Samsung made a bold move late last year (legal issues with Apple aside) by announcing a return of the stylus for its big-screen Galaxy Note smartphone. Just when the last of the PDFs had finally ended up on the scrap heap, the Korean manufacturer reintroduced the S Pen stylus to properly navigate the huge 5.3in screen of the phone, and to good effect.
The design raised many questions about identity for portable devices. Is it just a mutant phone with a pen? Is it a tablet killer? Could it take over the whole portable market?
Answers to these questions and more have come in the follow-up release of Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. But is a follow-up really necessary to a phone that has already seen much of its glory stolen? Let's take a look at the tablet and see.
While functional, it's clear that Samsung has paid more attention to the screen than the overall design of the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. It has the same button configuration as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, a generous bezel around the screen and a slot to house the stylus along the left vertical side.
Overall, it feels a little plasticky, and it wouldn't survive a product launch stampede that Samsung might be hoping for. However this will suit plenty of users since the device is only 600g, enabling easy holding with one hand and drawing with the other.
The big draw of the device is obviously the 10.1in PLS TFT display. It offers a 1,280x800 resolution, which could be higher (the third Apple iPad boasts 2,048x1,536).
It's equally responsive to the finger, the stylus and the fingernail, which will find niche users.
Inside is a quad-core 1.4GHz processor backed by 2GB RAM, which keeps things smooth and enables impressive multi-screen functionality. The screen can host multiple apps and a video window pops up to take over the top half of the screen without any glitches in performance.
It looks as if it will ship in Thailand with Android's Ice Cream Sandwich OS, rather than the newer Jellybean OS. An upgrade will be available later. Other bundled software includes customised versions of Adobe Photoshop Touch and Polaris Office.
It offers good portability with battery power lasting around eight hours, which is an hour or more above average for this class and price.
Is the pen mightier than the finger? Is the stylus back forever? It's a shame that the Draw Something app wasn't more enduring, since this may have been the device to match it.
Users that have rekindled their attraction to the stylus will come to the Galaxy Note 10.1 and will enjoy its good performance and software tweaks such as multitasking.
But as many competitors, even the Apple iPad juggernaut, sell at the same price (sometimes with a better spec), Samsung has its work cut out to move the Note 10.1, which is still overshadowed by its smaller smartphone sibling.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is available unofficially at MBK for around 20,900 baht (16GB). Pricing is yet to be announced for the official global release (in black and white 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models) at the end of this month. Email email@example.com with any gadget thoughts.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Mcleish