A little over a year ago, before I was hired at AP, I wrote about the things I wanted my new Honeycomb tablet to be able to do in the next version of Android. Multitasking on tablets was (and still is) non-existent, and I wanted my tablet to be less of a big phone, and more of a small computer. I wanted split screen, and floating apps, and really, I wanted to just make use of this nice, big screen I had. One task at a time isn't good enough. The big difference between a tablet and a phone should be the ability to multitask.
As it turns out, Samsung gets it. The Galaxy Note 10.1 is actually trying to make tablets useful, productive tools. They've added split screen and floating apps. I've actually got my email and a web browser open side by side right now, and it's like a dream come true.
If that isn't enough for you, this thing also has pen input. A pressure-sensitive pen stows away in the bottom-left corner of the tablet. You can take notes, and select an area of the screen to capture and draw on it.
On paper, it all sounds very good. Reality, however, is an entirely different story. It's not enough to just have a good idea, you have to actually make it real, you need to build it.
I'm sad to report that Samsung failed at execution on all fronts. Samsung has been pushing the skinning envelope further and further, and, with this revision of TouchWiz, they've slammed into a brick wall. Couple this failure with astonishingly bad hardware and a $500 price tag, and you've got yourself a real disappointment. Samsung promised us the moon, and then cut corners everywhere possible, and it's hard to walk away not feeling a little insulted.
- 1.4GHz Quad-Core Exynos 4412 Processor
- Mali-400MP GPU
- 2 GB RAM
- 16/32/64GB ROM (Partitioned as Unified Storage!) with microSDHC slot
- 10.1 inch, 1280x800 LCD
- 7000mAh Non-Removable Battery
- 5MP Rear Camera, 1.9MP Front Camera
- WiFi A/B/G/N (2.4 & 5 GHz)
- Bluetooth 4.0+
- Dimensions: 262 x 180 x 8.9 mm
- Weight: 600g (3G), 597g (WiFi)
- Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with TouchWiz
- Pressure Sensitive Pen and Wacom Digitizer
- Other Extras: An IR Blaster (a TV Remote), USB 2.0 Host, MHL,
- Loud, front-facing stereo speakers. These should be standard equipment on all phones and tablets.
- A big, long lasting battery.
- The build quality. Terrible even by Samsung's low standards. The back is actually squishy, and you can feel it deform while holding it. It's noisy too, the plastic creaks, groans, and grinds when you pick it up. Regular, strong plastic would still be unacceptable when everyone else uses aluminum, but this... this is insulting for a $500 tablet.
- An ugly two-tone "please don't ever confuse this with an iPad" design. It's not designed to look good, it's only designed to not look like an iPad.
- A 1280x800 resolution display on a flagship device is not ok. Asus does 1920x1200, and Samsung makes a 9.7 inch, 2048x1536 display for Apple. They seriously cheaped out here.
- The pen feels cheap too. It's a hollow plastic tube. It's got a button that doesn't do anything useful, and you can't customize it.
- No NFC on a device that is, by definition, a secondary device. Have a Galaxy S III and a Note 10.1? Well, guess what? You can't tap to share because Samsung cheaped out. 2 months ago, NFC was all the rage at Samsung HQ. Now, all of a sudden, it's not important enough to include in your flagship tablet. What happened?
- The new multitasking features, floating apps and split screen, just aren't any good. Compatibility is limited to a handful of not-very-useful TouchWiz apps, and split screen has terrible lag when switching between the two open apps.
More design from Samsung's Legal Department, just like the GSIII. Everything about this is made to scream "I am not an iPad." Apple claims "substantial black borders on all sides being roughly equal in width," so this thing has uneven, "Pearl Grey" borders. Apple suggested Samsung could make a non-infringing device with a "front surface that isn't entirely flat" and "thick frames rather than a thin rim around the front surface," so Samsung fitted the Note 10.1 with hideous, thick, plastic framing.
Samsung didn't design this to look good, they designed it only to not look like something else, and it shows.
Anyway, lets take a closer look:
Nothing to report along the sides. On the bottom there's a centered, Apple-style charger and on the right you'll see the seam for the S Pen.
Here's all the stuff we've been looking for. Left to right, we've got the headphone jack, IR blaster, MicroSD slot, volume rocker, and power button. Yes, an IR blaster. This thing is also a TV remote.
The Micro SD slot is "protected" with a little flap. I don't really like port covers, but this little guy is firmly attached to the tablet. I tried to break it off, and it stood up to my abuse. You can't break this.
