The Verge reviews the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

I’ll spare you all the nasty details, but if you want to read it, it’s here. Who came up with that name btw?

Nilay Patel’s review is rock-solid, no BS.

Choice cuts:

It’s handsome enough, but it unfortunately it’s all plastic all the way around — and you’ll feel it the instant you pick it up. Not only does the plastic back flex in your hand, but the shiny finish quickly picks up fingerprints and other smudges, belying its faux brushed-metal texture. It all just feels a bit cheap

The front of the Note is of course dominated by its 10.1-inch display, which is… okay. It has solid viewing angles and brighter colors than the Nexus 7 display, but at 1280 x 800, it’s nowhere close to matching the resolution or clarity of the new iPad’s Retina Display

The Note has cameras, which I did not use. You will probably never use them either, because a quick glance at the recorded output of the cameras suggests that any other camera in range of your person is probably better.

…you’ll find Samsung’s weirdly inconvenient proprietary charging connector, which looks almost exactly like Apple’s ubiquitous 30-pin iPhone / iPad connector but is something else entirely. A micro USB port would have been much more useful — Apple gets away with a proprietary connector because it enables a robust accessory ecosystem, but there’s no such benefit with the Note. Instead, there’s just the dawning realization you will one day lose this weird cable and find yourself alone in a room with a dead piece of plastic, tapping away with a pen that leaves no ink and no trace of your earthly existence.

if anything, the Note 10.1’s stylus integration is less powerful than its smaller predecessor, since it doesn’t have handwriting recognition at the system level.

It all works until you try to do something even slightly weird: the language recognition fails out if you write on an angle, the math recognition doesn’t seem to be editable once you insert a recognized formula, and the shape recognition simply refuses to understand a figure 8.

Then I booted up the Note and encountered Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX. Things immediately went downhill.

…Samsung has decided that almost every single action in Nature UX should be accompanied by a bloop-bloop plopping sound. It is the default setting on both the Note and the Galaxy S III, and it is almost impossible to understand how this decision was made.

Samsung also insists on replacing perfectly wonderful Google apps with ersatz versions: instead of Gmail, Samsung puts its home-grown mail client on the homescreen by default. Instead of Chrome, there’s a reworked version of the older Android browser, now labeled “Internet”…S Planner is a Pyrrhic victory in the Samsung-copied-Apple debate; there is simply no moral high ground here to claim.

Unfortunately, you can’t run just any app in multiscreen mode, which greatly lowers the utility of this feature. I was hoping multiscreen would effectively create a pair of seven-inch displays and turn Android’s lack of proper tablet apps into a strength; phone apps look fine on the Nexus 7’s similarly-sized screen, after all. Sadly that’s just not the case, and multiscreen will remain largely unused if you are a rational person who wants to use Chrome and Gmail instead of Samsung’s less-powerful alternatives.

All of these additions makes the Note extremely slow, even though it has a ridiculously fast 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos processor and 2GB of RAM. On paper, that’s basically more powerful than any other mainstream mobile device, but the Note is quite laggy in day-to-day use. Just flipping between homescreens can result in some stuttering when you hit a widget-heavy layout, and I even noticed occasional slowdowns when simply swiping the lock screen to open the device. The Note is simply not as smooth or responsive as the Nexus 7, and it’s so far behind the iPad that the comparison doesn’t really seem fair.

The Note’s performance suffers worst of all in its special multiscreen mode. Android isn’t really designed to run two apps at once, and switching between the open “windows” results in lengthy delays while the system catches up to your inputs. In practice it makes multiscreen essentially useless, since you can’t really use two apps at once

when I first pulled it out of the box, I clocked a blistering Quadrant score in the 5000 range. After using the Note for a day or two, that score fell to 3570. A restart netted another score in the 3500s, which rose to the low 4000s on retests before tapering off. That’s only slightly faster as the smartphone Note, which has two fewer cores — and it’s significantly slower than the quad-core HTC One X. It’s pretty clear none of this software is well optimized to take advantage of the raw horsepower available.

But a pretty good pen system built on top of a disappointing Android tablet still makes for a disappointing Android tablet.

You should really read the whole thing.

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One comment on “The Verge reviews the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

  1. Riley says:

    It’s a shame that the Note 10.1 didn’t turn out to be a success like the phone it’s named after. I can’t say the $499 is worth it for a faster processor and a fancy pen. At least with an iPad, I would have the option to get LTE. I’ve tried LTE on my Dish coworker’s Galaxy Note phone using the Dish Remote Access app, and streaming is quite smooth. I like watching live and recorded shows on my current iPad through the Sling Adapter that I have connected to my Hopper, and I would like to have the option to watch TV or open a document when and where I want. I’ll be sure to test the Note 10.1 out to see how it works compared to the iPad.

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