on August 18, 2012
Review updated 2/5/2013. I ordered this tablet immediately when Amazon posted it with 1-day shipping and as of 7/20/2013 I haven't had any issues as a few users seem to have reported. Don't get discouraged if you get a lemon; just return it for another - Amazon has free returns/replacements in such cases.
* Hand Written Notes
- S Notes - Exports to PDF and also JPG. It has templates for various types of productivity. My favorites are the ruled paper, the meeting template (date, time, attendees, meeting notes) and the recipe template (I can imagine this being very useful for the kitchen, propped up in a case).
- Papyrus Beta - This free application is very nice and similar to S Note but has normal paper templates such as College Ruled, Wide Ruled, Narrow Ruled, Blank and 4 different Graph Paper types.
- ezPDF - Costs $3 and is what you'll probably want to make annotations on lecture slides and whatnot.
- MOST applications allow you to rest your palm on the tablet while writing, others are not as well written. This all depends on the author of a specific app.
- SOME applications have nice erasers. Some times you can press the button on the S Pen to erase instead of write and some times you can just use your finger to erase while using the S Pen to write. This all depends on the author of a specific application.
* Hand Writing Instead of Typing - The default keyboard has an option that lets you hand write in any input field instead of typing. Long-press the settings (gear) button on the keyboard to select the T button which enables hand writing. Please see the User Images of this product for a good example of this.
* Multitasking (updated 2/5/2013) - Within the past week I've noticed a number of apps I use get multi-screen support so it's much less limited and a gimmick, now. I can easily be taking notes on one half of the screen while browsing or chatting or whatever on the other half. With more apps supporting the feature now it's a much larger factor in whether or not to buy.
* GPS - Fast and accurate. I am currently on the first floor of a two-story apartment building about ten feet away from the outer wall (sliding glass door) and Google Maps had my position within 40 meters almost instantly after turning on the GPS receiver. Within 35ish seconds it had my position accurate to 10 meters.
* S Pen - Comfortable to hold (I'm a 5'10" tall guy and have normal sized hands). There's an odd button on the side which adds extra functionality with certain gestures. I have no idea how it works because I'm pretty sure the S Pen isn't powered in any way, but it's more than just a stylus.
* Screen - Very sensitive. I've been taking notes for half of my classes on my tablet and it works well. I usually have the brightness set to 10-15% or slightly less in classrooms or at home because that's all I really need but also to conserve battery life.
* Battery - While leaving it on all the time, wifi off when not using it, I manage to only charge my Note 10.1 once a week. Standard usage includes notes during seven hours of lecture each week and using it periodically throughout the day or in the evening.
- To really stretch your battery life you'll need to disable some apps. I disabled Google+ and some of the default/Samsung apps that come with the device in Settings->Application Manager. As of 2/5/2013 I'm still getting ~7 days out of one charge with moderate usage.
* Build Quality - Standard Samsung quality. The case has a lot of plastic and the back gives a little if you push on it but it definitely feels solid. Now that it's in a case the build quality doesn't matter any more.
- Very smooth. I updated about 10 apps at the same time in the market, an operation which would nearly cripple my Galaxy S until it was done, and I couldn't tell any difference in the smoothness of the Note 10.1. While I was exploring I ended up having 15-20 applications open at the same time but again I couldn't tell any difference.
- Coming from a Galaxy S phone and hardly ever using a tablet before, I'm amazed by how fast this thing boots/restarts.
* Wifi - No complaints. It connects quickly and hasn't had any issues.
* Sound - Good, loud and scared my cat when I started something on Google Play. She looked around like she does when our surround sound is on because she doesn't understand what was making such a noise. I can't tell any difference in quality between it and my laptop when watching the same video on both (the laptop was ~$1700 before a coupon).
* Rooting Friendly - Check out the forum for this tablet on xda developers for info. This device already has developers that say they'll work on it and I'm sure more will sign up because the Note 10.1 stands out among the crowd.
* Universal Remote / IR Blaster
- Works well enough. I'm going to sell my Logitech Harmony One universal remote because the Peel application works but could be nicer. With my Harmony One I could set up custom activities like Listen to Radio on my Onkyo receiver but the Peel application only has standard actions like Watch Bluray. I can still set it to play the radio but it's buried in the menus.
- Great cable TV interface. We don't watch/have cable, but if you tell it what service you have it'll tell you what is currently playing, what will be playing and provides customized content based on the preferences you specify. It works with DVRs so I imagine you can manage all of that from the Peel application as well.
* Cameras - Amazon removed the images I posted for some reason so just take my word that the cameras work well. Both the front 1.9MP camera and 5MP camera fully live up to their specs.
* The Wife - Now that I've set it up the way I like it she won't put it down. You may not want your not-so-techie spouse to love it, but at least my wife won't be complaining that I spent $550 on it and then another nearly $100 on accessories =)
* SwitchMe App - When set up properly, if your tablet is rooted, this free application will give your Android device multiple profiles. Normally an Android device can only have one primary Google account to use with Google specific applications and whatnot, but this allows you to have separate profiles with separate accounts and separate applications.
Note: If you're going to use the SwitchMe app, DO NOT clone one profile to create another. Just set up a completely new profile.
on August 17, 2012
I didn't buy mine from Amazon as I couldn't find it on Amazon. I ended up going to my local BestBuy to pick it up. The reviews online were mostly okay except for The Verge which said it was sluggish and basically was down beat on it.
I decided to buy it and if I didn't like it I would be returning it. I picked it up around 5:30PM on the 16th of August which is the release date. The first thing I did was get rid of all the widgets that are on the home screens. I suspect those might slow it down. I kept only one widget which is the clock / weather widget. I then downloaded all my favorite apps and began to arrange and configure it the way I wanted it.
It comes with Polaris Office, which is better than QuickOffice if you plan to create and edit word docs, Polaris is easier. To view documents and complex excel sheets I find QuickOffice often does the better job. I ed up keep both installed just in case.
I installed 14 games on it. All of which perform very well. There are my favorites, like FieldRunners, and newer ones like Final Fantasy, Ski Safari, Nova 3, Osmos HD, Amazing Alex and Zynga poker that I also really like. This quad core eats through anything with ease.
Got the latest Google Maps, which is so fantastic on this. You can save a Map so it's available without a data connection. Perfect for these WiFi devices. I'm a fan of the new Google Play movies, music, books and Magazines too. But if you prefer Amazon or Nook, those are available as always. It comes with the B&N Nook Reader by default.
There are Galaxy Note 10.1 specific apps like Adobe's PS Touch. I've been using Photoshop since 1996 so I am going to carefully review the built in lessons for PS Touch, a mobile version of Photoshop and see how far I can take that. If you are a subscriber to Adobe's Cloud services you're supposed to be able to edit a PSD with PS Touch, save it to the cloud, and then continue to edit it with Photoshop the desktop app.
There is also S Note. S Note and PS Touch are geared to work well with the new Samsung Galaxy S Pen. This was a primary reason for me to be interested in this particular tablet. The S Pen is so accurate that you can hand write whole sheets of handwritten text with it. I didn't try to have it translated into actual text like type written text. I just left it as my handwriting. Really like it.
Now this new Note 10.1 also has a new Muli-tasking feature. I should say that it doesn't multitask any app combo you want. Just a few apps blessed by Samsung which are: The base browser, not Chrome, their video player, Polaris Office, the picture gallery and their email app, not the GMail email app. Their email app can be used with POP, IMAP and Microsoft's Exchange via the built in Active Sync. So I tend to use that email client for work email and I use GMail as my personal email client.
