GADGET WATCH: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Despite its ongoing tussle with Apple, Samsung is enjoying a good ride in the consumer electronics scene. With a few smartphones and tablets out right now that have captured consumers’ attention, the Korean giant is doing well.

Its latest effort, the Galaxy Note 10.1, comes after the release of its Galaxy Note smartphone earlier this year. While it was praised, it was criticised for being too large for easy use.

So can the 10.1 version do any better?

Hardware and Features

The Galaxy Note 10.1 features a 10.1-inch screen, powered by a quad-core 1.4 Ghz processor and 2GB of RAM. It features 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage, while a microSD slot allows up to an additional 64GB.

The 10.1 inch screen has an 800×1280 default resolution, while connectivity includes Wi-Fi, the ability to create a hotspot, and microUSB and USB support.

There are two cameras. One is a five megapixel LED flash lens, while the secondary camera is 1.9 megapixels.

The device comes loaded with Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

What’s the consensus?

Part of the attraction for the 10.1 is the use of its stylus. There are a bunch of tablet users who prefer to use a stylus rather than their fingers, and Samsung’s latest gadget provides them an opportunity to do so.

However, The Verge has spotted some cosmetic problems straight away. For one, the build reportedly feels too much like plastic, which can actually flex in the users’ hands.

“Not only does the plastic back flex in your hand, but the shiny finish quickly picks up fingerprints and other smudges, belying its faux brushed-metal texture. It all just feels a bit cheap — a stark contrast to other Samsung tablets like the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the decidedly-premium feeling Nexus 7, which costs just $199.”

However, it did praise the use of the stylus, which fits into the slot at the bottom of the device. In fact, it said the S Pen is the “best integrated stylus system around”.

“It’s actually sort of odd to use a pen on a 10-inch tablet; using the Note feels much more deliberate and measured with the stylus compared to swiping away with a finger.”

TechRadar also noted the handwriting recognition has improved this time around, saying “we were able to scrawl notes quickly, and have them accurately changed into editable text”.

“When we did make a mistake, with a drawing or note taking, turning the S-Pen upside down meant it could be used an as eraser, which was a very natural experience.”

Over at PC World, the publication praised the Ice Cream Sandwich update, although warned it wasn’t for “Android purists”, which does come with some downsides.

“Most of the overlays and modifications make for a friendlier experience, though having multiple paths to accomplishing the same thing can sometimes be more confusing than helpful. In particular, I quickly tired of the pop-up utility launcher that runs along the bottom of the screen, simply because it was easy to launch accidentally.”

It also had good things to say about the interface, noting the dual-screen ability, and multitasking.

Back at The Verge, the publication wasn’t as glowing about performance. It noted the 1.4Ghz processor, and said even with that power and 2GB of RAM, the tablet felt laggy.

“Just flipping between homescreens can result in some stuttering when you hit a widget-heavy layout, and I even noticed occasional slowdowns when simply swiping the lock screen to open the device. The Note is simply not as smooth or responsive as the Nexus 7, and it’s so far behind the iPad that the comparison doesn’t really seem fair.”

Who’s it for?

There are some good things about the Note, especially the use of the stylus and the larger screen. But the rest of the tablet doesn’t necessarily hold up that standard.

For users looking for an Android tablet, the Nexus 7 is at the top of the market. When it comes to that type of comparison, the Galaxy Note just can’t hold up – even with a good stylus.

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