TC@MWC: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 Finally Nails The Formula

I’m no great fan of Samsung’s 5+ inch Galaxy Note — it’s just too darned big for me to use the way I want to. The Galaxy Note 10.1 on the other hand pumps up size to a more familiar level, and the end result is a tablet/stylus combo that makes a lot more sense.

But first, a few of the basics. The Galaxy Note features a (what else) 10.1-inch display running at 1280 x 720, a 1.4 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a Touch Wiz-ified take on Ice Cream Sandwich, all of which led to smooth sailing during my brief time with it. It seems to have more than enough horsepower to handle the everyday tasks likely to be thrown at it, though I wish I could say the same for the lackluster 3-megapixel rear camera.

The software that the demo models used wasn’t yet a final version, and it occasionally showed. I won’t go into too much detail here since Samsung is likely working to iron out the kinks as I write, but the bundled Photoshop Touch app initially had trouble detecting how much pressure I was applying with the S-Pen. It eventually caught up though, and didn’t trouble me afterward.

The design and construction is typical Samsung — that is to say, thin, light, and plasticky. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as more than a few people are fans of Samsung’s M.O., though I’m more a fan of HTC’s weightier design choices. The glossy plastic back does make for a mess when it comes to fingerprints, which is much more apparent on the grey model than on the white.

The S Pen that accompanies the tab has also been upgraded a bit — it’s thicker and apparently more precise on the bigger screen, but given my limited experience with the 5-inch Note, I was hard pressed to tell the difference. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

The kindly Samsung rep who held the Note while I took a few photos intimated that she really couldn’t see a difference in accuracy between the 5-inch Note and its big brother. I know, I know, anecdotal evidence, but the most important thing is that the S-Pen worked, and it worked well.

For what it’s worth, I had no trouble at all whipping up a little TC logo doodle, and while the “eraser” on the opposite end of the S-Pen sometimes had a bit of trouble erasing because I wasn’t depressing the nib enough. It’s a more accurate simulation of using a pencil eraser than, say, using a regular capacitive stylus for the job, but I didn’t much care for that bit of sensory feedback.

Personally, if you absolutely had to get one of Samsung’s stylus-friendly doodads, it should certainly be this one. The tablet itself is solid enough — good specs, decent looks, etc. — but overarching concept of the Note line feels so much more appropriate on a screen this size. I can’t say that it’s the most intuitive thing I’ve ever used, but it’s great to see Samsung take an older concept and really make it shine with the right form factor.

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