The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is an evolution of the original Galaxy Tab 10.1’s design. To hold the two devices side by side reveals many similarities and a few obvious differences as well. The two devices feel very similar in the hand, however, save for a couple of minor gripes with the Galaxy Note 10.1 that aren’t present on the previous-gen Galaxy Tab.
The Galaxy Note 10.1’s dimensions are 10.32” (h) x 7.08 (w) x .35 (d) and the device weights 1.32lbs. If you look back at the specifications of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, it is just a hair smaller at 10.1" (h) x 6.81" (w) x 0.34" (d) and a touch lighter at 1.31lbs. For all practical purposes though, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is essentially the same size as its predecessors. The slight differences in size and weight are not perceptible when holding the device.
If we take a tour around the Galaxy Note 10.1, there is something to see on every edge and surface, save for the short sides. Along the top of the device you’ll see the Note 10.1’s 3.5mm headphone jack, and IR emitter, microSD card slot, volume rocker and power button. On the bottom edge is a proprietary power/dock connector adjacent to a small hole for the Note 10.1’s microphone. On the back side, you’ll find the device’s 5MP camera with LED Flash situated at the top and a slot for the Note 10.1’s S-Pen stylus.
Flip the Galaxy Note 10.1 over, and the 1.9MP front-facing camera is visible and the screen is flanked by a pair of oversized (for a tablet) stereo speakers.
The front mounted speakers are excellent and should be standard on tablets where media consumption is king. Sound quality is very good in comparison to other tablets and the device offers excellent volume, but don’t expect any heavy bass. Unfortunately, moving the speakers to the front of the Galaxy Note 10.1 also results in one of the devices shortcomings. When you’re holding the Note 10.1 from the sides, your fingers will rest above the edges of the device’s metal bezel. And there is a small, but noticeable ridge present around the entire rim of the screen. Not only can that edge detract from the in-hand feel of the Galaxy Note 10.1, but moving the seam between the front glass and edges of the device to the front seems to negatively affect rigidity. The Galaxy Note 10.1 still feels good in the hand, but as you rotate it and grab it from different angles, it’s not uncommon to hear a slight creak or even feel the back flex a bit. The material quality is there; in fact the back, glass, and metal edges feel identical to the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which was highly praised. But the slight design differences result in some unpleasant side effects, unfortunately.
As for the display on the Galaxy Note 10.1, it’s somewhat standard fare. The brightness and viewing angles are excellent as we’ve come to expect from Samsung. Touch responsiveness is very good as well and color saturation seems more realistic than and not quite as over-saturated as some previous-gen devices, with bright whites and dark blacks. The screen offers very good image quality, but we do wish it had a higher resolution. We’ve been spoiled by Asus’ and Apple’s high res screens and wish Samsung had opted for a screen with more than 1280x800 pixels.