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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 review

The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) is the Swiss Army Knife of tablets

Our Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 is the Swiss Army Knife of tablets, offering a slightly compromised tool for almost every job you could imagine.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 800
  • Processor Core : Quad-core (4 Core)
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel

View full specification

For

  • Great screen
  • Improved design
  • Decent camera
  • S Pen a genuine plus

Against

  • Doesn't feel premium
  • TouchWiz UI is ugly
  • Should feel snappier
  • Expensive
Ratings in depth
Design 3 5
Features 4 5
Usability
Performance 4
Value 3 5

Samsung has split its forces in two in the ongoing tablet war, with the entry-level Tab range sitting under the premium Note range. As the biggest device in the elite class, then, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 can arguably be seen as Samsung's new flagship tablet.

That certainly appears to be the case when you examine its specs, too. This is another of those 'throw in everything but the kitchen sink' efforts that Samsung seems to favour.

You're looking at a 10.1-inch 2,560 x 1,600 display, an Exynos octa-core CPU (though only four are used at any one time) clocked at 1.9GHz, 3GB of RAM, a fully featured 8MP camera and an even more deeply integrated S Pen stylus.

If the tablet war were to be judged on bullet points alone, few could stand up to the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. But of course, that's not how it's done. It's decided on look, feel, intuitiveness and seamless performance, and on these counts the Galaxy Note 10.1 still trails behind the iPad Air.

Front angle

That's not to say that this follow-up to last year's original Galaxy Note 10.1 isn't an extremely strong tablet. It's just that the whole is somewhat less than the sum of its parts.

Some of the blame for this can be apportioned to the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014's less than stellar design. While it's a marked improvement over last year's chunky plastic model, it's still a deeply uninspiring tablet to wield, and doesn't feel anything like its £450 (around $740, AU$820) price tag.

Headphone corner

As you might expect given the Note branding, Samsung has stuck with many of the design cues from the excellent Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The trouble is, a desirable look and feel weren't exactly among that device's many strong points.

So, you get the same faux-metallic outer rim and the same faux-leather back, which is far too much faux for my liking. The latter actually makes the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 feel a lot grippier than its predecessor, and the tablet itself feels pretty solid in the hand. But the overriding feeling is one of cheapness.

Needless to say, the contrast with the slightly cheaper iPad Air is not a flattering one for Samsung's latest tablet.

Back

Still, the new Galaxy Note 10.1 has made design improvements elsewhere. It's a fair bit slimmer (7.9mm down from 8.9mm) and lighter (535g versus 597g) than its predecessor and its side bezels are considerably thinner.

This helps reduce that familiar Android tablet trait of feeling too stretched - especially when held in portrait view.

Thickness

Of course, you probably won't be doing a whole lot of that. Samsung clearly intends you to use this full-size tablet in landscape for multimedia and web browsing, as evidenced by the orientation of the Samsung logo and the positioning of its hardware keys.

These are the by-now-familiar Samsung trio of a physical home key flanked by capacitive menu and back controls. The latter two light up when in use.

The volume and power keys are positioned sensibly on the top left-hand edge (when held in default landscape view), and are easy enough to locate when watching a film in a poorly lit room, for example. To the right of these keys is an IR LED, which enables you to use the tablet as universal remote control (more on that later).

Volume power

With the microUSB port situated on the bottom of the device, this leaves the left and right edges free to hold a speaker each, thus providing true stereo - albeit slightly tinny - sound. The speakers' sensible position high up on the device means that you won't cover them when holding the tablet naturally, which is a thoughtful touch that a surprising number of manufacturers don't think to include.

Just below the right-hand speaker is the Galaxy Note 10.1's microSD slot, which permits up to 64GB of additional storage - very handy when opting for the 16GB model that I was sent.

MicroSD  speaker

Finally, just above the right-hand speaker, you have the core feature that makes the Note a Note, and not a Tab. The S Pen stylus is stashed away in a discrete but readily accessible port. A ridged faux-metallic (there's that word again) end serves to blend in with the outer rim from which it protrudes, whilst enabling you to gain some purchase and pull it out.

I'll go on to discuss the S Pen's usability later in the review, but from a design perspective it's a very solid, lightweight and functional but somewhat cheap and plasticky object. Rather like the tablet as a whole, you might say.

S Pen

Of course, the most important component of any tablet is its screen, and in this department the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 is excellent. It's a considerable improvement over last year's model.

