Sunday, March 11, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (Wi-Fi)

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Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 is a 10-inch Android tablet which includes the pressure-sensitive Wacom stylus technology from the Galaxy Note 5-inch "phablet," ($299.99, 3 stars) but with a large-enough display to actually use it well.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a plastic-backed, 10-inch tablet that's thin at 8.9mm, but isn't on the cutting edge. The way the Note 10.1 stands out from other Android tablets is by being built specifically to draw or write on.

The pressure-sensitive "S Pen" is one of the best things about the Galaxy Note, but it's knocked out by a lack of supporting apps and by the Note's generally odd shape. On the Note 10.1, the new S Pen—a little thicker, more solid, and able to detect harder pressure on the screen—compels. The Galaxy Note also lacked software that showed off the S Pen. The 10.1, on the other hand, will come with special pen-friendly versions of Adobe Photoshop Touch and Adobe Ideas (which is like Illustrator) and will ship with available drawing apps: Zen Brush and Omni Sketch for adults, and Hello Crayon for kids.

The tablet has good pressure sensitivity, and it's responsive. There's none of the lag that so frustrated me when I was trying to test styli on Android tablets recently. The Galaxy Note 10.1 will also probably work with any other Wacom-compatible stylus, Samsung says. That makes it a potential killer tablets for artists who are already in the Wacom ecosystem.

Another new trick: the Note 10.1 has a split-screen option so you can run two apps side by side, in limited cases.

As we saw before on the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus ($399, 3.5 stars), Samsung's U.S. Apps store will highlight apps in the Android Market designed for the tablet, helping to work around the lack of a good list of tablet apps in Google's store.

Spec-wise the Galaxy Note 10.1 keeps pace. It will come in Wi-Fi-only and AT&T-compatible HSPA+ models (although the company didn't confirm any U.S. carriers). It has a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, a 3-megapixel camera on the back, and a 2-megapixel camera on the front. There's an IR emitter so it can work as a TV remote. It runs Android 4.0 and will come in 16, 32, and 64GB models, all with an extra memory card slot. The 7,000-mAh battery will likely run the tablet for long periods.

Interestingly, the 1280-by-800 screen is the same resolution as the much smaller Galaxy Note's screen, but it's a lot more usable. Square inches matter. The built-in S Note program spawns a window to the right of your Web browser, so you can take notes while still surfing, for instance.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 will appear in the second quarter of this year, Samsung says. It'll cost more than the standard Galaxy Tab 10.1 ($499, 3.5 stars), so I'm expecting around $600 for the Wi-Fi-only model.


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