Now, according to The Verge, multitasking was horrible. Not so fast Verge. I don't know what you guys are doing but I multitask'd just about every way you can on this and it works surprising well. I wrote notes while playing video. I played video while scrolling up and down on a web page. I copied text from an email to S Note, which both apps loaded in the side by side both on the screen simultaneously method. I had no trouble at all.
I bought Autodesk's Sketchpad Pro and can draw with that just fine. I also bought Adobe Ideas, but haven't yet played with that at all. Samsung also has their own kind of store and I am going to see if they have more S Pen specific apps. Really like the S Pen a lot. It's exactly like a typical Wacom Stylus. It's sharp, not that horrible eraser head large stylus you get stuck with if you want to use a stylus on the iPad. Although the iPad has Paper by 53, which I wish I had on here.
I'm really just getting started. I'll have to update this review over the weekend. Only played with this new tab for about 4 to 6 hours now.
Check out Google's Currents for news, and Pocket for saving articles for future reading. Both are great on this tablet. I think all the bases are covered with this tablet. Movies, games, magazines, office and productivity, art creation and editing. It does everything. And since it is Android, you have a real file system which makes email a breeze. Love this thing so far.
on September 15, 2012
I am a long time Apple guy who currently owns 2012 Retina Macbook Pro, 27 inch iMac, iPad3, & iPhone 4S. I stay with Apple products mainly because Mac does the best for what I do. However, I never have been 100% satisfied with iPhone & iPad due to their unnecessary restrictions and limitations. I just couldn't find alternatives - I love Android in terms of features and potential, but the execution(overall user experience) has been lagging.
I guess that the time has come. Galaxy Note 10.1 made big step forward and turned the potential into reality. Just after 48 hours learning and playing around, I am convinced this is the device I want to use everyday. It is the first tablet that actually helps my productivity, no more frustration with restricted toy. So iPad goes to my mom now.
I won't relist pros and cons, since all reviewers already listed them. But I just want to correct a few misconceptions that some biased online reviewers manufactured.
1. Some people lie about build quality and they claim it makes squeaky sound when they grap it. Either they got the defect or it is downright lie. It feels solid and much better material for everyday use. Aluminum on my iPad may "look" better, but not practical without cover or case. I always had to use cover for my iPad to prevent scratches. But if you have to use case to cover, what's the point? It covers "beautiful" aluminum anyway. I don't even use cover/case for Galaxy Note and it feels just right in many hours use. Again, this two tone design(mine is white-silver) looks beautiful, very comfortable for many hours. This tablet is designed to work, not just look.
2. Screen - screen resolution is one of the reasons I was hesitant to try Galaxy Note. All I can say is just go try it yourself. This screen is beautiful! Yes you heard this from the owner who use Retina Macbbok Pro and 27 iMac everyday. Do not fall into john doe's resolution comparison, just go check it yourself! Sure 1920 would be nice, but I'd take Galaxy's 1280 with S-Pen any day.
3. Some say it's expensive. Do you know how much it cost to buy wacom device with this size and feature alone?
Most importantly, this tablet is so fast and responsive and delivers many things in my wish list "today". No more compromising and stuck with iPad. S-Pen, true multitasking (yes limited as of now, but it's already very powerful and useful), and microSD support (I feel like a prisoner who just escaped from Alcatraz!). I suggest you to check this device yourself and never fall into some online reviews.
Don't get me wrong. I still love Apple products and I will stay with Mac unless I see something better for my life and work. I just wanted to share my experience with Galaxy Note 10.1 because there are so many false reviews from Apple or Android fan boys and girls.
*** I strongly recommend you to watch all SAMSUNGmobile's YouTube videos to utilize Galaxy to its full potential. You will see why I think no other tablets can even compete with Galaxy Note. ***
One more thing...I know my next phone will be Samsung Galaxy Note II.
on November 30, 2012
Below is a review of several tablets I tried in MY chronological sequence with them, with explanations of why I rejected all but the Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 tablet. I am placing the same review under each model I tried.
Background - I am now 65 - NOT a member of the electronic generation! I love playing Scrabble and thought intensive games in general. I know very little about smart phones or tablets. I firmly believe that a company OWES SUPPORT to their consumers and NOT at additional cost! Customer service is VERY important to me! Before anyone accuses me of bias: I have NO connection to ANY of the companies mentioned. I am simply a consumer relating my personal experiences!
iPad - first generation - EVERYTHING you do with it is tied to iTunes. When I tried it, there was absolutely NO manual or documentation available for iTunes. Beyond the first 90 days Apple wants to charge for tech support. I found iTunes and the Apple OS to be confusing and difficult to use. The tablet, itself, performed well but I prefer an OS that allows direct folder and file access.
Samsung Galaxy 7 inch tablet first generation. This device runs Android 2.3. It is now several years old and STILL functions perfectly. The battery still holds an all day charge with moderate usage. I have never found an app that is "incompatible" with this model. This is an important point in the reviews that follow. I even used it to shoot surprisingly excellent videos of a music/dance presentation in a dimly lit auditorium. Now, several years later, with cataracts growing in both eyes as well as "floaters" in both eyes, I was seeking a screen larger than the 7 inch.
Motorola Xoom 10.1 tablet. It is HEAVY. While it worked well, for reasons unknown to me it was not compatible with several of my favorite apps. Furthermore, the screen seems to get greasy very quickly!
Asus TF300 Transformer 10.1 inch tablet. While the construction of mine was solid, all the other negative observations of other reviewers were immediately apparent. The tablet would not maintain wi-fi contact even close to my router. The Asus TF300 was also incompatible with many of my favorite apps. Finally, the Asus TF300 (and TF700 mentioned below) has a strange auto-spelling correct system that FREQUENTLY screwed up my typing. To their credit, Asus did answer my question with instructions on how to turn the spelling correction off, but only via email. They have NO telephone tech support.
Samsung Galaxy NOTE 10.1 inch tablet. While it offers a pull out writing stylus AND a rear facing autofocus camera, I saw little difference between it and the Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 table discussed below. At roughly $200 more than the Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 tablet, although it performed well, I did not feel it was worth the difference in price.
Asus TF700 Transformer Infinity - suffers many of the same problems as the less expensive TF300 model. SPASTIC OS, intermittent wi-fi disconnection. The auto-brightness control also appeared not to work or not to work properly. Perhaps worst of all, possibly because of the increased resolution (the improved resolution was NOT apparent to MY eyes - it appeared to me about the same as all the other tablets) the device is incompatible with MANY apps!
(added 12/7/2012) Pursuant to a few comments, I AGAIN tried an Asus TF700 and compared it SIDE BY SIDE with my Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 inch tablet. With the better processor, higher memory capacity and increased resolution, I GENUINELY hoped that the ASUS TF700 was worth the difference in price. I was hoping that the first one I tried was an outlier. SADLY, it was NOT. For some unknown reason, the Asus TF700 is NOT compatible with Scrabble, a major reason for my tablet use (to keep in frequent touch with my daughter). That, however, is minor and will probably be addressed in the future. Again, side by side, the Samsung Galaxy 2 tablet reported a STRONG wi-fi signal, the Asus TF700 reported only a GOOD signal. While downloading apps, the Google Play Store froze on the Asus, never on the Samsung. I opened several apps, one at a time, simultaneously on BOTH tablets and examined them under exactly the same lighting and circumstances. I WAS better able to read very fine print on the Asus (probably 4 point type, white against a dark background), otherwise, for all other apps, I saw NO significant difference between the two. My opinion remains unchanged, SAVE your money and buy the Samsung Galaxy 2 tablet unless you will use the stylus and autofocus rear camera of the Samsung Galaxy NOTE. I believe that Asus must work out a lot of bugs in their infinity before it is worthwhile!
Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 tablet. It performed as well as my first generation Samsung Galaxy 7 inch tablet until I tried to download the QuickMark app to scan bar and QR codes. According to the app developer, the app is incompatible with the tablet because the tablet does NOT have an "autofocus" rear facing camera. A phone call to Samsung tech support, and YES - Samsung BELIEVES in customer support at no extra charge, confirmed the absence of autofocus in the rear facing camera! Since I do NOT carry the tablet with me when I go shopping and am NOT likely to scan Bar or QR codes often, I felt I could live without the autofocus rear camera. However, I did find a different QR code app that DOES work on the tablet. I have now had the tablet for a week and am loving it. SO FAR, I have not found any incompatible apps other than QuickMark. I find the screen to be bright and sharp (auto brightness works well), and the contrast to be superb. I have used it to watch Big Bang Theory via the TBS app. The Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 inch tablet maintains strong wi-fi connection both anywhere in my home and at the school where I attend classes. Other than the lack of autofocus in the rear camera and the lack of direct USB connectivity without their proprietary cable (sadly, this lack of standardization is still common amongst tablet manufacturers), I have absolutely no complaints at this time.
IF you do not need or can live without a rear camera that autofocuses (it DOES have a rear camera and a front camera for SKYPE and other functions), I highly recommend the Samsung Galaxy 2 10.1 tablet. At the current price of $300 for the wi-fi 16GB model (memory is expandable through a micro SD card. I see no need for a 32GB model), it is VERY reasonable! I think there are also cell phone service compatible models at additional cost.
Advice to tablet shoppers:
1 - Buy from a source that allows easy returns without restocking fees. Amazon is EXCELLENT for their customer service, but you may want to buy from a local store to avoid shipping time and costs. Buy from a source that does NOT charge a restocking fee AND allows a reasonable time for device trial.
2 - Download as many apps that are free and that look appealing to you. Try each one at least briefly. NOTE any apps that are not compatible with the tablet you are testing. How important are they to you?
3 - Look at each screen under bright and dim lighting. How do YOU find the brightness (usually adjustable, if auto-brightness does not work well for you), the contrast, the sharpness?
4 - Log into your email account and/or create a Gmail account. Type an email to someone. Does the auto spelling correct work well for you? Is the virtual keyboard suited to your style and needs?
5 - Play with the tablet for a whole day, if you can afford the luxury of sitting with it on. See how long the battery lasts.
on March 12, 2013
Here goes nothing. I took a while to publish this review because I wanted to try and experiment with my Note and to address all the pros and cons of the device that others have posted about. It would have been unfair if I had posted a glowing 5 star review after only owning it for one day. Likewise, it would not have been beneficial to anyone if I had just blasted the device without spending any time using it. I went ahead and tried to learn as much as I could about the Note once I got it. I tried every app, every function, every setting and accessory I could get my hands on. I tried to make notes of what others have said that they did not like about it. I wanted to see for myself if the problems they pointed out applied to me. I won't go into details about specs, or compare my Note to other devices. Sufficed to say, more than enough other people have posted such reviews. All I can say is that I have tried other tablets such as the iPad and even the Nexus 10 and I do not regret my purchase of my Note 10.1.
Before you read any further, you should be aware of the learning curves of tablets in general and the Note 10.1 in particular.
Beginner - If you have never used a tablet device you will have a learning curve. You will need to learn how to maximize and minimize apps. You will need how to install apps and visit the app store. You will also have to realize that just because an app is bad, that does not mean the Note itself is at fault. Not every app maker takes the time to customize their products for every device and you need to be aware going in to this purchase that many apps are not maximized to work and be viewed perfectly on a tablet device. If you can handle the beginner learning curve, and teach yourself how to view Netflix and listen to music and play Angry Birds and you feel like your brain will explode from all the new things you had to learn, then you probably don't need a Note. If you don't want to do anything else beside these basic functions I would suggest you save some money and buy a Kindle Fire or a less expensive device. They will be more than powerful enough for what you need them to do. Don't get a Note and then complain it is over priced simply because you do not use it to its full potential.
Advanced - If you learned all the basics about the Note, or have mastered these type of devices and are hungry for more, then get a Note. Keep in mind you will then have to spend more of your own precious free time to learn all the extra things this device can do. It will not magically do everything for you. Just because you get a Note does not mean you will magically be able to edit pictures in Photoshop or master handwriting tools and use the stylus by simply turning the device on. There is a steep learning curve and the manuals/tutorials included from Samsung are terribly bare. You will be left to your own to discover resources that help you take full advantage of your new device. Luckily for you, you can find tons of these resources out on the web!
Here are a few of the pros and cons folks have posted about and what I found out.
Pros (and some small concerns):
-Auto rotate for most programs , Netflix, Internet, Facebook. Most apps will auto rotate for you. Great for when you want to view some websites or larger files in portrait mode. I noticed that some of the older apps do not auto rotate. Since I started using this a few have updated themselves and fixed the problem, but it varies by the app maker. I also noticed that a few of the newer apps that should rotate, did not. I then realized this happens mostly for apps that use the front facing camera. I guess it make sense for these apps to not allow you to use the Note upside down, otherwise your camera output to apps such as Skype would result in your face showing upside down to the person you would be chatting with at the time. For the most part this only caused one minor annoyance since I have been using the Note. Mainly, when I try and charge the Note while using it, the charging cable fits into the bottom of the device. I can't then go ahead and place the device on my lap because I will pinch the charging cable. So I just have to make sure not to charge the device while I am using a few camera specific apps. Not really a big bother though.
- Store maps for offline use! Great app feature, specially since you don't have to find WiFi signal or use your phone's hotspot to update the map on long trips.
- Streams from my home media server and allows me to access all my movies and music from anywhere in the house. Even the backyard.
- WiFi works fine. I have no problems logging into both 2.4 and 5 networks. Even at the slower speed I am able to stream videos from my media server and apps such as Netflix with no lag whatsoever. I also connect to multiple WiFi networks at work and other locations and never have an issue trying to connect.
- Cameras are not the best you will see out there but both work nice. Both front and back have decent image quality and so far the video taken on the rear facing camera looks great. I know folks always want the greatest and latest but the cameras are more than ample enough for everyday use. The stock app is ok but I prefer to use one I got from the app store. More about this later.
- TV remote works great. I am able to control not only my home TV and cable but also my folks TV and their satellite service from my tablet. Needless to say it took them a few visits until they realized I was the one messing with their channels and they were indeed not going crazy!
- HDMI output works great but no subtitles! The HDMI out adapter is a bit confusing. You actually have to plug your wall charger into it then then to the TV and once that is done it works great! I am able to save some of my movie files on my Note for offline viewing on long trips and can then output the movie to an HDMI input on any TV. Works great. There is one drawback though and this seems to be universal across most tablet makers. If you are viewing a website and decide to export it to the TV for better viewing, the Note will not export any subtitles. You can see them just fine on the Note, but not on the TV. I have asked Samsung about this but not have had a definite reply yet. It should not matter if you don't use subtitles though.
