|+ Lots of power||- Expensive|
|+ Great screen||- Cheap build, clunky interface,|
|+ S Pen||- TouchWiz is ugly|
|+ Loads of storage||- Battery life could be better|
|+ Decent camera||- Expensive|
"The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 puts performance ahead of aesthetics or ease of use, delivering a powerhouse machine that’s jam packed full of features, but isn’t much to look at and can be a pain to navigate."
While Samsung has been dominating in the smartphone arena for a while now, with one stunning handset after another, its attempts at tablets have been rather more hit and miss. The South Korean company has certainly released enough of them but they’re often lacking in some way, be it a shortage of power or a disappointing screen.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 aims to change that, essentially by up-scaling the company’s impressive Galaxy Note 3 handset to tablet sized proportions to deliver a slate with top specs, a stunning screen and a wealth of features. It sounds great on paper but is it really the Samsung tablet we’ve all been waiting for? Read on to find out.
For better or worse the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 has the same design aesthetic as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. So rather than the plain plastic designs that Samsung is usually known for the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 has a faux-leather back, complete with fake stitching around the edge.
Surprisingly it actually looks quite convincing, especially from a distance, but the illusion is shattered as soon as you touch it, because it feels like cheap, cold plastic, rather than soft leather. There’s a metallic rim around the edge of the tablet which is similarly pleasing at first glance but just as plastic on closer inspection. Overall it arguably looks a little better than past Samsung tablets but it’s a cheap illusion and can’t come close to the quality of the iPad Air or the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.
On the plus side at 540g it is at least slightly lighter than a lot of 10 inch tablets and at 7.9mm thick it’s reasonably slim.
Samsung knows how to make a good screen and the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 is proof of that. The 10.1 inch 2560 x 1600 display is crisp and clear with a pixel density of 299 pixels per inch. It can also be blindingly bright if you turn the brightness up and it has gloriously rich colours.
If there’s anything bad to say about it it’s that the colours are sometimes so vivid that they don’t quite look natural, but this can be tweaked to some extent by picking a more muted colour profile.
Power and Performance
This is a blazingly fast machine, with an almost unprecedented 3GB of RAM alongside a 1.9 GHz quad-core processor. Actually, it’s an octa-core processor, but it only ever uses 4 processors at a time.
We’re not sure it’s quite the fastest tablet around, as the iPad Air would certainly give it a run for its money, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 is still a seriously powerful device. Whatever you use if for you’re unlikely to experience any slowdown.
Interface and S Pen
Beyond the raw specs the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 has a fairly unique selling point in the form of its S Pen stylus. It works surprisingly well, making it quick and easy to take handwritten notes using the S Note app and even potentially proving useful for artists or graphic designers if used in combination with a drawing or painting app such as Sketchbook.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 runs Android 4.3 overlaid with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. It’s an interface which is jammed full of extra apps and features, such as ‘S Translate’ and ‘Group Play’. The problem is that Samsung has also duplicated a lot of Google’s apps, so you’ll find it comes with multiple web browsers, multiple email apps and more, making for a confusing mess of bloat, not to mention the fact that it’s in serious need of a visual overhaul.
One huge positive though is the ability to run two apps side by side. This isn’t a feature that’s natively supported by Android and Samsung pulls it off well, taking tablet multi-tasking to a whole new level.
Onboard storage, Connectivity and Cameras
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 comes in 16, 32 and 64GB flavours and they all have microSD card slots allowing you to boost the storage by another 64GB, so you’re never likely to run short.
For connectivity options you get the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, which are both pretty much standard features of tablets, but you also get an infrared port and there’s a 2G / 4G LTE version of the device available too.
Cameras on tablets are often rarely worth mentioning but the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 actually has a half decent 8 megapixel snapper. Plus it has a 2 megapixel front facing camera and can shoot 1080p video at up to 60fps. It’s a step down from the cameras in Samsung’s flagship smartphones, but with tablet cameras usually seeming like an afterthought it’s nice to find one which can at least take some solid photos.
The 8220 mAh battery in the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 should last you the day if you don’t go mad with games and videos but it’s no match for the likes of the iPad Air which can comfortably last a day no matter what you use it for.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 is the best tablet the South Korean tech giant has ever made, thanks to top flight specs, a beautiful display, loads of storage and loads of features, not to mention the S Pen stylus and side by side apps, both of which help set it apart from the competition.
But it’s not quite the complete package we were hoping for. The design is ugly and Samsung’s TouchWiz interface is a bit of a mess, we’d also love a better battery, particularly given that this things starting price is around £400.
It’s undeniably great though and these little niggles just leave us waiting eagerly for the 2015 model, which could have the potential to truly give the iPad a challenge.
Dimensions: 243.1 x 171.4 x 7.9mm
Screen size: 10.1 inches
Screen Resolution: 2560 x 1600 pixels
Pixels per Inch (PPI): 299
Processor: 1.9 GHz quad-core Exynos
Battery capacity: 8220 mAh
Onboard Memory: 16 / 32 / 64GB internal memory (microSD card support up to 64GB)
Camera: 8 megapixel / 2 megapixel (front-facing)
Operating system: Android 4.3
Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes / Yes / Yes
Bluetooth / NFC: Yes / No
Colours: Black, White
Launch Date: Out now
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