A plastic metallic band surrounds the edges of the Note 10.1, with stereo speakers near the top of each side (when holding the device in lanscape orientation), a headphone jack on the left, the stylus housed on the right side, with the power button, volume rocker, and IR blaster located at the top of the device. The speakers were plenty loud for personal use, and huddling around the tablet with a couple of your friends to watch videos shouldn't be a problem.
The Note 10.1 is actually quite compact, with a smaller footprint than comparable tablets like the Sony Xperia Tablet Z and Samsung's own Nexus 10. It still has some heft to it, though, weighing more than the aforementioned Tablet Z, but less than than Apple's 4th generation iPad. It's small enough to easily throw into a bag, but heavy enough to not feel fragile.
The 10.1-inch screen bears a high resolution of 2560 x 1600 with a pixel density of 302 ppi, and the liquid-crystal display makes sure content is visible in any lighting condition. In general, the screen always looked great, with video and comic books coming through clearly, as well as text and images from websites.
In benchmark tests, the Note 10.1 was at the top of list with AnTuTu Benchmark, slightly edging out the powerful Note 3 smartphone; trailed just behind Apple's iPhone 5S and Microsoft's new Surface 2 in 3DMark tests; and was the top ranked Android tablet when tracked through Geekbench 3. Gaming on the tablet was trouble free. The Note powered through swarms of enemies in Kingdom Rush Frontiers and speedy rivals in Real Racing 3 without any noticeable isses.
Battery life was average, with power staying relatively consistent when in standby mode. Light web and app consumption will get you through days of use, but more intense activities like hours of playing games and Netflix marathons will require you to get to a charger at the end of each day. Unfortunately, the tablet doesn't have the same USB 3.0 connectivity that the Note 3 smartphone includes, so extended charging sessions are commonly required to bring the 8,220 mAh battery back to 100 percent.
The Note 10.1's 8-megapixel rear facing camera is good for a tablet, producing quality photos, although not nearly at the same level of color reproduction and detail that high-end smartphones are currently capturing. It's fine for quick pictures that are uploaded to the web, but if you have a smartphone that was released within the last couple of years, you probably have a better shooter in your pocket.
Oddly, the stylus is only slighty larger than the one included with the Note 3. It would have been nice if Samsung had packed in a larger S Pen with the tablet, since the one included is thinner than just about any pen or pencil one would use around the house or office.
Unlike many other larger mobile devices, Samsung's Note products make proper use of the bigger displays by offering split-screen and windowed apps. Between Multi-Window view and the stylus-enabled S Window feature, I was able to have 9 apps open simultaneously. It's not likely that you'd ever need to do this yourself, but it shows how versitile the setup can be.
But Samsung's latest is still a generally impressive machine, equipped with a beautiful display and a relatively compact build. If you're looking for a quality Android tablet with proper, native stylus support—and don't mind paying a little extra for it—you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Galaxy Note 10.1.
- +Beautiful display.
- +Great stylus support.
- +Quality speakers.
- –TouchWiz can bog down performance.