Preview: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Preview: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Samsung's latest tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1, includes the S-Pen stylus to draw and write on the screen.

Samsung's latest tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1, includes the S-Pen stylus to draw and write on the screen.

The original Galaxy Note sits in between a smartphone and a tablet, but the Galaxy Note 10.1 is purely a tablet. The design of the Galaxy Note 10.1 is largely based on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 but comes with Samsung's S-Pen. It allows users to draw, annotate and write notes on the 10.1in screen.

Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 10.1 earlier this year, but the company has gone back to the drawing board and made a few changes. Most of these changes centre around specifications. The Galaxy Note 10.1 will come with Samsung's own Exynos processor, a quad-core 1.4GHz chip and will include 2GB of RAM. It will also come with a 5-megapixel rear camera. The first version of the Galaxy Note 10.1 announced earlier this year was set to come with a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and a 3-megapixel snapper so the upgrades are definitely welcomed.

We've long complained about Android tablet makers producing more of the same boring slabs but we think Samsung deserves some credit for the idea behind this product. The Wacom-designed S-Pen gives it the Galaxy Note 10.1 a distinct advantage over most other tablets on the market. It was a genuinely impressive feature on the Galaxy Note and is unlikely to be anything different on this tablet. It includes features like pressure sensitivity, the ability to act as a pointing device complete with an on-screen cursor, and even has a white tip on the top that acts as a handy on-screen eraser.

Samsung hasn't just slapped the S-Pen onto the Galaxy Note 10.1 and left it at that, either. The device comes with a range of software specifically designed to work with the S-Pen including Samsung's own S-Memo, S-Note and S-Planner apps. Preloaded Adobe Photoshop Touch and Adobe Ideas apps are both compatible with the S-Pen, while a range of third-party apps are present too, including Touch Retouch, Makeup, Zen Brush, Omni Sketch and Hello Crayon. Samsung has also built palm rejection support into the Galaxy Note 10.1, which aims to cure the problem of accidentally hitting the screen when you're drawing with the S-Pen.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 will run Google's Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android (4.0) out of the box with Samsung's now familiar TouchWIZ UI overlay on top. Expect the Galaxy Note 10.1 to get an upgrade to the latest 4.1 Jelly Bean software later this year, though Samsung hasn't locked down a specific time frame for this just yet.

Despite Samsung going back to the drawing board and bumping up some of the specifications of the Galaxy Note 10.1, we can't help but feel the company has missed a chance to fit a higher definition screen on this device. Apple's new iPad, the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity and the upcoming Acer Iconia Tab A700 are three examples of tablets that have higher resolution screens. In our opinion, this immediately makes them more appealing than the Galaxy Note 10.1's PLS screen, which has a lower resolution of 1280x800 and a pixels per inch rating of just 199ppi.

Samsung is likely to release a total of six Galaxy Note 10.1 models — three Wi-Fi only and three Wi-Fi + quad-band 3G variants in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB sizes, respectively. It's not yet known which models will be released in Australia and how much they will cost Down Under. Given Samsung's history in the tablet market, however, it seems probable that Aussies will get a 3G version at some stage.

Samsung will officially launch the Galaxy Note 10.1 at a media event in the US on Wednesday 15 August.

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