Product Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 1


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First impressions: 

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Opening the box… box looks good. It has a pen… Visions reel as I recall the days when PDA’s tried to take on the laptop as our mobile accessory of choice. You remember the good old Palm Tungsten. But it’s possible this tablet and pen could be much more usable.

Aesthetics:

Look and feel is good although it has an obvious hard, plastic overtone. Having said that, the plastic doesn’t seem to take away from the device as the screen is crisp and clear. Although the screen resolution is much lower then other devices it was not apparent at startup. Personally though, I prefer the screen to cover the visible area on these types of devices so I was a bit disappointed about the plastic border around the device and then the 10mm or so screen border. The device is longer / wider because of these borders which, in my opinion, detracts from the visual appeal.

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Device Quality stickers: I’m really not sure what they were for but I guess that all the little stickers around the device and screen were for quality assurance. What were they thinking? Samsung must be really worried about the factory production of these devices because there were protective stickers all over it. Several days after opening the pack I still found several really small, clear stickers that were starting to peel like some kind of old wound! I’m being a little picky, I know, but seriously, were they really necessary? Seven clear stickers on the back of the device alone.

Accounts: Okay, I have a Google account already, but was then asked to setup a Samsung account also. Done. Then a drop box account. Done. I tried to skip these and I was given a choice of limited usability or restarting. Fair enough, I suppose – but it seems three accounts are needed to setup the device. Best keep your account details and passwords handy.

Battery life: Okay to average. I’m not really critical here. All these devices have a battery vs use battle and, of course, some apps and games will drain your battery quicker. But overall the Samsung was average.

Camera, Speakers and Media Apps: The camera is clear and takes great pics. I didn’t see any issue with this; it was as good as several others I had used. Sound quality is great for a device of this size and I was pleasantly surprised that playing videos did not require headphones, although you will get some distortion and clarity issues at the top end of the volume. Videos worked without a hitch and I have no complaint about the screen being lower resolution then other products on the market. Keep the power cord handy when playing videos on the Samsung though, as they do suck battery life. I found the media apps to be usable and reasonably straightforward.

Pen: The pen is pressure sensitive – pretty neat – almost mouse like.  I really liked this feature and I think it is one of the standout winners of this device. This really makes the Samsung Note usable for a larger range of people within the workforce; graphical manipulation and editing, system monitoring or remote access, and, of course, just general scribble fun. Techies should find this a huge benefit if they want to do any remote work activities for on-call duties. This feature really has the ability to grab all the notebook/laptop stalwarts that require point and click mobility.

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Phone integration: Another feature that makes this tablet stand out in the market of serious competitors. I know a lot of people will argue the point that it’s not necessary, but I believe this is another feature that will set it apart for a number of reasons.  Within the existing tablet market there has already been a number of people wanting phone/tablet integration. But this is also an attraction for the technical market. They can use the contacts on the same device they are working on to push through an SMS, email or phone call. This will also be important to the earlier mentioned Notebook/Laptop market who want to have a true mobile office – and this device could well replace the office phone and Notebook.
Work Apps: Documents – this is where I found the Samsung somewhat failed. The standard keyboard takes up 80% of the screen leaving very little viewable space on documents. I’m not sure if you can change this but I found it hard enough just trying to remove the keyboard. Call me stupid but it wasn’t completely obvious.
 
Game test: I picked Bejeweled Blitz for this as you require a lot of motion to move the jewels and it’s a fast paced game with a time limit. I had also played the game on two other platforms so any difference would be noticeable – and yes, I’m a little hooked on the stupid game. After forty or so games, I finally dragged myself away! Result – my second largest score on Bejeweled Blitz ever – booyah!  But to be honest I found the movement was noticeably slower then on the iPad and on many occasions I missed the movement due to touch recognition problems. Overall, the game play was not as fluid as it should have been.
 

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Apps and Games online: Android app store. Although this is not specifically a device issue, you need access to the app store in order to enhance the abilities of the device. For starters, I was very happy with the selection of apps. I had some pre-conceived thoughts regarding the Android app store having less than the Mac Store but was pleasantly surprised that most of what I searched for I found.  But – there is always a but – I was honestly shocked by the pricing of many of the apps compared to the Mac Store. In many cases, the equivalent apps were 2 or 3 times more expensive on the Android App Store, which puts the overall affordability of the device into question, particularly for those on a budget.Overall I found the device functional and well rounded. If this were the first Pad-based device you owned I have no hesitation in saying that you will be rapt! However, if you’re coming from the iPad world, you will find it very different and possibly a little frustrating. As previously stated, for technical or art inclined people I really think this device will be very attractive; the pen and phone will tip the scale in Samsung’s favour.

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Rod Byfield

About Rod Byfield

Once a wayward rural kid originally from the small town of Kandos in central New South Wales, Australia. I have always held the belief that given the right environment anyone can achieve whatsoever they desire.


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