- Overall performace is great. I can open multiple apps, multi task items and even have a pop up video playing at the same time and have no performance issues. I did test out one of these Notes at an electronics retailer that had the old Android OS and it was not as fast as the one I got. The latest upgrade really helped performance. I have no complaints in this department.
-Not all programs can be multitasked. Samsung is bringing out new software patch for phones that will allow multi task on all apps for their newer phones, maybe it will trickle down to the Note. However, I like the real estate on my Note. I am not sure how many items I would like opened at once.
-If charging while using an app that doesn't auto rotate, charging cable sticks out the bottom. Very inconvenient location.
Here are some the of the apps I use. Most are free, some are not.
- S Note exports to jpg and PDF file formats. However, the handwriting takes time to learn. I was having a rough time of it at first but then messed around with the stylus settings and sensitivity and can whip out notes of all kinds with no troubles. I also adore the S Note feature that ignores your hand if it accidentally touches the tablet surface when using the S pen. Otherwise, I would have smudges on every document I have writen so far. There is a small learning curve for this app. Do not despair.
- PS Touch is awesome! Takes a larger than normal learning curve though. I found 2 great channels on Youtube where the users teach you various functions of this app step by step. It is great to sit in front of the TV and watch someone use the features of this app in real life while you practice on your Note and master them. If you use Photoshop on your PC then you will be glad to know the menus and options for this app are very similar to the PC versions so you are already ahead of the game. It is not a full blown version but pretty good nonetheless.
- Dropbox is great for multiple devices. I have my phone, computers and Note linked to the same account. I like being able to take pictures on my phone and then being able to pull them up and edit them on my tablet. Once done I can toss them back and have access to them from any of my devices or PC's. Also great for moving files back and forth without having to plug my Note into my PC.
- Amazon has two apps. One for their store and one for their apps. The regular Amazon app tracks your Amazon purchases and tracks packages, pretty neat if you use Amazon a lot. However,the Amazon App store offers free apps everyday. I have snagged several apps from this site for free and saved a few bucks from having to get them off the Google Play store. It uses your Amazon credentials so I like the fact that you don't have to enter additional financial info in order to pay for items from the Google Play Store. Also, every app I have looked at seems to be 40-50% cheaper on the Amazon app site than on Play Store. I have this app and log into it every day to see what goodies they are giving away. I don't like the fact it is not part of the main Amazon app but it is still great for getting free stuff!
- Kindle book reader. Great for reading books, I love the settings and while I would not get a Note just for reading books, it is a great addition for an item I was already getting regardless.
- Netflix works flawless. Also, if you have Netflix on an external device such as PS3, you can bring that up and log into Netflix on your Note and you can acutally use it as a remote and control your Netflix through your Note. Handy little trick that was added to android devices recently.
- Pocket Cloud is used for VPN connections. I am not sure if most folks would use the VPN feature on the Note but I use it to connect to my work on the weekends sometimes. I then fire up Pocket Cloud and bam! I am logged into my workstation back at my work desk and can access and run everything just as if I was sitting at my desk.
- SuperGNES. Yea, what can I say. A free SNES player that allows me to download free ROMS and play some Zelda to unwind once in a while. Purely for nostalgia purposes though.
- Skype I use mainly to call overseas and to have my mom do video chatting with her grandkids up in Ohio. They love it and it works great. Even better since it is free.
- Video Player that comes with it by default is pretty nice. Plays multiple video formats and is able to pick up my home media servers and stream from them.
- Youtube is a great tool to use. I love to have it up and running and be able to control it from my couch. Yes, like the Netflix app, android users can log into youtube from your device and control playback as well as manage lists and favorites and other preferences. I love it because when you have to search for items it is way easier to type into the Note than trying to navigate through the bulky and not very user friendly text input of my media devices.
- ezPDF Reader is better than just about every other PDF app I tested. Amazon has given this one away for free before on their APP store so keep an eye out. It lets you add notes and tons of other features to your PDF files. Works with the S Pen.
- Camera Zoom FX is a step up from the built in camera app included with your Note. It has some handy camera features and filters that are not included natively on your Note and too much of a pain to apply to your pictures once they have been taken. This app does it while taking the shots. Great time saver.
Notes: Some observations I have made.
- Some apps dont work as well as the full website, it is best to just go to the full website instead. This is for android apps in general, not just on the Note. However, some sites force you into a 'mobile view'. They look pretty horrible and are pretty useless. Make sure you force your Note browser into 'desktop view' and you will be able to view the full site and use all features on it just fine.
- Battery charge. I used it regularly to access web, Skype, few apps and some note writing using the S pen as well as messing around with some videos and pictures. I could go about 3 days or so before I realized I needed to charge the unit. Overall not too bad for what I was making it do. I went ahead and tested it over a few weekends of heavy use to see how it handled the load. I opened videos, web, several apps I did not need and multi tasked to my hearts content. Using this heavy load I was able to run the battery down in about 8 hours. Your charges may vary, but I was overdoing it to test it for myself. As far as charging times go, it will charge about 15%+ per hour when not being used, 12% if used while charging. So yes, you can fully charge it while using it. Just be aware, you will NOT be able to charge this baby by simply plugging the charging cable into the USB port of your computer. You can transfer files but the power output from standard USB ports is not strong enough to power the Note. You will need a direct connection to a wall outlet.
- Screen protector and a tablet leather case are a must. You need to keep this baby safe. I tried many cases and screen protectors before I settled on mine. HDMI out works nice. Just make sure you plug it in properly. Car adapter can come in handy. However, I had a bit of misfortune on the first one I purchased. Aside from that it works well. The charging cable that comes with the unit is very short and does not let you charge the unit while using it unless you sit next to the wall outlet. Get a larger one for charging and use the small one for Note to PC transfers.
*** Special Note***
SD cards! I was at the Samsung site yesterday and someone asked the maximum size of the SD cards that can be used with the Note 10.1. The Samsung rep answered "32GB". This is wrong. I am running a 64GB card and it works great. I have more than one and have the extra ones filled with movies for long boring trips. Since the latest Android update these cards are automatically found by your Note 10.1. Prior to this update you had to go through a painful process of formatting 32Gb and 64GB cards to get them to properly show up. I think that is why Samsung kept folks from trying out the 64GB cards. They work fine! Make sure you get the right ones though and be careful with the hassle free packaging ones offered by Amazon. Buy the retails ones instead.
I have written reviews on the types of accessories I ended up purchasing. I did much research on all of them. One thing I suggest you do is to be careful about your vendor. I had no problems with any of my accessories except one. The rest work great and are Samsung brand items. If you are worried about getting some of the accessories here, go to the Samsung site and register your product. After a few days they will send you a complimentary loyalty coupon that gives you 50% any and every accessory for your Note. (At least they did for me) It is a one time deal though. This makes the prices much more compatible with Amazon and takes the worry out of getting the right item that will work. I have only had one small problem with an Amazon item and I have been shopping from this site for many years. I find Amazon to be very dependable. Please read the reviews (good and bad) on every item in order to make an informed decision.
Response to other reviews:
Here are some notes I added to address the concerns others had when they reviewed their Notes.
-KIES - I am not sure what to make of this. Folks complain about this sayging it doesn't work, while others say it works fine. I use it on my S III, a few PC's and my Note and have no issues. I installed it because my Windows 7 PC would not properly identify my Note until KIES was installed. I have no issues.
