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Depending on who you asked, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 was either a brilliant innovation or a decidedly ho-hum affair. Unfortunately for Samsung, most of the tablet-buying public came down on the latter side.
The manufacturer hopes to change that with the latest version of its flagship ten-incher. Though the naming convention may be rather uninspired, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) does have some intriguing things to offer.
Whether it’ll be enough to set the tablet apart from a crowded market, however, is another matter.
At 9.57-by-6.75-by-0.31 inches and a featherlight 1.19 pounds, the 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1 is exceptionally thin and light compared to tablets like the HP SlateBook x2 and Google Nexus 10.
In a very welcome move, Samsung has ditched the high-gloss plastic finish for the 2014 model and opted instead for a soft-touch backing that feels a bit like well-worn leather. It’s a wise choice, and it goes a long way toward creating a more premium feel. The construction quality is also fairly good, though the device does have a bit of flex.
The Galaxy Note makes use of all four of its edges. The volume rocker joins the power button on the top edge. The right edge sports a covered microSD socket that supports up to 64 gigabytes of expanded storage, along with one of two speakers on the bottom right.
The other speaker is on the bottom of the left edge, while the bottom edge features a micro-USB port. Though no one should expect high-quality audio, the Note’s speakers produce plenty of volume and perform quite well overall in a tablet comparison.
Resolving the Details
The most visible upgrade for the 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1 comes in the form of a brilliant new 2,560-by-1,600 pixel TFT LCD display. Although it sports the same resolution as the Nexus 10, the Galaxy’s panel offers deeper, more accurate color and contrast that makes it one of the best displays on the market.
Compared to tablets with 1,920-by-1,080 displays, such as the HP SlateBook x2, the difference is subtle but certainly noticeable. Factor in excellent viewing angles and it’s hard to find any faults with the Galaxy’s top-notch panel.
Under the Hood
On paper, the 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1 offers performance hardware that’s every bit as impressive as the display. An octa-core Exynos 5420 processor is paired with three gigabytes of RAM and an ARM Mali-T626 graphics chip to produce a very powerful piece of hardware.
In hands-on testing, however, performance was somewhat inconsistent. While there’s clearly a lot of power behind the new Galaxy, the tablet also suffered from the kind of lagging and general sluggishness that shouldn’t be expected from the hardware inside.
Indeed, the Note doesn’t necessarily outperform the Nexus 10 or HP SlateBook x2 in a tablet comparison.
A great deal has changed between the original Note 10.1 and the 2014 edition, but nothing more than the display. The original display was terrible, to put it politely, while the 2014 Galaxy Note offers a panel that can compete with the best on the market at any size.
The inclusion of a micro-USB charger is also a welcome change from the original’s proprietary charger, and the faux leather backing feels great compared to the typical glossy plastic. Samsung’s exclusive S Pen has also benefited from better integration with the new Galaxy Note 10.1, rather than feeling like a somewhat unnecessary accessory with the original.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) is a good tablet. Its display is among the best on the market, improving on even the Nexus 10‘s fabulous panel. The S Pen has become a very useful, well-integrated tool, which is something that the competition simply can’t offer.
The performance hardware also looks significantly better compared to tablets like the Nexus 10 and HP SlateBook x2, at least on paper. It’s decidedly underwhelming in real-world testing, however, so your mileage may vary. Ultimately, the Samsung’s appeal will come down to the brilliant display and the S Pen.
If you can live without either of those features, there are better options for more affordable prices.