Samsung Galaxy Note10.1 Review

Galaxy Note 10.1

Samsung has a unique ability to release a confusing number of devices that all do very similar things, but with slightly different names and aimed at different audiences. The Galaxy Note is a good example. The phone makes some sense, although it’s essentially a small, 3G, Galaxy Tab. We see the value of keeping the Note range separate, as it feels like a phone – because it is a phone – but when the Note 10.1 was announced, we found ourselves confused. Surely, the Tab should be Wi-Fi focused, and the Note 3G-based. That seems logical to us. But not to Samsung, because it now has two tablets, both doing a lot of the same things, and both available in 3G and Wi-Fi-only variants.

It’s almost like Samsung wants to create confusion and extra product lines that don’t seem to make much sense. Of course, none of those matters to us, we’re just here to review the thing, so let’s take a look at it and find out what’s on offer. Style-wise, there’s nothing new here. You get speakers located on the front – great because you can’t accidentally cover them with your hands. You also get the same controls as the Tab, with power, volume and a microSD slot on the top, along with the infrared blaster, which you don’t get on the Tab. The camera is different too; it’s higher spec and has a flash on the note. As always, tablet cameras are a bit pointless, but we suppose it’s nice to have options.

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And, crucially, on the bottom edge there’s a little hole for a stylus. This, of course, is one of the main selling points of the device, and we’re really glad it fits inside the case, because this means you’ll always have it with you – unless you leave it at home – and that’s what you need, as the pen will sometimes give you options a touch screen on its own will not. Inside, there’s a 7000mAh battery, which is the same capacity as the Tab. It’s a different battery technology though – lithium ion, as opposed to lithium polymer – and estimates suggest you’ll see an hour less life from it than you would on the 10.1 Tab. We’ve used the Note as much as possible in the time we’ve had it, and have no complaints with the battery life. You should see eight hours though, which is reasonable. As always, we attach the usual rider here, because everyone uses tablets differently, and one man’s eight hours is another person’s four hours.

Included software is standard. There’s Polaris office, Samsung’s own app store, which brings with it music, video and reading hubs for you to purchase books, video and music. You can also sync to your computer with Samsung’s Kies or Kies Air, we didn’t test this functionality because we blacklisted Kies a long time ago for being annoying, hopeless, nonsense. Things might have improved recently. We very much doubt it. Also bundled is Adobe’s Photoshop Touch. Usually, this is a paid-for app, but Samsung throws it in, as it’s a natural companion for the stylus. It’s great to see and it’s actually a very handy app; it can certainly move the Note away from being a tablet only, to being a much more credible replacement for a laptop.

Interestingly, we have noticed that on the Note, it’s possible to use 5 GHz WI-Fi; a test of this on the Tab showed that it couldn’t “see” our test 5GHz LAN at all. We also noticed that the Tab needed to disable the Wi-Fi to use Wi-Fi direct – for file transfers between devices – whereas the Note did not. This implies that the Note has twin antennas and the Tab does not, but Samsung’s specs tell a different story. But no matter, 5GHz is very worth having, as there’s far less interference in this range, and speeds can be a lot better too.