-Saumsung is slow to push updates. I have heard this complaint many times. I would have to say I agree with this comment. Samsung is one of the slowest companies when it comes to pushing updates. They could easily just push out the latest Android builds after a few tweaks but noooooooo, not Samsung. They take forever to push these out. However, once they do push them out they add so many extra features than just the stock Android builds! My last phone update took a bit to get here but it improved battery life immensely and added a few tweaks that made the phone even better. The last update for the Note improved performance all around, as well as battery life and many added new features for free. Also improved SD card compatibility. I can hardly wait for their next update which has even more features in store! Oh wait, I can wait, because I have no other choice. They are are slow...
- It is hard to bring up apps from background? Tap the app button and the list comes up much like task manager. You can then bring up any previously opened app. It is located right next to the home button. What is so hard about that? Want to turn off apps? Open the App widget and tap away at what you want to turn off. I run my Note with tons of items running all over the place nad it doesn't affect battery life much. I am not sure why some folks are bothered by this but in my extensive testing I didnt find any unused open apps affected my battery life or charge times.
- S Note has a small space to write in. You can't fit that much on a page? Some have said this, but it scrolls down fine for me. I am able to use all the functions. It did take me a while to practice and get used to how it works though. It works fine for me now that I practiced. However, I had no idea what I was doing the first time. It is a learning curve and I think folks expect it to work like other programs they have tried before?
- Folks have said their passwords are saved in the browser. Once I changed the settings it never saved them for me. So I was unable to replicate this issue.
- The learning curve can be steep for some items. Hard to find tutorials or guides. I have to agree with this comment. Manuals and guides are virtually non-existent for the Note and the built in apps. However, with a little bit of searching you can find them online. The best so far have been the dozens of you tube channels on every app that I have looked for. It takes some effort to get started though. They will not be hand delivered to you.
-Flash upgrade! Many folks complain about the lack of Flash on your Note. This was a decision made by Adobe. They are getting away from all Flash development for mobile devices. Flash was too buggy and caused performance issues so Adobe just decided to stop supporting it and move on to HTML5. It pains me to see how many people post and blast Samsung for this. It was not a Samsung decision. With that said, if you go to the Adobe site and look up the archived Adobe files section, you will be able to download and install Flash 4.x for your Note that works just fine with every website I have been to so far.
I love my Note. I would not get one for my mom. It is more than she needs. I would get her a Kindle. It doesn't mean I don't love her.
Make sure you do your research!
If you have any questions about anything leave a comment and I will try to answer if I can.
on August 20, 2012
Update after 2 months:
UPDATE after 4 months:
Samsung is releasing whole new software suite, see comments for link,10 minute video of all the new stuff.
I have mostly positive things to say. I actually found out that it will not only run split screens plus 5 apps like I mentioned but up to 11.
The screen resolution is NOT an issue at all. Only with the poorest of feeds will the display show up as fuzzy. The speaker stereo separation is fantastic. I didn't really notice until I played an audio book and heard how noticeable the separation actually was. I added while docked, each of my 5 different portable speakers to the back of the dock and the tablet speakers sounded better.
Cons: I noticed that when using the Chrome browser, that with too many tabs open, like over 12, the cut and paste quite working and the browser froze. This forced a total reset. I finally exchanged the tablet. Same problem again. So I gave up using the Chrome browser, and not a problem one since then. So not the tablet per say, but it and chrome just don't play nice when used so heavily. With the included tablet browser, after too many open tabs, a warning notice comes up and instructs to close a tab before opening another. That's it. Love Love Love this tablet, a lot to learn but worth the price of admission imho.
I have been addicted to tablets for a couple of years now. I have stayed away from Apple products for personal reasons. So Android at this time is the best bet for me. I tried a Windows tablet last year and they were not ready for my needs at that time. The ones that might, cost over $1200 or more. I spend at least 6 hours a day on a tablet. I have owned 8 Android Tablets and one Windows tablet. I still have 4 Androids.
I started with a $149 K-Mart tablet and went all the way to the $600 Asus Infinity TF700T.
Asus TF700T, I know the Asus TF700 is a great tablet. I bought the only one on Amazon that was defective.No choice but to return. I just have bad luck sometimes. But it turned out OK in the end. I was able to wait for this one.
I have a Galaxy Note i717 5.3" cell phone and I love it, they call it the "phablet "but really it is too small for a tablet and more a supersized phone. But I love the display and the S Pen. So after watching MobileTechReviews, You Tube, of Lisa showing all the features of this tablet and her doing a smack down, with this tablet and the Asus TF700 Infinity, I made the decision to buy this one.
I am very happy I did.***Full Samsung video review, live links are not permitted in reviews. So to see them, click on add comments below.The first one shows the videos.
Pros: 1) It shares speed honors for all Android tablet with the Asus TF700 they are too close to call. Each winning battles back and forth for sheer power and speed.
2)It has split screen functions, meaning you can do two things side my side at the same time. Like read your email and do a web search on two separate screens yet on the same display screen. No other tablet can do that.
3)It has a very strong WiFi modem, it pulls in signal my other tablets don't.Nice Nice Nice.
4)It is one of the few tablets that pulls Wifi from both the 2.4 and the 5 bands. Exceptional.
5) The touch screen is extremely sensitive and it takes only the slightest of touch to registeryour input. I think because of the S Pen's needs for sensitive touch of over 1,000 ranges. I mean this touchscreen is the best I have ever used or touched.It tracks you finger movement extremely tightly.No noticeably lag, it is like the item you are moving is stuck to your finger. Most if not all Android tablets have some lag. So good job Samsung on that.
6) It has picture in picture video. You can run a movie on any screen and your can move the movie box around any where on your display surface. You can re-size it if it gets in the way. The display has settings like a TV or monitor, you adjust the color and tone.
7) It has a feature called Smart Stay, which is basicly a little eye that watches your eye. If you fall asleep watching a video, it shuts off. In the morning it has your place saved in the video where it shut off at. Nice feature for me.
8) It will handle up to a Micro 64GB SDXC storage card which writes up to 30mbps, really adding lots of extra storage since most tablets only support 32GB. Ipad and Nexus 7 don't support any on board.
9) It has a decent front camera for video chat, and the a decent rear camera with a flash, tablets are not cameras but this one is above average.
10) It has the S Pen, meaning your can write, draw and lots lots lots more.
11) The software is unique to this tablet only, meaning you can do things on this tablet no other tablet can do. There are some others, older, that have some features similar but not close to this guy.
12) It will convert your printing or hand writing into text. It plots and solves equations.
13) It will convert your hand drawn circles and squares to proper ones, making your look good. It just has too many features to list with the S Pen.
14) It comes with PhotoShop software and the only limit is your imagination.
15) It has front facing speakers like all tablets should have.
16) It comes in White and it is lite and attractive and with 2GBs of Ram and a 1.4 Samsung Quad Core, it is one of the fastest tablets on the market and only $499..Compare to the Excite 7.7 and it is easy to see the value.
17) It will handle HDMI to a big screen and USB keyboards, mice, game controllers, external hard drives, I have have tried a 500GB external hard drive, and it should do even larger, just pickup the adapters. Not expensive at all.
18) It has a real GPS. Works without WiFi. Blue Tooth and so much more...
19) It has too many Pros to list, really, I only scratched the surface. Oh, it is also an IR remote control for you home TV system, even controls cable or Direct TV, it learns your favorite shows and suggests them to you. Too much, for sure...love it...Oh, and if you have other Samsung products, like a Galaxy S 3, it talks to them as well with All Share...neat...it also has a very deluxe battery monitor system that has 4 sections with lots of graphs and setting and over heat warnings to get extra months of battery life.I later watched a Samsung 10 minute and he showed multi-tasking up to 5 functions at once. Email and Polaris on the 2 split screens,then adding picture in picture video on top of those two adding the calculator and another pop up screen, over the 4 programs already opens. 5 open screens at once on and Android SupervTablet.
