Galaxy Note 10.1

Reworked since its announcement six months ago​, we take the new Galaxy Note 10.1 for a spin.

Hey, look at that. Some six months after we first got our hands on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it's finally time for this touchable tablet to hit the streets. We're live at Samsung's launch event this morning in New York City, but we've already gotten a second -- and much more fresh -- look at the tablet.

When I reviewed Acer’s latest Iconia Tab last month, one of the things that left a bad taste in my mouth was the A700’s lack of innovation-- with a seemingly endless onslaught of tablets flooding the market, nothing seems to differentiate one from the other. Sure, Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 and RAM and ROM look impressive on paper, but in hand, the latest beefed-up tablet has almost no difference from the older models. With the Galaxy Note 10.1, however, the tides have turned, and dare I say Samsung has finally released a tablet that stands out among its competitors.

Read on for our latest look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

The Note 10.1 is a natural evolution of current tablet specs from Samsung; included here is the same quad-core processor as the international Galaxy S III, along with 2GB of RAM, 16 GBs of internal memory, microSD expansion, and a built-in infrared blaster for "Smart Remote" functionality. Hardware remains fairly modest, with a TFT display at 1200 x 800 pixels and a plastic shell nearly identical to almost everything Samsung has done in the past year. If these specs sound foreign to you, be reminded that Samsung left the Galaxy Note in Barcelona and went back to the drawing board, reworking both the internals and the tablet’s appearance. (Much like it did with the original Galaxy Tab 10.1) But claiming the title of king of the spec wars isn’t what the Note 10.1 is here to do; Samsung is calling its latest tablet a shift from “content consumption” to “content creation," and a quick tour of the new Note will make this apparent.

Samsung has put a lot of time and effort into the user experience here, hell bent on shifting consumers' focus from hardware to software. On board you’ve got the standard overlay of TouchWiz atop Ice Cream Sandwich (Jelly Bean is currently “being studied”), with some added goodies such as video pop-up and "multi-screen" for certain apps (think Internet, Video, Email and Notes in a dual-screen layout) for a “true” multitasking experience.  But unleash the on-board stylus S-Pen, which has gotten smarter since its first iteration on the OG Note, and you’ll see where content creation comes into play. This new S-Pen is pressure sensitive, and coupled with the built-in Wacom digitizer, tasks like Photoshopping pictures, doodling, and note-taking take on a whole new level of sophistication. This revamped S-Pen has new tricks up its sleeve that will make the last generation stylus look ridiculous: your Note will know when the stylus is about to make contact, enabling functionalities such as hovering to open drop down menus without the need for clicking. Samsung says that capabilities like this finally make internet browsing on-par with a desktop experience.

Galaxy Note 10.1.

Samsung is doubling down on its S-Pen, which in all fairness is the true star of this release. The Note will come packed with S Note, Polaris Office, and Photoshop Touch, and Kno E-Textbooks to take full advantage of the technology, while the S-Pen will include five additional pen tips, including two plastic and three rubber, to vary the experience. Samsung will also sell S-Pens of varying sizes and girths to fit just about any taste (be mindful, though, that only the included S-Pen will fit nicely in your Note 10.1).

We’re getting another go at the Note today in New York, where we’ll dive deeper into the Note’s Touch Wiz and S-Pen-enabled goodies. You too will be able to dive right in tomorrow, August 16, when the Note hits American retailer shelves in both White and Blue. Grab it at Best Buy, HH Gregg, Office Depot, Amazon, and Tiger Direct starting at $499 for the 16GB model and $549 for the 32GB flavor. 

There are 48 comments

TemporalBeef says:

That post was almost unreadable.

hmmm says:

It's pretty ugly. I like the speaker location though if those are speakers on the left and right that actually face the user and are separated enough to make stereo sound noticeable.

smotrs says:

I like it and I see absolutely no reason for Apple to get there panties in a bunch. Only thing I may have changed if I could was having smaller borders around the screen. But they probably couldn't with the speakers, connection ports and buttons.