I really love the speakers. Loud, stereo, front-facing speakers. It's such a common sense thing, I really don't understand what's taken so long. Tablets are supposed to be media consumption devices, which means, after the screen, the speakers are the most important component. This is the first tablet I've played with where headphones or "cupping" wasn't mandatory.
Speakers that face your ears need to be a standard feature on all phone and tablets. I feel stupid typing that, yet this is the first device I've seen with them. It just goes to show how low the bar is for all Android OEMs.
There's not much going on in the back. You've got a 5MP camera and flash, a Samsung logo, and the usual fine print. Other than that, there's just a massive ocean of plastic. And, oh boy, about that plastic:
Materials & Build Quality
This is a Samsung device, so you just know things in this department are going to be bad, but I never expected they would be this bad. Sure, there's the usual, tame stuff. You get, for instance, the same nasty looking corner construction I complained about in my Galaxy S III review. But this time, Samsung went all out and invented a new, even more horrible form of plastic.
The Note 10.1 is wrapped in the trashiest, most awful, cheapest-feeling plastic I've ever experienced. Sure, the finish is Samsung's usual glossy-plastic junk, but this plastic isn't even rigid. It's squishy.
Yeah, you heard me, squishy plastic. You can easily flex it with a light touch, and you can feel the whole back deform in your hands when using it. It's sort of like holding a marshmallow. Don't believe me? Watch this:
That's a close-up of the back of the Note 10.1. I'm just lightly pressing on the back, right on top of the Samsung logo, and the back flexes up and down like a trampoline. It doesn't even feel like part of the device. The back flexes so much it feels closer to a free-floating skin than a rigid structural component, like how a 3rd party case has a little bit of give to it. The scary thing is that it only stops flexing when it touches the internal components. I somehow doubt the battery and motherboard were meant to be load-bearing.
To give you an idea of just how ill-fitting the back is, let's take a closer look at that picture I showed you earlier. See the wavy, white reflection? That's the top of my computer monitor. A flat surface would give an undistorted reflection, meaning the top of the monitor would be a straight line. The Note 10.1 is so wavy and uneven that this reflection is more like a funhouse mirror.
Things don't really fit together well, either. Here's the corner of the grey plastic that houses the camera. It's flush in some areas, and it sticks out in others, probably due to the looseness of the squishy plastic.
The back is also made of the least durable material known to man. This is what it looks like after 2 days of very light use. The uneven, skin-like back creates pressure points, so the flimsy plastic wears down even faster in some spots. I've been as gentle as humanly possible with the Note 10.1, because I still needed to take pictures of it, but apparently just sitting on a desk is enough to scratch it. Thank god for Photoshop.
For reference, here's the aluminum back of my Motorola Xoom, which I've been abusing for a year and a half.
Aluminum is better! Samsung's engineers may want to acquaint themselves with this amazing substance.
The Note 10.1 doesn't just feel like crap, and age like crap, it sounds like crap too. The plastic creaks and crackles when you apply any kind of stress to it - for instance, when picking it up with one hand. Listen to the noise it makes from a gentle squeeze:
Expect to hear one of those creaks every time you pick it up.
Asus, Apple, and Motorola are building tablets out of aluminum, and Samsung is doing... this. This is the build quality I would expect in a $100 Chinese-knockoff "Android Tablet" from the bottom shelf of a Kmart, not a $500 tablet from the world's largest Android OEM. Samsung should be ashamed.
The S Pen feels pretty cheap too. It's very light - it's basically a hollow plastic tube. Have you ever played with those hollow, plastic dummy phones in a store? This feels exactly like that. Except it's a real product that you are expected to pay for. The lightness is really off-putting, and Samsung knows it - they will sell you a heavier pen, but it doesn't stow away in the tablet.
The pen has a button, but it doesn't really do anything. It'll turn your pen into an eyedropper in Photoshop, and you can do one or two gestures with it in the OS, like take a screenshot or trigger the back or menu buttons, and that's it. It needs to be customizable. Having it switch to the eraser for drawing would be awesome.
And here's the pen slot. It holds the pen securely, and even has a sensor so it knows when you take the pen out. It'll either turn the screen on, or bring up a shortcut menu.
The problem with this shortcut menu is that it's completely un-customizable. I hope you like Crayon physics, because that's permanent.
As far as the pen actually working? It's a mixed bag. Pressure sensitivity works. Samsung will tell you it has 1000 levels of sensitivity, but it seems more like 5.