Cons: 1) It gets a knock for only having a 1280x800 resolution display screen, but, really it has adjustments like a TV has and your can set picture settings. So no, it doesn't have Retina, but it does just fine without it. Since not many apps support those hi resolution displays anyway. It could not be priced at $499 if it had all it has, plus the over the top display. This one is just fine, and I am fussy. Speaking of fussy, since I do go back and forth with multiple tablets, the two things that keep this tablet from being 100% perfect for me are simple. The blacks are fine but could be deeper. The whites are fine but could be whiter. While using this tablet I don't notice this. When I switch back to another of my tablets, I am reminded of this fact.However,once I pick up this tablet, I forget all about it and just enjoy it for all it's features.
2) This is not an iPad, so it takes some effort to get the most out of it, so expect a learning curve for the S Pen, but it can be used as a basic Android tablet if you want to GROW into it. If you are a person with no computer skills, it may be a bit much for you. Then again, you can just use what you understand. Emails, videos, Facebook, Web Browsing, and you can have a lot of fun playing with the pen
3) Double edge sword, the good it will fully charge on a 5v source like a USB port or 5v power block, the bad is it takes up to 5 hours to charge. So best to charge at night. In contrast my Asus charges in 2 hour 15 minutes but on 5v and turned off, it will only charge 50% all night because it's wall charger is 12-15v.
4) The biggest CON is it took so long to get here.....
Signed Happy New Owner...Cheers
on August 17, 2012
Some quick first impressions of the Note 10.1 - This tablet is what the Transformer Prime should have been. I really don't see a ton of value in the S-Pen YET, but hopefully this feature will evolve and become a key strength.
General touch responsiveness - GOOD - scrolling home screens is much more responsive than the Galaxy Tab 2, very close to the responsiveness of the Transformer Prime.
Web Surfing - VERY GOOD - Page loads are very fast, much faster than the Galaxy Tab 2, very similar to ipad2 speeds. Scrolling is fast.
Screen - FAIRLY GOOD - Same screen as Galaxy Tab 2. Similar to ipad 2. Not as nice as the new higher resolution tablets.
I/O Performance - GREAT - RL Benchmark of 21 seconds... blows the doors off of ASUS & Nexus 7.
The Pen - UNDECIDED - For taking notes with OCR the S Note app does not seem like it will be able to keep up with a keyboard and Evernote. The app still seems a bit immature, hopefully will get better over time. Included S Pen does not have the eraser side seen in some online videos.
Gaming - VERY GOOD - Frame rates are fantastic, touch and accelerometer responsiveness seem great. HUGE improvement over G Tab 2.
Compass - Worked great. Seems very accurate.
WiFi - Seems to have strong reception and fast throughput throughout the house.
GPS - Strong reception, quickly got accuracy to 20 feet indoors.
Sound Quality - VERY GOOD - The front speakers are really nice for a tablet. You should have not issues covering the speakers with your hands.
Build Quality - GOOD - Nice fit and finish, no loose parts, no surprises. Still feels a bit plasticy, not as nice as ipad.
Software - Everything seems to run without any hiccups, more polished and less buggy than what I've seen on Asus tablets.
Let me know if there are any other aspects you'd like to get feedback on to help you make your decision on this tablet.
on October 23, 2012
This is my very first tablet and I love it so much!!
I visited this tablet at my local electronics shop many times, read reviews, looked at available software, and even the reviews for the software prior to deciding to buy my Note. I've had it for about a month now and I thought I should share my experience so far for anyone else who's doing their homework before buying.
I am a grad student. I've been carrying a laptop and tons of papers around for some time now. I had notebooks for random notes from meetings, TODO lists, and ideas. Notes from my classes, handouts, papers which I printed just so I could mark them up. Oh, can't forget the assortment of pens and pencils for that marking up. I also had all of my meetings and schedule info set up in my phone's calendar so I could have something beep at me with a reminder no matter what... with my schedule, forgetting things is very easy.
The Samsung Note changed everything.
I was initially excited about this product because of the Wacom stylus. I used to do professional graphic art and I loved my Wacom digitizer tablet. Anything less than that level of quality just won't cut it once you've experienced their tablets. I was tempted to try an iPad when I saw another student was able to take notes with that marker thing, but I'm so glad I waited and looked at the Note. Wacom really dominates and the quality just can't be beat.
The pre-installed apps are pretty good, though I can see ways to make them better. I love S Note and use it for all of my note taking needs. The way it integrates with the calendar/todo list app is particularly nice. I can take meeting notes where I'm given some task to do, then click to "Create Event" which will let me attach the note to a new event on my calendar or todo list, complete with reminders, groups, prioritization, etc.. S Note with Calendar is so useful, it alone nearly made the purchase worthwhile.
Another great feature of S Note (though the interface could seriously be improved) is the ability to recognize handwritten math functions, then look them up on Wolfram Alpha. I'm a CS student and I find that pretty useful and cool. The only trick to it is that it wants to open the browser in split screen mode. If you already have the browser in split screen mode, it doesn't work. Just close the split screen, then try it and it's fine. Like I said, interface could seriously be improved.
I also needed a good app for marking up all those PDFs. I wanted to stop printing papers just to mark them up, discuss them, and set them aside, hoping I'd remember when needed. My solution was ezPDF which takes a PDF, makes a copy for annotating, then lets me draw all over it. I hear there are others that might be better, but so far this has been wonderful. My printer is loving the break. (I literally have reams of printed papers I've read or written...it was crazy!)
There's also a nice deal Samsung has with Dropbox. I hadn't used this service prior to getting the tablet, but if you do a few trivial things like add another computer and watch a tutorial, the free Dropbox account is increased in size from 2 to 48 gigs. I added my laptop and desktop, then merged every paper I had plus class notes and more into the service so my resources are all pretty seamless between machines. Granted, you could use a cloud service like Dropbox with any device, so it's not really a selling point... still very nice though. I'm glad it was there in my face so I'd go try it. :) The interface with Google Drive is also really tight so you can easily sync apps like S Note with your Google Drive account. I was very concerned about how things would be backed up when I got the tablet - loss of data is a very scary prospect when getting away from paper.
I feel like I've had a definite quality of life improvement with this device, but I'm still just scratching the surface of what it's capable of.
Oh, I suppose I should address screen resolution, battery life, and all that.
The battery lasts for a really really long time. I'm not sure just how many hours. I suspect I could use it for maybe two days without charging, assuming I don't watch any TV shows on it or anything. I went on a Dr. Who marathon a couple of weekends ago and it ran low after several episodes, starting from less than full charge. Even when it says it's critically low, it keeps going for quite awhile.
The screen resolution is ok. It is not as high as the iPad's, but then, as I understand it, that sacrifice was necessary to support the Wacom tech in this form factor (low power processor, etc)- a worthy sacrifice. In any case, I can't say I've complained about the visible size of pixels in at least a decade so I'm not all that upset about it. I guess if I bought it just to consume media, I'd be upset, but for me, this is a tool first, toy second.
So, to wrap it up:
- Great for class notes! (Also, no more smudging if you're left handed like me!)
- Mark up PDF presentations if your prof puts them up for download
- Create and mark up PDF slides while teaching or tutoring, then give them to your students afterwards.
