Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 £499
5th Sep 2013 | 00:45
The top-end tablet gets a spec reboot
Samsung is clearly hell bent on its Note brand becoming the go-to name for primary tablet devices, refreshing its most powerful device with a huge spec upgrade.
The Note 10.1 2014 (henceforth known as the Note 10.1) isn't likely to be cheap though. The previous model came in over £500, and with the updated 10.1 coming as either the octa-core or quad core models both packing 3GB of RAM, there's no doubt things will get expensive here.
At least you'll be able to find out soon, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 release date set for the end of September.
The Note 10.1 not only has all the features we've seen on the new Galaxy Note 3, it also features such a slew of top-end tech that we can't really believe it only comes in at a maximum of 545g.
Certainly it feels really light in the hand – perhaps not at the same level as the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, but its lighter than the iPad for sure. It's also got the S Pen, imbued with all new powers, as well as being given a tart up in the design stakes.
It's still not as easy to use as Samsung would have you believe, with things like handwriting still miles away from the tactility of paper and a pen but it's definitely closer.
Samsung's new faux-leather effect is certainly going to draw in some criticism. It's an odd choice to go for from the all-plastic affair of before and it feels a bit cheap to be trying to attempt a premium finish without offering the materials to back it up.
That said, it's at least different to all the other devices out there and it does give the air of a proper notebook, which is what Samsung is clearly after.
However, that cheaper feeling has extended to the bezel and buttons too, with the metallic, ridged plastic being nice enough to hold but not feeling good under the hand, especially given the price you'll probably have to pay.
There's not a lot else to the Galaxy Note 10.1, but we would say that it's fairly well balanced, as it's possible to hold it in the hand for an extended period of time without getting an achy breaky wrist.
CPU and battery
With the CPU, Samsung has gone all out on the Note 10.1. While the previous iteration didn't exactly skimp on specs, we're seeing a lot more here: the 2.3GHZ quad core option is much better than before, and with 3GB of RAM this is going to be a device that keeps on giving... in theory at least.
The only reason we're keen to offer that caveat is that the Note 10.1, like the Note 3, has a lot going on. A LOT.
Not only are you getting Android 4.3 from the off, but there's also a the S Pen to control, a whole new multi-tasking system to play with and more windows to open and close than you can shake a stylus at.
We worry that filling the Note 10.1 with proprietary apps may result in a catastrophic slowdown over time, but there was nothing in our early testing to say this might be the case.
Battery is likely to be pretty efficient as well, thanks to the 8220mAh power pack under the hood. There's the usual array of ports to be connected into as well but they just serve to highlight that the battery isn't removable - although that would be odd with a tablet of this size.
Samsung has decided to try to make the Note 10.1 one of the most powerful in the world, and it seems to have achieved that goal.
Samsung looks unlikely to ever give up on TouchWiz - and with so many devices being sold running the overlay, why would it? It still works on the tablet platform and, while it can look a little childish to some, it's a rich interface that gives you a lot to look at all the time.
The main home screens are easy to flick through and we were pleased to see that Samsung's content hubs were finally available on a tablet rather than just the Samsung Galaxy S4.
There's no Group Play app present on the Note 10.1 but we can't see that being a bad thing as we're not sure of the real point of it anyway.
The other main change to the interface is the S Pen's ability to call up a small 'fan' of functions, and all of these work so much better than they did before. Be it wanting to start a search, clip out important parts of whatever you're looking at or draw a small box on the screen to call up things like an alarm or calculator, using the S Pen has become much more user-friendly.
We like the way the S Pen now controls something more than a disparate bunch of apps and the small fan is great in that it can be opened up from anywhere within the tablet.
Scrapbooking worked really well, although you'll need to spend at least two or three days trying to understand all the nuances of the app (as well as why you'd need to do such a thing).
At least it looked nice.
Samsung has been talking the upgraded screen on the Note 10.1 up - and we have to agree this is worth shouting about. The Super Clear WQXGA (2560 x 1600) LCD is one that really shows off the best of everything, be it browsing around the web without needing to zoom in or watching video that oozes detail and drips with colour.
The clarity is actually startling - and with nearly 300dpi on offer it's a rival for many others out there at the moment.
It's unlikely you'll want for storage with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 thanks to up to 64GB of onboard space being available, and the chance to add more through a microSD card slot.
You'll need that treatment if you're going to whack in a slew of new music, as like the LG G2, Samsung has gone big on audio quality in the Note 10.1, allowing for 14-bit sound at 192KHz. It's an impressive spec, and one that will have many reaching for the upgraded cans to get the best out of their new tablet.
Samsung has been a little all over the place when it comes to is tablet strategy in the past so we're relieved to see it finding some focus, at least at the higher-end.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is the tablet that finds all the best bits of Samsung and pops them neatly under the hood of a well-packaged device, and can be called a real companion for the Note 3 thanks to the extra power.
The price is likely to put some people off - but until we see what that is, we'll reserve judgement. Unless you're desperate to play with an S Pen all the time, then you might want to consider some of the excellent rivals too.