Scribble and doodle on this new Android tablet
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is an Android tablet that can be used with a stylus as well as with your fingers. This seems a little old-fashioned, but the stylus can be useful for taking notes, drawing and other tasks.
The first Galaxy Note was a large smartphone with a 5.3in screen, but this tablet model has a 10.1in screen with a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels. The stylus is stored away in a small nook when not in use. Samsung has modified the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system in several intriguing ways, many of which are supposed to take advantage of the stylus.
The stylus automatically brings up a window where you can launch the included stylus-enabled apps including a notetaking app and Adobe Photoshop Touch. The notetaking app is surprisingly useful letting you quickly jot down scribbles and annotate photos. It can even convert your scribbles into text that can be copied, pasted and edited in other apps, although this is rather sluggish and the results can need editing.
Unfortunately using the stylus isn't as seamless and enjoyable as it should be. The slightly sluggish responsiveness of Android touchscreens that's a mild annoyance on other tablets can be infuriating here. There's often a small but noticeable lag between drawing something with the stylus and it appearing on screen. It's especially noticeable when trying to draw or paint in art apps.
There's currently only a limited selection of apps available that make use of the stylus, both in the Google Play store and Samsung's own dedicated app store. Samsung has promised more stylus apps are on the way though such as Autodesk's Sketchbook drawing app.
Most tablet apps run full-screen which isn't always convenient for certain tasks. The Note can run two apps side-by-side, such as the note taking app and the web browser when can be very handy. This only works with a very small set of the included apps though so it's not as useful as it could be.
A separate but related trick is the ability to run several mini apps, such as a calendar or calculator, which float over the top of other apps. They're basic but can come be useful. Videos can run in a small floating window so you can continue watching while using other apps, but this only works with Samsung's own video player and not other video apps such as Youtube or Lovefilm.
Aside from the stylus and Samsung's Android modifications the Note 10.1 is otherwise is a fairly standard Android tablet. The 1,280x800 pixel screen is bright and sharp and the tablet as a whole weighs 600g which is standard for a 10in model. It's a bit thicker than other tablets due to its stylus nook, but it's not too bad. There's a micro SD memory card slot for adding more storage if the 16GB isn't enough.
The battery lasted nine hours and 13 minutes when playing videos which is good for an Android tablet, although it can't match the iPad 3 which has almost double the battery life. Although the Note has the same 1.4GHz quad core processor as the Galaxy S3 it doesn't feel quite as smooth as that smartphone. Apps such as games run fine, but the web browser often became sluggish although quitting other apps helped.
Read more reviews
This stylus-equipped tablet has promise, but sluggish performance, touchscreen issues and a lack of apps means you should think carefully before buying.
Unusual split-screen mode; Bright screen; Good battery life
Stylus included but touchscreen sometimes sluggish; Extra features have rough edges
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