels)
  • OS: Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, TouchWiz UI
  • Chipset: 1.4 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU, Mali-400MP GPU, Exynos 4 Quad chipset, 2GB of RAM
  • Connectivity: Voice and data connectivity with quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and quad-band (850/900/1900/2100 MHz) UMTS, 21 Mbps HSDPA and HSUPA 5.76 Mbps support, video calls, dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Assisted GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, 30-pin connector
  • Memory: 16/32/64GB of inbuilt storage, expandable via a microSD card slotCamera: 5 MP autofocus camera, LED flash with 720p video recording, 1.9MP front-facing camera
  • Battery: 7,000mAh Li-Ion
  • Misc: Infrared port, gyro sensor, accelerometer sensor for automatic UI rotation, ambient light sensor, Adobe Flash Player 11 support, DivX/XviD support, TV-out (adapter required), USB host (via an adapter)
  • Proprietary 30-pin connector for charging and connectivity

So, the stylus-driven tablet has the same heart as the Galaxy S III beating beneath the 10-inch screen and twice the RAM to run the rich set of apps trouble-free. The Galaxy Note 10.1 doesn’t run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean yet, but it comes preloaded with fantastic apps like Adobe’s Photoshop Touch and Ideas. Not to mention Samsung’s home-brewed S Note, S Memo and S Planner.

Al in all, what was simply the artistic twin of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is now a supercharged version that belongs right in the premium class.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 live photos

Now that we know how the Galaxy Note 10.1 has changed on the inside, let’s try and spot the differences on the outside.

Design and build quality

The Galaxy Note 10.1 still looks a lot like the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 but there are minor changes all over the design. As a result, the new version doesn’t look as good as the original although, considering the ultra- minimalist design, the difference is very subtle. of the Galaxy Note 10.1. The end result is one properly good-looking Android tablet.

The side bezels (in landscape position) housing the two speakers now continue on the top and bottom of the front of the tablet. In addition, the speakers themselves are now on the inside end of the frame, not in the center.

The hardware design changes continue at the back as well, where the gray accenting houses the camera department. The camera itself is now placed in a rounded square, rather than a circle.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 display

Built around a 10.1-inch PLS LCD screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800, the Galaxy Note 10.1 wouldn’t wow anyone. Android slates such as the ASUS Transformer Prime Infinity and Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD are rocking full HD resolution, and the iPad 3 is in a league of its own.

Despite the average resolution, the image quality is decent. Viewing angles are very good and blacks look reasonably deep (naturally, we’ll take the usual measurements once we get our hands on a retail unit).

Pixel density is nothing to be excited about (149ppi), but big tablets like the Note 10.1 are viewed at a bigger distance than phones, so it’s not much of an issue. Still, if you’ve seen the new iPad, the difference in sharpness is quite noticeable.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 has no hardware controls at the front – it doesn’t need any with Ice Cream Sandwich inside. All you get here is the front camera and some sensors.

A close-up of the front-facing camera and sensors

There’s no earpiece but the slate is capable of receiving and making phone calls in either loudspeaker mode or with a headset (wired or wireless).

The two front-facing speakers are either side of the screen. We found this location to much better for gaming and movie watching than the sides or the back of the slate. And since the speakers are positioned in the upper half of the tablet,covering them with your palms when holding the slate is hardly ever going to be an issue.

he 10.1″ PLS TFT display on the Galaxy Note 10.1 • Stereo speakers

At the top (in landscape) we find the 3.5mm audio jack along with the SIM compartment and microSD slot, both protected by plastic lids. There’s also the Power/Lock button next to the volume rocker.

The busy top side houses the SIM, microSD slots along with 3.5mm audio jack, volume rocker, power/lock key

The microphone is at the bottom, which is something to consider if you’re going to make calls in loudspeaker mode (the mic at the bottom might get muffled if the tablet is docked). Unlike the previous incarnation of the tablet, the latest one has a slot for the S Pen stylus. It’s located at the bottom right, from where the S Pen slides out. Just like on the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 uses a proprietary 30-pin connector for charging and connectivity, which is also located at the bottom of the tablet.

The bottom has the primary mic, the connectivity port and the stylus housing

Single, multi-function ports like the 30-pin connector on the Note 10.1 mean you’ll need a proprietary cable for computer connections, charging and TV-out, which is hardly ideal. You get a cable and charger supplied in the retail package, of course, but if you want to have spares to keep in your office, for example, you’ll have a much harder time finding them.

At the back of the Galaxy Note 10.1 we find an updated 5MP camera with an LED flash next to it. It’s capable of shooting occasional photos and HD videos, although you’ll have to get over the ridiculousness of doing so.

The back of the Galaxy Note 10.1 • A close-up of the camera

Just like before, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is powered by a 7000 mAh Li-Ion battery. There are no official battery life estimates yet, but we’ll be doing our own tests when we get our hands on a retail-ready unit.

The plastic put in use is from the glossy variety rather than the matte one used in the MWC-born Galaxy Note 10.1. It feels very nice to the touch, but can be quite slippery and attracts a lot of fingerprints. Good thing is they are not as easy to spot or at least on our white review unit. You can’t pop the back cover open to access the battery, but that’s to be expected from a tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 can be held with one hand and operated with the other, but at just under 600g you will soon need to find some kind of support. The thickness of 8.9mm feels better in the hand than 9.7mm of the Tab 2 10.1, though the portability of both devices is practically the same.

Build quality is quite good. Our test unit did produce the occasional creak while being handled more roughtly, but the retail version might even get rid of those.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 held in hands

The redesigned S Pen

The S Pen stylus is what makes the tablet at hand a Note device. Debuted on the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, and later in a new shape and form on the original Note 10.1, the S Pen is now in its third form.

It has taken design cues from the original S Pen, but is now squared with softly rounded corners on the sides. It’s shorter too and has lost the clip found on the previous Note 10.1′s stylus. There’s a button on the side of the S Pen, which can be used to perform certain actions.

The white tip is on a spring too, and you can press it against the screen of the Note 10.1 without worrying you’ll damage it. That’s good to know as chances are you’ll be pressing it quite often – the digitizer can sense various degrees of pressure, which is an important feature when drawing. The Galaxy Note 10.1 also supports palm rejection – it can sense when your palm rests on the display when writing or drawing and ignores it.

The new S Pen

Another cool feature of the S Pen is that it doesn’t need to be touching the screen for the tablet to know where you are pointing it. This is especially useful in apps like the preinstalled Adobe Photoshop Touch, which displays a cursor to help you make selections and aim. It’s like the hover touch technology of the Xperia sola, except that it’s much more accurate and responsive here.

 

 

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