Palm rejection is possible, but it's up to the individual apps to include it. So far, only the large version of S Note works. There's no palm rejection in Photoshop or the floating version of S Note.
The pen is tracked well, and the Note can even tell when you are hovering the pen over the screen, although they don't really use that for anything. Tracking is just as laggy as a normal touchscreen, which is much more noticeable when you're using a pen.
Well, it's got one. That's about the most positive thing I can say about the screen. It's perfectly serviceable - not anything special, not bad either.
The problem is, it is no where near competitive for a "flagship" tablet. It's a 1280x800 LCD. Great. Except that you can get a 1920x1200 display from Asus in the TF700 or a 2048x1536 display from Apple. A tablet is just a screen, so skimping on it is an instant deal breaker.
So what happened here, Samsung? I thought you guys were supposed to have great display technology. You guys manufacture the iPad display, so don't tell me you can't do it. Are you just skimping out on components to boost your profit margin?
Hardware wise, the Note 10.1 is really a big international Galaxy S III. You get a 1.4 GHz Exynos quad core, 2GB of RAM, and a Mali-400MP GPU. I usually write something like "performance isn't a concern anymore, everything runs very smoothly," but that isn't the case here. You can run normal applications just fine, Touchwiz, however, is a totally different story.
A processors worst nightmare.
If you've read some of the early reviews floating around out there, you've probably heard mixed things about the performance. Out of the box, this thing runs like crap. I mean it. I'm talking slower than a Xoom. The home screens, in particular, laboriously move along at around 15 FPS. The reason is the default widget setup. These 4 squares - Clock, Media Hub, Game Hub, and Music Hub - kill performance. So if you see anyone calling this thing slow, that's why. Remove them and everything speeds up to the normal, expected smoothness. It's not as buttery smooth as Jelly Bean, but it isn't slow, either.
The other reason performance is a concern now is because Touchwiz is pushing the multitasking envelope further than anyone has before. You can float Touchwiz apps around in little windows, or run them in split screen.
Here I'm watching a video in the lower right, monitoring my ram, taking notes, and I've got the browser and a spreadsheet open in the background. Things aren't super smooth, but everything is certainly useable. Switching between the left and right apps in split screen mode, because of the way it is coded, is really slow, but I'll explain that in the software section. This is a ridiculous number of things to have open at once, and, other than split screen, it handles it all rather admirably. It can even run the new, super-detailed Google Earth areas pretty smoothly, and those will crush a slower device like a Galaxy Nexus.
The processor is seriously fast, which makes the initial widget slowness all the more... impressive? Samsung is just really bad at making widgets, I guess.
I was going to do a thorough camera test, but then it occurred to me that people might see me, and I decided against it. I did manage to get one snap off before the shame and embarrassment kicked in.
It's your standard, crappy, 5MP sensor they've been putting in everything for the last 2 years. Which is fine, because you should never take a picture with this thing.
...How is there no NFC? You are obviously going to have this tablet and an Android phone, and all of the new devices have NFC, so why not include it? It would be so awesome to be able to tap to share a web page, app, or YouTube video between your devices.
Suppose you're a crazy person, and you're all-in on the Samsung ecosystem. You've got your Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and a Samsung Galaxy S III. You've got no way to send stuff from one to the other. 2 months ago, NFC (S Beam, in Samsung parlance) was all the rage at Samsung HQ. Now, all of a sudden, it's not important enough to include in your flagship tablet. S-Beam on the GSIII had lots of proprietary add-ons that needed a large device ecosystem to be useful, and 2 months later Samsung abandons it. This should definitely make people wary next time they start showing off something that only works on their phones.
Alright! I get to do battle with TouchWiz again. That's right, just "TouchWiz." I am fairly certain the "Nature UX" branding from the Galaxy S III is gone - the official specs page just says "Samsung TouchWiz." At this point in the review though, I am so jaded with this thing, I probably wouldn't even humor Samsung by repeating whatever wacky branding they've come up with.
Anyway, meet this version of TouchWiz. The branding may be different, but, design-wise, it's basically a bigger version of the Galaxy S III software. Which is a roundabout way of saying "it's very ugly."
Immediately, you'll notice some strange new buttons in the system bar. The 4th button next to back, home, and recent apps is screenshot. I'm not kidding. Apparently no one at Samsung understands that the previous 3 buttons are for navigation and a 4th button that isn't navigation should probably not be there. I've hit it about a million times expecting it to be recent apps. The usual volume down + power also works, and there's an S Pen button shortcut. I guess Samsung really likes taking screenshots. Thankfully, you can turn off the screenshot button in settings. You can even change it to the app drawer, which is interesting.
