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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review: First look

Is Samsung's newly launched tablet enough to help it stand head and shoulders above the rest of the pack?

IT Pro's sister title PC Pro managed to get some hands on time with a pre-production sample of Samsung's stylus-friendly tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1, back in February. Now, the finished article has arrived and there have been quite a few design tweaks along the way.

The biggest change is the physical design. Where the version we originally saw looked similar to the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has evolved into something rather different. Our review unit came in a gleaming gloss white, with a silver trim running around the edge, and while there's no sign of any metal, the plastic body doesn't feel cheap in the slightest. This is a strong, sturdy feeling tablet.

And where the pre-production model had nowhere to stash its stylus, Samsung's managed to squeeze it into the Note 10.1's body. A flash of silver on the tablet's bottom edge reveals its location, and it slots home with a delicate click as it locks into place. The stylus has shrunk from the previous pen-sized one, but feels none the worse for it, with its squared-off edges and rounded corners sitting nicely in the hand.

Android 4 is the OS of choice, but Samsung's done a serious amount of tweaking to Google's OS principally to make it a little more stylus-friendly but partly just because they can. The custom lock screen is just for show it ripples with a brush of the finger (or stylus) but brush past that and you're faced with Samsung's Video, Game and Music Hubs. We're also pleased to find Adobe's Photoshop Touch installed as standard.

Minor tweaks, such as the ever-present screenshot icon and quick launch row of applications, pay testament to the Galaxy Note 10.1's greater focus on productivity.

Far more interesting, however, is the Note 10.1's Multiscreen mode. This finally makes it possible to multi-task on Android; splitting the screen down the middle, and allowing you to run certain apps side-by-side. The only apps that work in Multiscreen mode are Polaris Office, Samsung's S Note software, Video player, Gallery, Email and the browser, but it's a nice idea nonetheless.

Such multi-tasking feats require some pretty serious hardware behind the scenes, but Samsung's got that covered. An ARM v7-based quad-core chip runs at 1.4GHz, and the Galaxy Note 10.1's multi-tasking prowess sees 2GB of memory included as standard, as well as 16GB of storage. There's little lacking elsewhere, either: out front there's a 1.9-megapixel camera for video calls, and to the rear there's a 5-megapixel camera. Even better, 3G support has made the grade.

The screen is typically excellent, too. It can't match the latest Full HD tablets for sheer pixel count, but the super-wide viewing angles and eye-popping colours easily make amends, and it's pretty darn bright.

With the 3G-equipped Galaxy Note 10.1 available for pre-order for around 435 inc VAT, this little tablet has promise. We'll find out just how much promise when it comes to the full review.

We'll bring you our full review, with more details on the business benefits, as soon as we can.

Verdict

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