Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Quad Core Tablet Review

Introdcution and Specifications

Samsung recently launched the follow up to their Galaxy Tab line of Android-based tablets, the Galaxy Note 10.1. Although the original Galaxy Note's form factor didn’t quite conform to either traditional smartphones or tablets, and some even dubbed it a “phablet”, it has been a huge success for Samsung and has sold millions of units worldwide. With the new Galaxy Note 10.1, not only does Samsung leverage the branding of one of its more popular products, but it’s bringing over some similar technology as well. Along with a few new design queues and software tweaks, the Galaxy Note 10.1 also features Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, which was one of the differentiating features of the original Galaxy Note, along with its funky form factor.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 in "Deep Grey".

In many ways the Galaxy Note 10.1 is similar to the 10.1” Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 2 that came before it, but a few subtle modifications to the design and support for Samsung’s S-Pen technology help set it apart. Unfortunately, some of the things that enhance the user experience with the Galaxy Note 10.1 have also forced design decisions that detract from the device. Despite a few shortcomings which we’ll cover on the pages ahead, however, Samsung has made some clear and distinct progress with the Galaxy Note 10.1 and have created a tablet with some features that truly stand out in a market flooded with “me too” products.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 in action
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (WiFi)
Specifications & Features
  • 1.4GHz Exynos Quad-Core Processor
  • 10.1" WXGA(1280x800) LCD
  • Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Main(Rear): 5 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash
  • Sub(Front): 1.9 Megapixel Camera
  • Codec: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, VC-1, DivX, WMV7, WMV8, VP8
  • Format: 3GP(MP4), WMV(ASF), AVI, FLV, MKV, WebM
  • Playback/ Recording: 1080p Full HD@30fps, 720p HD@30fps
  • Codec: MP3, Vorbis, WMA, AAC, ACC+, eAAC+, AMR(NB,WB),
  • MIDI, WAV, AC-3, Flac
  • Music Player with SoundAlive
  • 3.5mm Ear Jack
Enterprise Solutions
  • Exchange ActiveSync
  • On-Device Encryption
  • Cisco VPN(Virtual Private Network)
  • uniper Junos Pulse VPN
  • Accelerometer, Digital compass, Light, Gyroscope
  • Bluetooth technology v 4.0 (Apt-X Codec support)
  • AllShare Play / AllShare Cast
  • Kies / Samsung Kies air
  • USB 2.0 Host, Samsung
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz), Wi-Fi Direct
  • Wi-Fi Channel Bonding
  • 16/32/64GB User memory + 2GB (RAM)
  • microSD (up to 64GB)
  • Standard battery, Li-ion 7,000mAh
Value-added Features
  • S Pen Experience(6.5mm S Pen, S Note, S Planner etc.)
  • Multi Screen
  • Adobe Photoshop Touch
  • Pop up play
  • Smart Stay
  • Samsung TouchWiz
  • Video Wall
  • Samsung Apps
  • Samsung Hub
  • Readers Hub*/ Music Hub/ Game Hub/ Video Hub*Samsung S Suggest (App recommendation service)
  • Samsung ChatON mobile communication service
  • Google Mobile Services
  • Google Play, Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps,
  • Syncing with Google Calendar, Google Search, Google +Polaris office
  • A-GPS(3G version)
  • S-GPS(WiFi version)
  • Glonass
Form Factor
  • Dimension : 262 x 180 x 8.9 mm
  • Weight : 600g (3G), 597g (WiFi)

The list of specifications above outline some of the Samsung’s intelligent design and engineering decisions, but also show some of the Galaxy Note 10.1’s potential shortcomings.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 with S-Pen

On the plus side, Samsung has powered this device with a proprietary SoC that offers excellent performance. The Samsung Exynos 4 Quad at the heart of the Galaxy Note 10.1 proved to be a beast of a SoC in terms of performance. The Exynos 4 Quad was referred to internally as the Exynos 4412. The chip features quad, ARM Cortex-A9 cores, clocked at up to 1.4GHz, with an ARM Mali-400 MP4 GPU and a 32-bit dual-channel memory controller. It’s the same chip used in the international version of the Galaxy S III, but in the Galaxy Note 10.1, the chip (and the rest of the Note 10.1’s components) are linked to a relatively large 7000mAh battery. The combination of the high-performing Exynos 4 Quad and a high-capacity battery culminate in a device that not only put up some of the best performance numbers we’ve seen from an Android-based tablet, but excellent battery life as well.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 also features 16/32/64GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. The storage configurations are standard for the current crop of tablets, but 2GB of RAM is a definite plus in a sea of 1GB or 512MB equipped devices. In addition, the Note 10.1 sports an easily accessible microSD card slot for users looking to expand their storage options or easily transfer files to the device. An accelerometer, digital compass, flash, gyroscope and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4 & 5 GHz) are also standard equipment.

The Galaxy Note 10.1’s screen, however, while ample in size, is somewhat disappointing. The 10.1” 1280x800 display in the Galaxy Note 10.1 is essentially identical to the display used in the original Galaxy Tab, which debuted over a year ago. We were hoping for some progress in this area, with Asus and Apple both offering similarly priced tablets outfitted with much higher resolution displays.  Let's dig in to a few more particulars.

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