The centered up arrow brings up the list of floating mini-apps, which I will get to in a later section. I don't get how they got the placement of this button right, but messed up the screenshot button location so badly. You need to separate navigation from the other stuff.
Open a legacy app in portrait mode and wow do things get scary. Just look at all those buttons. That's back, home, recent apps, screenshot, menu, and mini apps. This is why having competent UI designers is important, some spacing here would make all the difference.
They've managed to make the notification panel even uglier than the GSIII's version. This blue/green color scheme is never a good idea, but now the clock has its own background, a diagonal dark blue/light blue stripe. At least it's useful - you get Samsung's trademark power options.
I'm not really sold on 10-inch tablets as a productive form of computing. Sure, they're great for watching movies and reading, but try to make something, or write something, and things start to fall apart. The biggest problem is that multitasking is non-existent. You get a much larger screen than a phone, but you can't actually do more with it. One of the ways Samsung has tried to fix this is with floating, mini-apps.
Like I said, tapping the center system bar arrow brings up the list of mini-apps, which appear as a row of thumbnails. This is part of the system bar, so you can do this from any screen you want. the mini apps float on top of all other UI elements and work just as you'd expect them to. Dragging on the title bar will move them around, and tapping the X will close them. The diagonal arrow on the left-hand side will switch to the full version of an app and, usually, transfer your work with it. It's surprisingly well thought out.
This floating functionality is no gimmick. The windows actually work well, and there's no limit to how many you can have open at once. The execution here is surprisingly solid. Some help in the window management department would be nice. The windows aren't resizable, and they don't snap to the screen edge or to each other, they're just totally free floating. Being able to minimize would have been nice too.
Of course, you can't just float anything. You can only float a select few TouchWiz apps. Let's take a look at what Samsung has whipped up. Let me know if you notice a general theme here.
You can add an alarm, and turn an alarm off, and that's it. You can't delete an alarm (long press doesn't work) and there's no timer or countdown function. You get these 3 screens, and that's it. This isn't useful.
The app isn't even useful when an alarm goes off. You get this full-screen mess, while the mini-app obliviously floats over top of it.
Hey! Now we're talking. This a very useful, four function calculator. There's a down arrow that will show you your calculation history since the app has been opened, and you can scroll through it. The top-left arrow will bounce you to the full calculator app, and bring all your work along, so you can use more advanced functions.
That's "Email," not "Gmail." This is only for the stock email app. You know, the one for exchange accounts, and Hotmail.
I've only got one screenshot here, because this is all it does. You can't actually view a message, or reply, or do anything useful. You can only look at your inbox and star things. Tapping on an email will open it in the full-screen app, and that's about it.
This one is really hard to drag, because tapping on the title bar will switch between your accounts (Gmail, Hotmail, etc) and a combined view. The system is never really sure what to do when you interact with the title bar, so most of the time it just does nothing.
Local music, if you've still got any, can be played through this thing. The big blue Samsung square is album art. You've got a volume slider, and the usual back, play, and next buttons. You can swipe over the album art to change songs, too. There's a playlist button that will change the interface to the picture on the right, where you can tap on a song to play it... and that's about it. You can't actually add, delete, or rearrange playlist entries.
The biggest problem with this app is that it is HUGE. Who needs an always-on-top music player to be this big, especially when all it's good for is a next button? Google accomplished all this with a notification. That's much less intrusive. The good news is that the player keeps going in the background, so you can close the floating app and the music will keep playing. Really though, everything this does can be done in the regular music notification, so there's no reason for it to exist.
This note app is actually pretty nice. It's one of the few things that is made for the S Pen, so you can draw on it with pressure sensitivity. The fountain pen button brings up a whole bunch of pen options - you can pick the line style, size, and color, and there are buttons for type, erase, redo, and undo. You can even scroll down and have more room, but, oddly, only after you select the text tool and close the keyboard.
The biggest problem with S Note is the way it deals with data. Closing the app deletes your note, and saving the note clears the notepad. Your note is saved somewhere, but you aren't looking at it anymore. You also can't reopen it from this app. There is also no "would you like to save" prompt, or any notification at all that your note is getting erased when you hit the close button. You are always one errant tap away from total note destruction.
