The standout feature on Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 is definitely the S-Pen. We covered it with our Galaxy Note smartphone review, but Samsung have given the S-Pen some new superpowers in the Note 10.1.
Samsung have opted to offer three different S-Pen's this time around, the stock one, one with an eraser tip, and the other sports a larger holster for a more natural hold or grip on the stylus itself.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 only ships with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, so we find ourselves with yet another tablet that doesn't come with Jelly Bean out of the box. Samsung are a huge partner of Google's and I find it utterly annoying to not have Jelly Bean on this new tablet. But Samsung and others have their reasons - mainly because they'd like to see their own UI splashed on top of Google's mobile OS.
Samsung provide the Note 10.1 with TouchWiz UX and comes with a plethora of pre-loaded applications. Some of these work amazingly well with the S-Pen such as S Note, which is really great for quickly tapping or drawing a note or some words onto the screen.
As soon as the S-Pen is removed from the Note 10.1, a handy little mini-menu pops up with shortcuts to five S-Pen-optimized applications, as well as a settings option. This mini-menu is customizable, which is great to see. A user could even set an app to automatically open up when the S-Pen is removed from its holder - a nice trick.
Samsung have given the new S-Pen 1024 degrees of pressure, most of which goes to waste on the usual apps, but the included PS Touch or S Note gets loaded up and you really feel that pressure sensitivity difference.
Samsung have thrown in some PC-like multi-tasking features, which I actually didn't mind. Not that I loved them, I just liked having the option of having them there. One of them is multi-screen mode, which will let you have two apps open side-by-side. This can be really helpful for someone who wants to keep Facebook open, but wants to have their webpages or e-mail next to the Facebook screen, too. It almost feels like you're using two 5-inch tablets side-by-side, which is a nice little addition from Samsung.
TouchWiz also paves the way for hovering applications, where you can run Calculator on top of a webpage if you needed to quickly work out some digits. This is a great feature, but it's also something that slows down the Note 10.1, and with its powerful innards, it feels like one step forward, two steps backwards.
Samsung include a few keyboards on the Note 10.1, the normal long flat keyboard as well as a split keyboard. This is a personal decision on what you'd use, but the option just being there is nice.
On the bottom taskbar of the Note 10.1, there's a little down arrow and if tapped, will provide some of the applications Samsung provide with TouchWiz, as shown below.
Portrait use on the Galaxy Note 10.1 I found to be really impressive. A 10.1-inch screen feels great in your hands in portrait mode, which I used more than landscape for viewing webpages. I do quite a lot of reading (surfing the web, etc) and found it a joy to hold in portrait. The plastic construction still feels cumbersome, but in portrait it is actually comfortable.
Here's some shots of TweakTown in both landscape and portrait.
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:31 pm CDT
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