- Like a brain extension when it comes to organizing.
- Save paper and toner!
- Stylus tech by Wacom - you just have to try it if you haven't before. It's really sweet, I swear.
- Fun for doodling, if you like that.
- You're free from Apple's walled garden, if you care about such things.
- Speakers are on the front. Nice when you want to curl up in your blankets and watch some TV. (Audio isn't terrible either, given the form factor)
- Screen resolution not amazing, but really not terrible either
- S apps could use some UI improvements. Loads of potential, just not quite to the point of being stellar apps yet. I'm optimistic for them still and use them anyways.
on August 19, 2012
============= Updates ================
Final Decision - I ended up choosing Infinity. Please see updated conclusion section. Also updated Battery section to Tie because I finally got transformer dock and had to change my mind of what I said before.
Week 2 update
1. S-pen - So I still don't use this feature, but just for fun I tried. Quickly, this is the closest to paper as it can get. See the updated section of "handwriting".
2. Windows 8 Tablets - Since recent IFA Berlin showed several upcoming Windows 8 tablet, I have decided to give a quick comparison to them.
3. Future Potential - During IFA Berlin, Samsung announced the Jellybean update on the Galaxy Note 10.1 is coming "very soon (changed from this year)." & showed many cool features of upcoming Galaxy Note 2 (handheld) device features, which most likely be included in the Galaxy Note 10.1 as well. See Future potential section for detail.
After one full week of use, here is quick update.
1. Stability - The stability of this system is amazing. I had only a single crush of stock browser, which at this point could even be my error of clicking pushing button by accident. Even on the iPad 2, I still had at least 1 or 2 freeze/crush every other day or so. So this is actually the most stable tablet/system I have ever used.
2. Lack of HD Screen - After 1 week of use, I had hoped that I would forget about my experience with HD Screen on Transformer Infinity. Unfortunately this isn't the case. Whenever I browse and open a web page, I simply have to zoom in to be able really read things, which again wasn't the case with HD screen. So yes. it is really noticeable.
At this point, I can say basically Galaxy Note 10.1 is pretty much superior to transformer infinity in every aspect except HD screen. However, the screen is one of the major point so the choice still remains to be a bit hard. But once experiencing the stability & speed of Galaxy Note 10.1, I don't think I can go back to infinity or any other android tablet that gives us freeze or crush every hour.
============= Vs. Upcoming Windows 8 Tablets ============
I was actually hoping with IFA, at least one of windows 8 tablet announced be my dream system i.e. customizability & flexibility of android, solid 8+ hours battery life, portability, stability, speed and full HD screen.
In short, no system met this criteria. The major systems are ASUS Vivo series and Samsung ativ series. Among these, only Samsung Ativ Smart Pro is the only one has full HD screen that Galaxy Note 10.1 lacks. However, this system like other full Windows 8 edition tablets are much heavier, battery life is mere 5 hours DVD play time, and price is over $1100.
Other tablets that are portable, and has good battery life are usually Windows RT versions. Given how stable Android OS on Galaxy Note 10.1, stability is no longer comparison point. Just like iOS vs. Android, it becomes applications. Windows RT edition only runs Metro specific applications. Though they will certainly grow, it will likely to take sometime. Given the rapid change in the technology, if you decide to buy a system with a hope that the application will come, you may end up not enjoying your system as by the time applications flourish on the metro market, there may be better spec systems with cheaper price. Furthermore, it appears no Windows RT based system have stylus support.
So in conclusion, though windows 8 tablet are not inferior by any means, there is no upcoming windows 8 tablet at this point can say "absolutely better" than the Galaxy Note 10.1 or even Transformer Infinity. Both tablet have still their own places and target audiences.
============= Original Review Below =====================
Quick background of myself, I had recently purchased transformer infinity as upgrade from my ipad 2, and Samsung galaxy 10.1 4G. It was a great tablet of its own, but had couple major negatives for the purpose of my use. So I had to seek for alternative. Given my relative unhappiness with Galaxy 10.1 original and 4G, I was a bit skeptical about Galaxy Note 10.1 but decided to give a chance. The result after 3 days of use is "amazing." This should be the flagship/standard of Android tablet.
In the review of Transformer infinity, I have discussed about iOS ecosystem vs. Android ecosystem. In here, I am actually going to focus on comparing to the transformer infinity, which is by many major review sites rated as the best android tablet. And I see several people are considering this vs. the infinity.
WARNING: Do not trust some reviews you read on the websites. I just do not experience/see the issues what some reviewers are saying.
============ Summary ===============
Compared to transformer infinity
-No HD screen
-Samsung's very slow software update
*Overall hardware spec
Note: I did not mention S-pen nor multitasking here because I personally don't use S-pen, and multitasking is good but you can do pretty much the same with applications on the market on any android device.
Do you want android tablet?
Are you ok with not having HD display?
Can you afford the price?
If yes to all three, then this is the tablet to get.
=========== Detail Review ================
This is in fact the biggest selling point of this tablet. I was always under the impression that by choosing Android ecosystem over the iOS, one thing we have to give up is the stability. So when I initially got the infinity, I had a hope but the hope of stability quickly went away. Browser crushed/froze every hour or so. Other applications also froze and crushed. In android world, I guess it's called application not responding (ANR) error. I don't think infinity had any more of ANR than the my old Galaxy 10.1 but definitely did not seem less.
To my surprise, Galaxy Note 10.1 is actually extremely stable. In fact, I have used so far approximately 20-30 hours and have not encountered a single ANR nor crush. Having stable Android system is just an amazing.
Winner: Galaxy Note 10.1
If you have never used HD display tablet such as New Ipad, transformer Infinity or ACER Iconia A700, you would probably not notice. But after using them for awhile, the sharpness of text produced by these high definition screen are certainly noticeable. With infinity, i can load a page and without zooming in, I can basically read entire page because resolution is so good. But with Galaxy Note, everything look somewhat blurry so I have to zoom in to really read.
This is a huge disadvantage of Galaxy Note. And perhaps, the reason why every other aspect on Galaxy Note is better than Infinity because it does not have to drive HD. If you need HD screen android tablet, you have to go with transformer infinity. Even there is not much HD specific applications right now, you will notice the difference on every day use.
Winner: Transformer Infinity
After doing some custom tweek on my infinity, browsing on infinity became much faster (at least so it seemed). When it is at maximum speed, infinity and galaxy browser loaded pages in equal speed. I tested this by simply going to the same site at same time for couple pages. But after couple hours of use, infinity browser always seemed to slow down or crush. This does not depend on which browser I used stock, chrome, opera, firefox beta, dolphin beta etc. The benchmark sort of show this. Sunspider benchmark of infinity was decently fast so browser should be fast, which again it was when working. But Galaxy Note 10.1's sunspider result is simply in another dimension. It's even faster than new iPad. Since stock is so well on the Galaxy Note, I have not really tried much else on galaxy note.
Another example is I use Mantano Reader for my ebook reading. With infinity, I could not open couple files. One was 50MB, the other was 400MB. It simply took forever and gave me ANR. If lucky and got it working after awhile, it only showed couple pages and then crush. I sent email to Mantano asking for fix as I could not believe with such high spec on the Infinity can be an issue. In fact, some files larger than 50MB opened fine on the Mantano. Furthermore, other PDF applications such as Repligo, Adobe Reader opened these files fine as well. So I had good reasons to blame on application itself. But the same file opens instantaneously on Galaxy Note and obviously no crush or ANR.