XChrisX says:

But lets be fair here, minus the small silver bezel, this looks like an iPad of sorts. Sure you can argue there's only so many ways to make a tablet, but prior to the iPad none of the old netvertable Windows tablet's looked anything like an iPad.

krauseke says:

And ever since they started making flat screen TVs, you can't tell them apart with out looking at the tags. Apple is all upset because it looks like an iPad. It's hard not to make it look like an iPad - it's a tablet. Ever compare an HP to a Dell? Or a Blackberry to some LG phones? It's nearly impossible to make it so different that it doesn't "resemble" something else just due to form function and the fact of what it is...
Prior to the iPad the tablets were convertible and had HW and design restrictions. They aren't even the same size....

dugndublin says:

Agree. I have two iPad's and it looks nothing like an iPad. Other than the fact it "is" a tablet. From that reasoning my Nexus 7 looks like an iPad. If anyone thinks it looks like an iPad, they you don't know what an iPad looks like.

3mp3ror says:

Yes, let's take away the differentiating factors in design to make it look more like the iPad and complain that it does.

Take away the design cues from every other brand and they all look like iPads... Dumbest comment ever.

robotaholic says:

Oh shut up. Let's do be fair. It does NOT look like an iPad. It has stereo speakers (the iPad has 1 speaker), it has 2x the ram of an iPad, an S-Pen, it has widgets!, sending files over bluetooth, a file manager, 4 faster processors, microSD support up to 64 gigabytes, an infrared port!, a larger screen by almost half an inch than even the New iPad, it is .52 grams lighter, and it says fucking SAMSUNG all over it so just shut up you idiot.

I think the reason for the extra silver bezel besides speakers is to try to curb lawsuits. Smart but, some may not like it.

jedah says:

Jelly Bean... "being studied"? WTF is there to study? How about lag-free drawing with project butter?!

XavierMatt says:

"Jelly Bean... "being studied"? WTF is there to study?" - LMFAO!!! Possibly the best comment I have ever read on AC in a year! hahaha - So True.

DaVince says:

It's called software development.

It may look like a simple upgrade. But what do we know?

I haven't seen any pictures of a blue one........

codeda says:

Can't tell if I want one just to want one.... Probably better to just wait for the note two. I already have a tablet. Damn technology sucking me in!

terrycanfly says:

the only thing that resembles an ipad on this device is the overall size. the reason no new devices resemble the old bulky windows devices is because the technology allows for thinner lighter designs and the old bulky designs were unsuccessful. plus if they made a device like the old designs they would still get sued. the patent law suits are getting out of hand. i should patent how to properly paint on a canvas and sue any artist that sells artwork for infringing on my methods. i can understand if Samsung was stealing exact coding and exact logos and exact design. its fair competition if someone can make something similar and do it their own way and do it better. its similar to sports cars. a lot of them look the same and the concept for them are all the same. all these lawsuits would be like the car manufacturers suing each other because they all mimic eachother in speed and acceleration

robotaholic says:

The iPad is 9.5 inches, this is obviously 10.1 so it is > half an inch larger which when measured diagonally adds a lot more screen real estate. iPad Weight: 652 g ; SGN10.1 weight: 600 g

TenshiNo says:

Actually, the car analogy was what I was thinking of exactly.

Here's another one for those that think Apple's not just doing all of these lawsuits because they're little babies wetting themselves over how badly they're being beaten in the market: next time you're in Wal-Mart, head on over to the kitchen appliances section and tell me (honestly) if you can tell the coffee makers, toasters, etc, apart without looking at the brand names.

Sometimes, the function of a device necessitates certain things about it's form. A tablet with a screen in the shape of a triangle probably wouldn't sell all that well. And to say "Apple invented the tablet, so no one else should be allowed to make one!" is silly because 1) the statement is wrong and 2) you're just being an elitist hipster at that point. We do not acknowledge your skinny jeans here. Please move along ;)

johnnyfr03 says:

In what does it look like that square non-desirable thing called an ipad? The ipad wished it had style and looks.

i1der says:

Nexus 7 can be charged with micro USB but others cant? WHAT KIND OF WITCHCRAFT IS THIS?! It can be done, stop with the nonsense!

knightfall says:

Why is it so hard to get a solid cost and release date for US (or Canada in my case). I keep Googling but I'm not finding anything.

