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Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview

[MWC 2012] We got a chance to play with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, a device that marks the entry of the “Note” Series as a family of devices, rather than a smartphone name.  To give you some context, Samsung believes that touch devices have not yet realized their full potential and that the use of a pen, in addition to touch, is a fundamental building block in providing a full experience for those devices. The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a 10.1” tablet running on Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). On the surface, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is very similar to a Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1), but with the support for the pen, and the software suite inherited from the Galaxy Note smartphone.

Hardware

However, there are differences: For example, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has a dual-core 1.4GHz processor (SoC), versus a 1.0GHz one for the Galaxy Tab 2, this is a potential 40% boost, which is much needed to handle the “ink” on a high-resolution display.
The front webcam is also much better on the Galaxy Note 10.1: it’s a 2 Megapixel camera, versus a VGA (0.3MP) one on the Galaxy Tab 2. That’s a very noticeable difference in terms of image quality and probably in terms of light sensitivity as well. Finally, the Galaxy Note 10.1 can get up to 64GB of internal memory, versus the Galaxy Tab 2 32GB. Don’t forget that both devices have a microSD memory slot as well.

Software

But it is the software that makes the real difference: the Galaxy Note 10.1 will come preloaded with apps like Photoshop for Android, and during the time that we spent with it, we were impressed by both the number of features present in that version (almost everything that we use as Photoshop enthusiasts is there) and the design of the user interface that is touch/pen friendly. At the moment, we did not have the opportunity to load our own PSD files, so we can’t test for corner cases and big production files.
But has also made sure that Android itself is pen-friendly in the Galaxy Note 10.1, and all the features that were present in the Galaxy Note smartphone can be found in the tablet. I particularly like the quick snapshot ability that lets one capture anything that is on-screen, then quickly add a hand-written note before sharing it with one of the many options available, including email. Samsung is also providing a ton of templates and it is even possible to send complex notes with video-embeds and handwritten notes in the same document.

No integrated pen

Some of you may have noticed that a pen slot is missing from the tablet. While this looks odd, Samsung justifies this choice by saying that the small pen is probably too uncomfortable for a prolonged use on a tablet, so they prefer to provide a larger pen. I understand the rationale, but to be honest, I think that they should have done both: provide a large pen for comfort and a small one to make sure that the user always have something that she/he can use. After all, most of the usage model described by Samsung itself is based on quick notes and share – which a small pen would be perfectly acceptable for.

Conclusion

Other than this little (but potentially important) detail, the last thing that remains is overall performance. While I have no doubt that the classic tablet functions will be fulfilled, I did notice that the demo unit was sometime a bit sluggish to respond. Keeping in mind that this is not a production unit, we are leaving room for improvements and reserve our final judgment for an upcoming complete review. However, this is something that you should look at when the final product comes out.

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