Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition) is a multi-purpose, multi-function tablet that meets a lot of personal and professional needs – it’s both a fun and productive device, with enough speed and power to keep you busy on both.
It’s running the latest Android Jelly Bean OS, it’s loaded with manufacturer- and third-party apps, and its wireless and physical connectivity options will open up still more user options and application possibilities.
There’s Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC (near field communications) built-in, along with the Android WebKit, so the device has lots of communication choices and connection options.
No matter what your task, everything looks great on-screen – apps, documents, photos, HD videos – thanks to the sharp and richly-coloured AMOLED 10.1″ diagonal touchscreen display, and its multi-window feature means you can see and use two open apps at the same time, just like on the desktop.
And, like some desktops – OK, the old fashioned kind where pencils and paper live – the Samsung Note and its S Pen lets you write notes on screen, scribble drawings and save them, navigate the UI and much more.
Pulling the pen out from its storage slot on the side of the tablet triggers a distinctive sound, but more importantly it launches special programs and productivity tools like the Air Command, and its on-screen selector for five different function shortcuts.
There’s an Action Memo tool that turns handwriting into both data and commands, like dropping a scrawled e-mail into your address book, writing down a phone number and calling it, jotting down a URLs and searching for it, and more. Handwriting recognition is as much an art as a science, but the Note’s accuracy and optical character recognition capability seemed good right off the bat. Other shortcuts the Pen calls up on-screen include a handy screen capture and shot saver tool (that includes any handwritten annotations on-screen), a nice lasso function to drag assets into the Note’s Scrapbook virtual storage area, and a universal search tool.
The S Pen also lets you draw a box on screen, which then becomes a second active app window for multi-tasking.
At almost any time, the Pen can be used to bring up on screen menus and tips for tablet navigation and operation, just by pointing and hovering over the screen.
Navaigation aids and device controls are found elsewhere on the Note, such as the two bezel-mounted buttons on either side of the front facing home button, so you can bring up recently used apps or other tablet functions quickly and easily.
Elsewhere on the device, a single Micro-USB charging port (which, with a separate cable, acts as HDMI connector to a HDTV) and microSDXC card for additional outboard storage (32 MB storage is built-in; three GB RAM too).
The Note has both front and read facing cameras, with high quality 8 MB among the size and resolution settings; Samsung’s Camera app is packed with a full range photographic control settings, best exposure templates and special filters and effects, which can be applied as desired. Video recording capabilities (there is a cloud-based video editing program available) also have multiple controls over size and appearance, and all the imagery looks great on the TFT WQXGA 2560 x 1600 screen.
Another application, actually a suite of apps, drew my eye (and pen-holding hand): the Polaris Office 5 suite, with programs for creating and editing documents (docx ), office presentations (saved as pptx), and spreadsheets (.xlsx), all of which are good professional programs for creating and presenting business documents.
Other handy apps (productivity or otherwise) include Dropbox tab (set up or connect to a cloud based account); the Times Reader (smooth navigation through digital stories from the New York Times); and of course, social chat apps, calendar and alarm apps, music listening, movie watching and many more.
The Note and Jelly Band OS are, in fact, loaded with tools, options, features and functions that do take a bit of learning and user orientation (even experienced Android and Note users comment on the learning curve in this latest iteration), and it should be noted that using the Note to its fullest takes an investment of time and money.
Prices for the device can be found on the street at around $600; some service provider packages are ‘promo pricing’ the note at under $200, but as part of a monthly voice and data contract).