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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review: The pen sets this Android tablet apart

Melissa J. Perenson | Aug. 16, 2012
With the release of Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 Wi-Fi tablet the venerable stylus takes center stage setting this innovative slate apart from the tablet masses. On Wednesday Samsung officially announces this Wi-Fi only 10.1-inch tablet with prices that start at starting at $500 up to $550. The table goes on sale Thursday. For the past few days I've been testing the Galaxy Note 10.1 Wi-Fi. While the tablet has some rough edges and one glaring omission amongst its specs—it lacks a high pixel density display—Samsung has put together a solid performer that has wide-reaching appeal.

Among the preloaded apps are Barnes & Noble Nook, Netflix, Dropbox, and Peel Smart Remote. As a bonus, you get Adobe's Photoshop Touch app, a $9.99 value that works well with the S Pen input. Even though Samsung scaled back on its pen-specific apps from what it originally showed earlier in the year, it's important to point out that the Note 10.1 benefits from how much effort Samsung has clearly put into integrating software with the pen capability. Other tablet makers have added pens, without the software component, and in those cases the pen becomes an afterthought, not an integral part of how you use the tablet.

Sadly, the selection of S Pen apps in Samsung's own S Suggest guide was paltry at this writing; and many of those that were available were optimized for phone and not a tablet screen twice its size. Hopefully, Samsung will get more app developers on-board with S Pen support, and reveal Note 10.1-specific apps in the S Suggest guide. Only then will the S Pen advantage truly live up to its potential.

Bottom Line

Granted, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 lacks the one competitive spec that other top-tier tabletsspecifically the Acer Iconia Tab A700, Apple iPad, and Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700have at the same or lesser price. Samsung's rendering enhancements help lessen the sting of this omission somewhat, but the difference is clear, particularly with text-heavy content.

But, when you factor in the handy stowaway S Pen and Samsung's pen-optimized software, and suddenly the Note 10.1 gets an edge all its own. Throw in the Galaxy Note 10.1 Wi-Fi tablet's solid performance, and the Note 10.1 is squarely back in the mix.

 

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