I want to sell my PlayBook and pick up an Android tablet, but I'd like to know if I can even afford this Note 10.1 or just go pick up an Asus.

vangtommy says:

I'll pass on this one. Already have an Asus Transformer Prime and it still slows down somewhat. These specs are not enough to get me to upgrade even with the s-pen. Give me quad core A15 with better graphics chip and higher resolution and I will think about it.

Davest says:

When I first saw that this was coming out today, I instantly began thinking that I would probably return the TF700 I just bought a few days ago and exchange it for this. The one problem? The screen. This has nearly identical resolution to the 4.6" screen on my GNex...won't the pixels be the size of golf balls? It's a real shame that they couldn't have fitted this with a modern screen...I'd have paid $75 or $100 more to get decent resolution.

hegemon13 says:

Seriously? That resolution is 720p. You know, a resolution that is almost indistinguishable from 1080p on TVs up to 40". And look at a 50" 1080p TV. Sharp and beautiful, despite the fact that it has the same resolution as your 10" tablet (once you factor out the notification bar). So, no, the pixels won't be large. Probably not even visible. And it will perform better because the video won't be pushing twice the pixels.

dchawk81 says:

Except TVs aren't used for much text...or even still photos. Constantly moving pixels (aka video) are a lot more forgiving with respect to resolution. That's because you don't get a chance to actually see them.

Hook your computer up to your 40 inch 1080p TV via HDMI and just stare at the desktop; it'll look like crap. Open up the browser to stream hulu and it'll be fine. Same screen, different purpose.

Davest says:

I also don't typically watch my 50" TV from ten inches away. Give it a try - I suspect you'll be able to see a difference between the TV and your phone or tablet.

It's a simple equation - if the screen is the same size, and the resolution is halved, the pixels will be twice as large. I can only guess that they were reaching for a certain price-point, and that to make that price-point they had to cut something somewhere, and the thing that got cut was the screen.

dchawk81 says:

That too. Billboards have "pixels" that are about a foot high. You just don't realize it because you're going 60 miles an hour and start reading it from half a mile away.

cjb44 says:

Can you get 4G on this or is it just wifi? Also anyone know the cost of replacement pens? I love my Galaxy S3 and wouldn't mind a tablet to match (I'm more of the anti-Apple type)....although I'm thinking I'm better off with a Nexus 7 considering the price difference.

I believe I read somewhere that the 4G version will be available "later in the year"

Big difference between this and the iPad is that you can actually do real grown up work on the Note. I have had mine for two weeks and love it. I have owned 15 tablets including Windows, Android and Apple. This meets all of needs better than the other 15. The only niggle is that an HD display would put this over the top, but the resolution is not a deal breaker. Video streaming looks better on this than my Samsung Series 9 ultrabook with a 1600x900 resolution.

Commodus says:

You do know that the iPad has more overall professional level tablet apps than Android (including Photoshop Touch), and that the only side-by-side apps are Samsung's own (with massive lag spurts between switches), right?

The Note's main, consistent advantage is that stylus. The catch is having to make quite a few sacrifices (slowdowns, clunky integration, lower specs for the price) to get there.

robotaholic says:

You do know you are drinking Apple's kool-aid don't you? On iOS, apps can not be scaled to meet different screen sizes and so a special application has to be made for the ipad....however on Android the apps actually scale to meet any screen size. Only occasionally will the Android app developer not allow their application be spread out onto a tablet screen. In all actuality, Android has more tablet applications.

If you are so absolutely concerned with lag and aesthetics to the point that you can't see the superiority of this device over an iPad then you actually deserve an over-sized icon grid.

21plays says:


mcleodglen says:

Before people get all excited about Samsung saying the Note will be upgraded to Jelly Bean they may want to do some Google searches on Samsung's promise to upgrade their last round of tablets to Ice Cream Sandwich. Five months after Motorola updated their WiFi XOOM to ICS most Galaxy Tab owners are still waiting for the update Samsung promised "soon" last March. And don't let them tell you it is a carrier issue - I've got a WiFi only and I'm stuck TWO Android versions back. The company is great on promises when they want you to buy something new - they are deplorable when it comes to meeting their commitments after they have your money.

robotaholic says:

Hmm, my Samsung Epic 4G Touch has official ICS, and my 7 inch Galaxy tab 2 has iCS- both with version 4.04. Maybe you shouldn't have purchased the model that you did. And my tablet is wifi only.

xspired2000 says:

I have the 10.1 WiFi model and it received the update yesterday to ICS.

