“The jack of all trades and the master of some”
The tablet market is saturated with models available in all sorts of specifications and prices. In the battle for supremacy, Samsung has split its tablet line into two: the entry-level Tab series and the more high-end Note series.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 can be considered the company’s current flagship model and it seeks to compete better with the likes of Apple’s iPad and Google’s Nexus line.
The 10.1 inch tablet is by no means the best when it comes to the looks department. But, spec wise, it is as-good-as, if not better than, many of its competitors. Samsung has dumped the previous model’s chunky plastic design for a slightly better faux-metal rim and faux-leather back combo. However, it still looks a bit cheap when compared to the Apple iPad Air 2 and Dell Venue 8 7000.
It’s an extremely slim device (at 7.9mm) and weighs 535g. The top-left edge has the power and volume keys and next to those is an IR LED which lets you use the tab as a universal remote. The microUSB port at the bottom is flanked by speakers which provide stereo sound. There’s also a microSD slot and a discrete port for the S Pen stylus.
The Note 10.1 is available in 32GB and 64GB options and priced between $550 and $600, depending on the storage space. This is on the higher end when it comes to Android tablets, but the specs justify the cost. The company hasn’t announced the pricing for LTE models yet.
This Android device ships with the 4.3 Jelly Bean release. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker because KitKat 4.4 is only an incremental update and improves performance in devices which are far less capable than the Note 10.1 2014. Moreover, it comes with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI so you won’t be getting the stock Android experience anyway. TouchWiz does add a few nifty features like MyMagazine and Multi-Window as well.
The tablet comes with an 8-core Exynos 5420 SoC. The octa-core setup is basically a combination of two quad-core processors, the more powerful of which is a 1.9GHz Cortex A-15 while the other is a 1.3GHz Cortex A7. The idea is to improve performance and battery life by using the less powerful processor for menial tasks and the bigger one when more power is required. It is supported by an ARM Mali T626 six-core GPU and 3GB of RAM.
While the device performed well in most benchmarks, the real-world experience was a bit iffy. The performance was sluggish with games like Riptide GP 2 and Asphalt 8. Surprisingly, there were plenty of instances of framing and chopping as the system struggled to keep up with the graphical requirements. It struggled with other tasks as well like playing two YouTube videos simultaneously in the Multi-Window.
I’m not saying that the Exynos chipset is bad. But, considering the premium components and the price point, it failed to achieve expected levels of performance. The LTE model ships with a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor which may fare better.
- S Pen functionality
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Wi-Fi encryption WEP, WPA, WPA 2
- Expandable memory up to 64GB
The screen is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The 2560×1600 WQXGA TFT LCD display is one of the best units you will find in a 10.1 inch tablet. Its pixel density of 299ppi is better than the iPad. It is pretty much the same resolution and size as the Nexus 10, but offers richer colors and better viewing angles. However, it is not as well-balanced as Apple’s Retina display.
The 8MP sensor on the Note 10.1 performs just like any other similar tablet camera – which is to say that it won’t be replacing your point-and-shoot any time soon. It comes with features you’d expect such as a burst mode, ISO, exposure adjustments, white-balance, metering, etc. and a LED flash. There are several preset modes too like HDR, Drama, Night, etc. Photographs taken indoors in well-lit rooms are good while shots in direct sunlight look a bit washed out.
Battery life is pretty much par and would last around 10 hours of moderate to heavy use. It has an 8,220mAh power unit (which is more than the 7,000mAh in the previous model). But, since the screen sharpness has increased, the improvement in battery capacity doesn’t affect overall life.
- S Pen is a great tool
- Excellent Audio
- Thinner and lighter than earlier
- Decent camera
- Slightly sluggish performance
- Doesn’t look high-end
- Battery life could be better
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is an excellent option for people who want their device to do a bit of everything. It is powerful and light, and the S Pen is great for productivity. But, if you want a tablet for general use, there are other options you could consider.