A do-it-all tablet with a gloriously hi-res screen, the Note 10.1 is Samsung’s best tablet yet

Android fans are still waiting for a tablet to take on the full-sized iPad and win.

It’s an order that’s always getting taller – developers still favour the iPad when making and optimising gorgeous tablet apps, and a skinny, near-perfect iPad Air is convincing existing Apple tab users to upgrade. So is it even possible?

Samsung thinks so, and it’s hoping to answer the question “If not iPad, then what?” with the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition.

The new Note 10.1 is in many ways much more clever than Apple’s iPad, and it’s on brains, not beauty, that Samsung’s competing. This 10in tablet comes with the S Pen, just like the superb Galaxy Note 3 phablet. And even though Samsung announced a 12in NotePro whopper at CES, the Note 10.1 is staying put in the line-up.

So what does the Note 10.1 have that the iPad Air doesn’t?

MORE PIXELS

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The Note 10.1 2014 edition’s battle cry goes a bit like this: I have four times the number of pixels as my predecessor – hear me roar!

That’s thanks to an upgraded 2560 x 1600 screen, which is an even higher resolution than the holiest of holies, the iPad Air, and one of the highest Droid pixel counts in existence, equalling Asus’ latest Transformer.

If tablet battles were decided on displays alone, the Note 10.1 2014 edition would be puffing its chest out with confidence by now.

The fonts on Stuff.tv appear as pin-sharp as the witty prose (what do you mean you’ve never heard of it?), and colours don’t stray too far off-hue when viewed off-axis. The beamtastic, blink-inducing 10.1in screen can’t be faulted on brightness either. This is a great choice for loading up your tab with hi-res DSLR shots as it picks up slightly more detail than the iPad.

For everything else, make sure to get to know the ‘screen modes’ section of the settings menu. Movie mode is best for movies (who would’ve thought?) with a similarly natural colour palette to iDevices – but in this mode webpages look like fancy, cream-coloured letters next to the stock, pure white printing paper of the iPad. Switch back to Standard mode for browsing and contrast improves with bold black text popping as it should.

The iPad just about has the edge when playing back 1080p footage, both in terms of smoothness of playback and sharpness of picture. The fact that you don’t need to change screen mode to get the most of it is a big bonus, too, but overall the Note 10.1 still has a cracker of a screen – one of the best we’ve ever seen on a 10in tablet.

THE S PEN

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The screen is undoubtedly the 2014 Note 10.1’s biggest upgrade over last year’s model, but the S Pen should not be forgotten. A pull-out pen located in the top right-hand corner of the tab, it’s more responsive than the first iteration and the Note 10.1 has borrowed plenty of clever new tricks from the Note 3.

Air Command menus (which are accessed by dragging the stylus in a circle) can be a bit confusing at first, but stick with the S Pen and the rewards are vast.

Circling web bits and bobs with the S Pen to send to the Scrapbook is more satisfying than using apps such as Pocket. And saving hand-scrawled numbers to contacts saves time via Action Memo’s nifty menu of places to send your scribbles. It’s also mighty impressive that handwritten notes are included in the Note 10.1’s universal search.

The S Note app has a clean new interface, too, and although 10in is a little on the large side for a meeting companion, resting the Note 10.1 on a knee and jotting away with the stylus works well. It beats typing on a 10in tablet virtual keyboard, that’s for sure.

SAMSUNG EXTRAS

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There are plenty of Samsung features and freebies on the Note 10.1 and the new UI takes glancing at your tablet for a quick hit of social or news updates to whole new levels.

Its Magazine UX – laid over Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and expanded on the new NotePro at CES – is seriously lovely, with a big, bold version of Flipboard to swipe through. It’s all very lively – there are scrollable widgets on the homescreen, including a specially modified version of Twitter and the digital edition of Bloomberg’s Businessweek+, free for a year.

The other star attraction here is still Multi Window for splitscreen apps. Your iPad can’t do that. It works much better this time around – the old Note 10.1 was simply too hiccupy to forgive. It’s still restricted to mostly Samsung and Google apps but the likes of email, maps and the browser are what you’re most likely to want to run side-by-side anyway.

Sadly, it still feels somewhat cluttered thanks to too much duplication – Samsung Hub and Samsung Apps widgets on top of the Play Store, Play Music and other Google options. There are doubled-up apps for email and photos, too. We’d recommend that tablet newbies stick to Google’s services where possible. Still, without downloading a single app you’ve got the most glanceable, all-singing, all-dancing homescreen around.

BIG RESOLUTION, BIG BATTERY

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Our usual battery rundown test takes a 720p video on a loop, but we thought we’d test the Note 10.1 2014 with a 1080p clip since it has that 2560×1600 resolution and, er, we were curious.

The Samsung lasted a decent 4hrs45mins on half-brightness and with Wi-Fi on. That’s two whole Full HD movies with juice to spare, and we also got 9 to 10 hours of regular browsing out of the Note 10.1. Bravo, chaps.

Original Story : http://www.stuff.tv/my/android/samsung-galaxy-note-101-2014/review