The irresponsible nature with which this treats your data makes it only useful for unimportant, throwaway notes. If you're recording important data, you pretty much have to use something else.
S Planner is Samsung-speak for "Calendar." You can pick a date and scroll through events, or add a new event. That's it. There are no other views. Tapping an event launches the real calendar.
Ugh. A task manager. The "Active applications" tab shows you thumbnails of your running applications, and the little "X" will kill the app in question. If you really hate your tablet, you can hit "End all" and blow up every running app.
The "RAM manager" tab shows how much RAM you're using, and it has an extremely scary button labeled "Clear memory." I tapped it and it crashed my home screen and reset my wallpaper. I'm not kidding. I'm going to stay way from that button.
Yep. A world clock. You can type a city and see the time. Your places are saved and listed below the map.
While it isn't listed in the floating app launcher, you can launch a floating video from the video player. Again though, it's for local media only. It's cool, but I want to do this with YouTube, or Netflix. I don't have any local media.
So, did you catch the theme here? This idea, and even the execution, is great, the problem is all these apps suck. Most of this is just useless. A clock app with no timer or stopwatch, an email app that can't look at emails, a redundant music app that takes up half the screen, a note app that doesn't respect data - this isn't well thought out.
I would love good floating apps, but none of these do anything I would want a floating app to do. How is there no instant messenger app? Google Talk/Voice would be awesome like this. Samsung didn't even make a client for its own crappy chat service, ChatOn. I'm also sure Twitterers would love to see a floating tweet stream, and floating video is nice, but everything is on YouTube. I want to float that video.
Also, guys, usually when you pop up stuff over other stuff, it's good to have some kind of background between them. When you open the floating app list over the top of the home screen, it can get kind of hard to tell what's going on.
And, uh, you also probably don't want the mini-apps to always be on top of everything. Having stuff on top of system popups like the "Complete action using" window just looks broken. This is probably a consequence of whatever dirty hacks Samsung had to use to make this actually work. Speaking of dirty hacks...
Wow. Just look at that. Doesn't that look like tablet computing nirvana? Don't be fooled, though. Sure it looks nice, but it actually works like crap. For starters, it's got the same problems as the mini-apps. It only works with the Browser, Polaris Office, S Note, Video Player, Gallery, Email, and that's it. None of those applications are really any good, and I would much rather use Chrome, Google Docs, YouTube, Google Talk, Twitter, and Gmail.
I should probably get into how this works first.
It's pretty simple, really. Any split screen compatible app will have this "Multiscreen" button in the top-right corner (note: your tablet will not actually grow a second screen when you press this). Press it to view the paltry list of apps you can open. Pick one, and it's it's time to be productive!
Now we've got our two apps open side by side. The "Multiscreen" buttons loses its nonsensical label, and each app gets a close button. There's a handy, new option under the multiscreen menu that lets you swap sides.
You can cut and paste parts of a screen capture into S Note, which is really cool. Take a screenshot, tap on it, circle the part you want, and drag it over. It's like I'm living in the future!
The biggest problem with split screen is the performance. Switching from the left app to the right app causes a 1-2 second touch input lag. Just watch:
If you use one app, and stay in one app, everything is fine, but switching to the other one introduces a huge amount of touch lag while it changes apps.
The reason this is so slow is because the two apps aren't actually running in the foreground together. Samsung doesn't have the technical ability to actually make this work, so they used a bunch of tricks to make it seem like two apps are running at once, when really one app is "on" at any given moment. I've got proof:
The recent app list only shows apps that aren't running in the foreground. For instance, if you have Gmail open, and click recent apps, Gmail won't show up, because you are already looking at it. If you go to the home screen and hit recent apps, Gmail will show up, because it isn't running in the foreground anymore. So, what I'm getting at is that recent apps is a good way to know if an app is running or not.
In this picture we have two apps "open," the browser and S Note. The last thing I touched was the browser, so it's the foreground app. S Note shows up in the recent apps list, because it is closed. If both of these were really running, neither would show up in recent apps. This is why there's such a huge delay when switching between apps, the app your switching to isn't actually running - the delay is caused by it silently opening in the background.
Recent apps is also totally confused. The browser and S Note are one screen, so really, you should only have 1 thumbnail that says "Internet / S Note," but, because this is a dirty hack, Android generates two recent app listings that both launch the same screen. It also horizontally stretches the half-screen thumbnails. Crazy.
There are also some cases where split screen doesn't keep its halves straight. Launching a video from the gallery, for instance, opens the video on the wrong side.
