Its latest attempt at a high-end tablet is a new version Galaxy Note 10.1, an update to last year’s 10-inch tablet that comes with a pen.
Samsung’s 2014 edition Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet hits stores October 10, and this top-of-the-line version means to compete with Apple’s iPad (Samsung also offers the smaller, more budget-friendly line of Galaxy Tabs).
Once again, Samsung delivers a product that is rather on the pricey side: The tablet will drop for $549.99 for a 16 GB version and $599.99 for a 32GB versions (Apple’s Retina display 16 GB iPads start at $499). It will come in two different color options: Jet Black and Classic White. (What, no gold?)
The Galaxy Note 2014 Edition had some upgrades from last year’s model, including an even bigger, better 10.1-inch display, as well as enhanced software and stylus pen capabilities. (Samsung’s signature stylus, the removable “S Pen,” is a staple of the Galaxy Note devices and one of the main differentiators from other tablets.)
The Galaxy 10.1 also comes with a MicroSD card slot that lets you add up to 64 GB of memory, has a 8,220 mAH battery that lasts quite well (several days of light use, or several hours of heavy use), and it follows the precedent of other Galaxy devices by running only on Wi-Fi.
Okay, so there was nothing insanely ground-breaking about the new edition, but check out our more thorough review of what was awesome versus what was merely “meh.”
I really liked the Galaxy Note’s multi-window function, which allows you to run multiple apps in a split-screen mode. You can open multiple windows, thus multiple apps, at the same time. A huge benefit of this is the ease of copy-and-pasting between applications (though not every app supports multi-task).
The display of the Note is also undeniably beautiful. Pictures and videos look clear and bright on the high-resolution screen, which has over 4 million pixels. It’s just as sharp as the display on Apple’s iPad. Plus, the 8 megapixel camera takes good-looking photographs in a variety of modes, including “Eraser,” which automatically erases moving objects from the background of any photo by taking a series of five shots.
The device is sleeker than last year’s edition. It weighs less and has a thinner profile, making it smaller overall without sacrificing screen size. The Note is an even better traveling companion than the last addition.
I was also pretty impressed by Samsung’s latest iteration on its partnership with news reading app Flipboard. The Note has an app called My Magazine built in, so with one upward-swipe of your home screen you can browse through personalized news, social, or localized content.
Finally, you’ve got to love the Note’s sweet perks, including three months free of Hulu Plus, 50GB of free Dropbox space for two years, and a 12 week subscription to The New York Times.
Although the device is definitely sleek size-wise, the matte, fake leather finish, complete with “stitching” around the borders, is cheesy. Pair that with the plastic faux metallic edges and the Note 10.1 isn’t as attractive as the iPad. You’re definitely not getting the wow-factor design-wise that you would with Apple.
Also, one of the new Galaxy’s biggest boasting points is its updated S Pen, but I found the improvements a little lackluster, even unnecessary.
The S Pen now features Air Command, which allows you access to several shortcuts anywhere on the screen by clicking a button on the pen. The issue: none of the new S Pen features — Action Memo, Scrapbooker, Screen Write, S Finder, or Pen Window — are really that exciting. Most people will probably end up keeping the S Pen tucked away in its slot.
The S Finder, which is the Note’s new search capability, is probably the coolest. You can search through the entire device (including handwritten notes and settings), connected accounts, and the Web through key words or handwritten symbols, and filter the search criteria in a variety of ways.
The Pen Window feature, which allows you to draw a window of any size on screen to open a selection of applications for multi-tasking, would be more exciting if it allowed you to access a larger selection of apps. Right now it only works with YouTube, the Web browser, email, and few others.
Finally, even though the Galaxy Note 10.1 runs Android’s latest software, the tablet is not exactly intuitive. Samsung has a habit of stuffing its devices with more features than anyone can use, and the result is pretty noisy and complex. If you want to be able to pick up your device and feel comfortable with it right off the bat, you’re out of luck.
The Samsung Galaxy is a great tablet in terms of display and multitasking, but still not quite proving the worth of its high price point. Since we’re expecting that Apple will most likely announce its new iPads in a few weeks, it just doesn’t make sense to buy the Galaxy 10.1 tablet now. You’re better off waiting to see if the iPad can deliver anything that’s better and cheaper.