Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch was all the rage at the big IFA consumer tech show earlier this month, but its Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition tablet is the far more practical devices for anyone looking to consume and create content.
TabTimes got a chance to go hands-on with the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean tablet during the show and this writer was instantly struck by its dazzling 2560 x 1600 resolution LCD display, gorgeous leather-like back plate and feather-light stylus. It’s a good-looking device with silver-accented bezels.
I was also impressed with the 8MP camera – which in itself boasts some neat editing features (although no obvious image stabilization), a stylus holder and the tidy connection compartments which protect ports for micro SD and USB.
But underneath the style, there is a lot of substance. The Galaxy Note 10.1 has some high-end specs and some decent tie-ins with prominent news publishers, social networks and enterprise mobility management vendors to make this tablet a versatile investment whether you’re an artist, photographer or knowledge worker.
Big focus on media content
On the media side, digital readers will be delighted to learn that the tablet comes with 14 weeks of free access to The New York Times as well as a whole year of free access to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Users who want to extend this beyond the agreement will need to pay for a digital subscription.
But there are also other ways of keeping up-to-date with the news beyond launching a news aggregator app.
With the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition, Samsung has introduced its own news feature which lets you access content by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
A left-hand sidebar asks you to break down your selection by news, personal or social. Hitting news, you can dive down into news-specific categories like technology and sport, while social lets you tie to Google+, Twitter and Facebook accounts.
(For news, trends and insights about the the tablet market, sign up for the free TabTimes Daily newsletter)
Busy user interface with handy multi-screen mode
As ever, the Android home-screen pages are overflowing with apps and widgets, while the app menu is at the bottom right of all screens (a slight change from previous versions of Android, where the app menu has been stationed in a bottom toolbar or at the top right).
Powered by a rapid octa-core 1.9GHz processor – or quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor on the LTE version -- you can effortlessly swipe between the home screen pages and the image detail is crystal-clear thanks to the 299 pixels per inch screen. (Some context here – the previous Note 10.1 had a 1280 x 800 resolution screen, working out at 149 ppi).
In the apps portal, you’ll notice the integration with Samsung’s enterprise security solution, Knox, which in itself ties in with SAP, Lookout Security and others. Business users will also appreciate the ability to multi-task apps.
For example, you could have the New York Times web page on one side and email on the other, and you could even copy photos or text from one to another.
Is the stylus the killer feature?
One question you’re probably asking right now is ‘why hasn’t he mentioned the stylus?’ With good reason; I am saving the best for last.
The included S-Pen stylus is greatly improved over earlier versions. It is very light, more responsive, easy to hold and feels as natural to write with as any traditional pen. It even has this innovative button – which coupled with the Air Command gesture recognition feature– allows you to quickly open stylus-optimized apps (Action Memo, Scrapbook, Screen Write and S Finder) by hovering over the screen.
These stylus-optimized apps are largely designed for light drawing and note-taking, and one – the S-Note – has been significantly enhanced over earlier versions.
The app, which comes pre-loaded on the tablet, now supports a greater spectrum of colors, lets users move objects around the notepad and even enables business workers to quickly draw charts and convert these into digital, Excel-like creations. Furthermore, they can input values and change variables, just by using the S-Pen stylus.
There are other useful apps on-board, including S-Voice, which Samsung seems to be positioning as an Android voice recognition version of Siri.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition launches in October, with price details still to be confirmed. The tablet will be available in black and white and will come with various accessory options.
(Choosing the right tablet and how specific industries such as sales are leveraging their investment in tablets, will be among the key topics discussed at the TabletBiz conference & expo coming to New York on November 13. Register today).