Ommadawn says:

I love my Note, and the release of the 10.1 Note makes me happy as well (though I'm not likely going to buy one any time soon). All the Apple lovers (iMore, I'm deliberately not looking at you) moan that Samsung just copies everyone else, but these devices are new and (so far) unique to Samsung. I wonder if iMore will report on this, and claim it's copying Apple somehow.

Raadius says:

I just saw theverge video review on it, basically it's a POS. Theverge said they even copied Apples Calender with there own and dismissed the stock one that comes with ICS, smh.

I give up on Android tabs, all of them seem to just fail.

plunder says:

Nilay has a point, but I don't think he is a neutral reviewer. This is still a device "on the way to" becoming a good product. Even then, the S-pen makes it a minority interest device. Samsung do need to dump TouchWiz and keep the OS up to date; but they clearly don't want to. As for the Calender app, who really cares?

When Jobs returned to Apple he killed the Newton and stopped the company focusing on a narrow creative consumer community. Apple became the mass market device and service provider it is today - with lots of satisfied accountants. Hence no precision stylus for the iPad, a device that never overreaches itself.

dchawk81 says:

Yeah while I agree it's kind of ghetto looking and the screen is disappointing, I think Nilay is just pissed that he rented a car for nothing. VOX Media must have refused to reimburse that particular expense.

That thing is hideous looking. Now my Asus Infinity 700 is so sleek and has such a beautiful screen its hard to put it down.

Waiting for iPad mini. Only Apple - only hardcore :)

21plays says:

apple hardcore? good one. Apple is the opposite of hardcore.

plunder says:

This is an interesting device. Hopefully it is clear enough of the Apple IP for them to leave it alone. Let Apple focus on selling 10 million iPads a quarter, while Samsung develop and deliver greater creative functionality and apply it to several operating systems.

For Android, we still need a processor and OS bump for S-pen functionality to become properly fluid across all applications; hopefully with a higher resolution screen. Proper dual view multitasking is great, we often need that.

Just where does the Tablet-v-Laptop boundary lie in our "User Hierarchy of Needs"? Modular tablets have the potential to replace laptops, but we aren't there yet. The Asus Transformer showed how the keyboard issue can be addressed (I am using one now), the Note addresses the need for a pen. Once we have fluid voice dictation and natural language command, we will be approaching the kind of universal portable device I would really like to own.

Perhaps when Samsung produce Windows 8 tablets we will see them pull all this together. I would like to see that running Android, but actual functionality is far more important than OS.

21plays says:

I work with graphic designers and they can't wait for this device. pressure sensitive S-pen. Sweet.

mitchellvii says:

I own this tablet. A couple thoughts:

1) The screen is better than the Tab 10.1. Don't ask me why but the colors are brighter and the fonts sharper. Just better.
2) The pen rocks. Just like writing with a pen on paper. If you've been waiting for a large tablet with great pen input, this is it.
3) It's fast. Web pages load faster than they do on my desktop.
4) If the white looks cheap to you get it in dark graphite color. I think it looks nice.
5) It looks NOTHING like an iPad.

If you are looking for a purely eye-candy toy, get an iPad or Infinity. If you are looking for a workhorse tool, buy this. The benefit of the pen outweighs a slightly worse screen.

21plays says:

well said

Johnston212 says:

Ok, I"m a little perplexed here. So, tablets have been coming out for at least a year now and Samsung still doesn't put anything beyond a power port and audio ports onto theirs? Sorry, but I think I will be sticking with my Iconia for now.

As far as the S-Pen goes, I have yet to see any reason as to why it is an absolute game changer. Sure it's a neat perk, but the only thing about it that matters to me is that it is the ONLY stylus currently on the market that actually resembles a REAL pen like look and feel.

ALX1 says:

--"it is the ONLY stylus currently on the market that actually resembles a REAL pen like look and feel."

Duh! You just annihilated your own argument. LOL