Samsung has boosted the resolution two-fold to 2,560 x 1,600, which is the same resolution as the Google Nexus 10. Indeed, as Samsung built that tablet, it's probably the same display. Either way, it offers a similarly impressive picture, with an iPad-topping degree of sharpness at 299 ppi.

Overall, it's still perhaps not quite as balanced a picture as you'll find on a Retina display-sporting iPad, but it's very pleasant to look at nonetheless, and it certainly does vibrant HD content (such as movies and games) justice.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Green CompliantYes
Flash Memory Capacity16 GB
Processor ManufacturerARM
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
HDMIYes
Product FamilyGalaxy Note
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformAndroid
ColourDeep Gray
Operating SystemAndroid 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Brand NameSamsung
Form FactorSlate
Processor Speed1.40 GHz
Processor TypeCortex A9
Screen Size25.7 cm (10.1")
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory1 GB
Weight (Approximate)580 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Memory Card ReaderYes
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
DigitizerYes
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Height257.8 mm
Width175.3 mm
Depth8.9 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
ManufacturerSamsung
Product ModelGT-N8010
Product NameGalaxy Note 10.1 WiFi
Product LineGalaxy Note
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part NumberGT-N8010EAABTU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing InformationNote, the new way

  • The perfect creative tool at your fingertips with the S-Pen
  • Super efficient multi-tasking with unique multiscreeen
  • Enjoy specially designed apps and exclusive content
  • View all your content on a large crystal clear 10.1" screen
  • 3G & Wi-Fi versions available

Choose the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and discover the new way to set your creativity free. It's portable, yet offers multitasking like a PC thanks to its large 10.1-inch screen. Meanwhile, the intuitive and precise embedded S-Pen makes it so simple to take notes, draw, sketch and express yourself perfectly. With S-Note, your note-taking is full of rich possibilities which you can easily put together into a story. Shape Match even lets you visualise your ideas and turn them into quickly into graphs and other finished items you'll be proud to share.

Multiscreen Real multitasking on the portable 10.1" screen
Now, you can do 2 things at the same time. For example, what if you want to see an actor's profile while watching a movie you recently downloaded? Just use the "Multi screen" button and open the internet browser or the S Note. You don't need to stop the movie or the browser so that you surf web or make a note. If you want to copy the image? Just capture and drag it to the S Note opened right next to the web page.

Embedded S Pen: Real Pen-like feeling for a natural writing experience
Precise versatile S Pen enables you to get a premium experience for note-taking, sketching, drawing, and other forms of creative expression.

S Note: The easy-to-use creation tool
7 Templates to express life's every detail.
Make your own story by selecting one of the S Note templates. S Note makes your note-taking and creation rich and neat. * 7 templates: Note / Idea note / Meeting Note / Magazine / Diary / Recipe / Travel.

Adobe® Photoshop Touch: Free embedded creation tool
Now, everyone can create more with ease. You can make fascinating image artworks or edit your photos.

Allshare Play & Cast - Seamless Sharing
Connection to other tablets, laptops or TVs lets you share and experience multimedia together, wherever you are.

Fast & Powerful
You will enjoy the best performance from a very fast and powerful 1.4GHz quad core processor that delivers the most seamless, enjoyable mobile experience. Everything from navigating UI to multitasking to web surfing is made faster and easier; indulge in multimedia on the go without a second thought. Large battery capacity means less frequent recharging because your power lasts longer for more sustained usage.

HSPA+ 21 & Wi-Fi Channel Bonding
Revel in mobile multimedia without restraint or delay with impressively fast transmission speeds that allows you to get your files so much quicker. HSDPA+ is three times speedier, thereby reducing your wait time to a third so you can enjoy your multimedia even sooner. Wi-Fi Channel Bonding also boosts wireless data transmission rates by efficiently using two bonded channels instead of one so you can access web-based content such as movie downloads, music files and games in half the usual time. Wait less, enjoy sooner -- it's as simple as that.

Best Multimedia Experience on a Large Screen
1080p Full HD Playback on a larger screen promises to intensify your viewing pleasure. Whether you're watching downloaded videos, catching the latest viral sensation on YouTube or live streaming, you'll be able to see everything in bright, crystal clear high definition. Cross-platform compatibility with multi codec means you'll never be frustrated by blocked or incompatible files in your downloads, viewing and transfers for a seamless mobile experience.
Package Contents
  • Galaxy Note 10.1 WiFi
  • AC Adapter
  • Stylus