Galaxy Note 10.1

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.

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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.