So here's a bad idea: Samsung decided that, instead of a button or something to change keyboard types they're going with a pinch-to-zoom gesture. (Who makes decisions like this?) So if you type to quickly, especially with 10-finger typing, you will accidentally trigger this option. As far as I can tell, there's no way to turn it off.
You'll be accidentally switching between 3 different keyboard styles: a normal, full screen keyboard, a smaller keyboard, I assume for Palm Pilot-style pen typing, and a split keyboard for thumb typing.
All the keyboards do have a fifth row of number buttons, which I absolutely love.
Auto correct is off by default, and you're going to want to keep it that way, because it has the same awful, confusing, in-field auto correct as the Galaxy S III. Most keyboards have a suggestions bar, but this keyboard puts the suggestions in the current text field. So if you type "Andr," it fills your text field with "Andrew" and it's up to you to resist the urge to backspace.
There is a handwriting recognition keyboard, too. It works surprisingly well. Though it really needs to have some kind of context-aware correction. Here I didn't open my "e" enough in "does," so it says "It also docs handwriting recognition."
The Note is packing a 7000mAh battery, so the battery life is fantastic. I would show you more battery screenshots, but the thing lasts for days, that would just take too long!
Samsung really needs to adjust the "low battery" warning. It popped up at 15%, I never charged it, and 12 (mostly idle) hours later, it's still going strong.
The biggest power problem I have is with the super short, proprietary charger. I understand that tablets need proprietary chargers because USB doesn't put out enough juice, but if it isn't going to be a standard, you've got to stop skimping out on the length. 3 feet isn't long enough to do anything, and I really can't go out and buy anything longer. The only solution is an extension cord.
On the software side: Samsung desperately wants to develop the next version of Android themselves, but they lack the technical ability, vision, ecosystem support, and design chops to make it happen. They want to add features, and maybe even have a good idea or two, but they just can't execute those ideas in a way that makes them good. Split screen, for instance, needed to be a core OS function, but it's clearly a hack that was tacked on at the UI layer. It's a bunch of tricks that look like split screen, but you're never really running 2 apps at once.
Floating apps have got to be the most frustrating thing in the world for Samsung. You try for years to differentiate yourselves with Android. You finally come up with a good idea, and you build it, and it works, and the UI is even almost-good, but it still doesn't matter because you don't control the right parts of Android to innovate in any meaningful ways. I want to float or split screen apps like Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube, and Chrome, and Samsung doesn't control those. Google owns all the good parts of Android, and if they aren't compatible with your new thing, then your new thing isn't any good. Floating apps are a great idea, and the functionality is well-implemented, but Samsung's floating apps can't do anything useful! I almost feel bad for them.
So my message to Samsung is: If you can't do this correctly, stop skinning Android. You've been trying and failing for so many years and nothing good has come of it, so just stop. Even when you have a good idea, like split screen and floating apps, you don't control the right parts of Android to make it work. So just accept it and leave the OS development to the professionals. You can't add any worthwhile functionality at the layer you normally change, and you have no taste for design. Stock Android is so good now, messing with it is like getting a fully-cooked meal from a famous, 5 star chef, and then smothering it with ketchup. So stop.
And as for the hardware: Please don't buy this.
Samsung is the world's largest Android OEM, by a huge margin. They need to get the message that this kind of half-assed, lazy, profit-margin-first style of device building is unacceptable.
The hardware is pure, unadulterated garbage. The build quality is so bad, I think it gave me cancer. Samsung gave us last year's display tech and saved their best tablet screen for Apple.
It's been about 1 month since Google forever changed the Android tablet landscape with the release of the Nexus 7, and it's clear the Note 10.1 was designed and priced in the pre-N7 dark ages. This tablet is bad at any price point, but, somehow, Samsung found the courage to charge five hundred dollars for it. That's 2-and-a-half Nexus 7s, and, to be honest, the N7 feels more expensive than the Note 10.1.
The saddest thing is, Samsung can do so much better. The Series 9 laptop guys make beautiful, kick-ass products out of aluminum every day. In fact, they use some crazy aluminum alloy called "Duralumin." I want that. You guys also make the iPad display, why don't you just whip up a widescreen version? Is the mobile division entirely run by passionless, cost-cutting bean-counters? Show some pride in your work, pull the best parts of Samsung together, and make something great.
The overall impression I get from this is arrogance. "We're Samsung. You slobs will buy anything we crap out. We don't have to try, we don't even need the latest components. You'll buy it no matter what."