So despite infinity being fast system on its own, I have to give this one also to Galaxy Note.
Winner: Galaxy Note 10.1
Speaker on the infinity was simply a weakness. So any system can win over this. I am not expert on sound system, so all I cared was whether I can hear sound loud enough. With infinity, some of my video files were only barely audible even with maximum sound setting if there are any background sounds. This was different from any other tablet I owned. Galaxy Note 10.1 is just like others I have no problem hearing sounds. It is what I expected.
With infinity I had issue on listening to video file that was on the microsd using headset. Every minute or two, I hear small but definitely noticeable "beep beep." This was fixed by copying files locally to the device. But this sort of defeats the purpose of microsd... This issue is not there with Galaxy Note. So I can keep video files on microsd.
Winner: Galaxy Note 10.1
5. Software Update
No one can beat ASUS. Their reputation on the software update is the best of all android tablet maker. In fact, they have already released jelly bean on one of transformer line. So it probably won't be too long for infinity either. This will for surely be true for OS after jellybean as well. In addition, Nexus 7 is made by ASUS and has very similar specification to transformer prime, so future proof in terms of software update on infinity is the best on the market.
In comparison, Samsung is one of the worst in terms of software update. One main reason is that they make their own touch wiz customization. The original samsung galaxy 10.1 just recently got ice cream sandwich. Samsung announced that Galaxy Note will be getting Jellybean by end of the year, so we will get it but I don't count on the time. As far as the OS after Jellybean, who knows we may get it but that would be even further down the road and it may even become irrelevant at the point.
Winner: Transformer Infinity
However, there is a catch on this. If the actual software is working perfectly, do we really need/care newer OS? I was looking forward to Jellybean when I had infinity because I thought it would make the system faster, and possibly more stable. However, Galaxy Note is already extremely fast, and perfect stability. So I am not sure if I am much to look forward to in Jellybean.
6. User Interface
Transformer Infinity uses near stock interface. Their widgets are very clean. I loved their transparent weather, and date widget. Touch Wiz on the other hand, I don't think as pretty. Samsung Weather widget just don't fit well. This may be personal preference though.
Winner: Transformer Infinity
7. Build Quality
The actual external appearance of the tablet goes to infinity. The metallic Zen design is really great. It does look like expensive tablet. On the other hand, Samsung has plastic and I even had my port plastic broken one time on my Galaxy 10.1 4G. Clearly, it is not common place for accidental damage as it is simply so hard to break the piece by intention. But Samsung totally refused to fix it and asked for $100 to fix this even though I only had the tablet for 5 months. So I am skeptical for the durability of plastic tablet.
However, quality assurance seems better on Samsung. I had to try two Infinity. Both had light bleed, one had loose screen i.e. I can get click sound by pressing corner, sticking button (first one was volume, second one was power). According to XDA forum, this was very prevalent issue and pretty much most people had one or other. Galaxy Note I have none of these, and seemed like forum is also pointing to the same direction with very minimal complain on these matters.
8. Battery Life
This is one feature I could not tolerate initially with infinity. It lasted 5 hours if I use browser. If I play game, it lasted only 3 hours. Watching video or reading ebook without any browsing is the only way to get close to 9.5 hours documented on the specification. But in reality, I always surf net, so generally I could never get more than 6 hours from 100% full charge. Galaxy Note's battery life is amazing. Over 6 hours of screen time I was still at 50% one time. Second time 9 hours of screen time including 2 hours of gaming, 3 hours of constant almost pure browsing, 2+ hours of local video, and rest are ebook reading, I still have 30% battery left. This will undoubtedly gives me 10+ hours of browsing time. In fact, I am guessing this can even give 12+ hours easily unless I play game. Even with gaming probably 8-9 hours.
Some review claims battery hours on this much shorter, or even compatible to infinity. My guess on this is they only either compared video play not included browsing but even then the number won't much. So most likely explanation is they used 3G version of Galaxy Note 10.1.
In any event, battery life on Galaxy Note is simply amazing. When comparing tablet to tablet, without a question Galaxy Note is better. However, this becomes a bit more complicated with Infinity's selling feature which is extra battery containing docking station. I did not realize the power of docking station until I actually purchased one. But if I do not want to carry around extra-weight, I can simply think the docking station as a battery charger. I can do something like use as tablet at work, then connect to dock when get a chance/want to use as laptop/watch video. Even while I use the tablet recharges from the dock's battery. As I drive back, the tablet continues recharge from the dock. So by the time I go back home, I am ready to use the tablet for night time reading. All I need is recharge the dock and essentially I can completely eliminate the time to wait for tablet getting charged though with Galaxy Note's extra long battery life, this may not be frequent issue.
9. Overall Hardware Specification
This is technical aspect. No matter what the specification is, in the end user experience is everything; however, hardware spec can definitely affect the experience. Generally speaking two are similar with one better on one regard but other on the other.
CPU: Tie - Atuntu scores are basically the same.
GPU: Samsung Galaxy Note - Galaxy Note has the best GPU in any of Android tablet on the market right now. Still not up to the level of the new Ipad. Given it has to push less pixels compared to infinity, stronger GPU further makes difference. Having said this, I don't think there is any application on android market currently that pushes to their graphical limit. So not sure if extra GPU power make much difference.
I/O: Samsung Galaxy Note - Supposedly I/O issue has been discussed on transformer series before infinity. But infinity still has it. It had improved with the latest firmware, but not solved. There is speculation that this is indeed hardware level of issue i.e. can go only so much. The speculation is coming from XDA developer who tested running things off of highspeed SD card gave much boost in the function when compared to local storage i.e. Flash storage is the conundrum. This is reflected on the benchmark. The infinity had RL benchmark score of 80-90's with the latest firmware (originally like 120's). Galaxy Note has 20's. This actually does affect daily use as you save file, access file all requires reading and writing from flash drive. Obviously, infinity is not 4 times slower than Galaxy Note but this may be reason why my PDF file opened fine on Mantano with Galaxy Note but not on Infinity.
Memory: Samsung Galaxy Note - 2GB. Since most tablet still has 1GB memory, we won't likely to see anything that require 2GB memory for awhile. So it is only helpful when opening multiple applications i.e. you may be able to cache more application than before but otherwise, I am not sure if this helps much.
Screen: Transformer Infinity - See above.
In any event, both hardwares are the best in the market right now. If these two system cannot handle any more update, application etc. then pretty much nothing else on the market can handle them any more either. So as far as hardware goes, both are relatively future proof.
10. Future Potential
ASUS, the maker of Infinity, makes Nexus 7 and again it has similar spec as the infinity's ancestor transformer prime. So it should have good support from Google as well as future application makers. Furthermore, recently ASUS became of the playstation partner. So you will likely to see playstation games on it.
Galaxy Note 10.1 on the other hand is made by Samsung, who makes one of the most popular smartphone Samsung Galaxy Series. Since Galaxy Note and SIII etc. uses Exynos CPU design and the number of unit sold are so high, android software developers will/should continue support them and hence, also supporting Galaxy Note 10.1.
Update (9/3): Samsung just recently announced it is bringing Jellybean to Galaxy Note 10.1 "very soon." No solid time here, but compared to "this year", this sounds much more imminent. Only the time will tell, but it would be interesting how quickly Samsung can make the update to change its reputation here.
More interestingly, Galaxy Note 2 (handheld) device was just recently officially announced by Samsung. This device is very similar to the Galaxy Note 10.1. So new features coming to the Galaxy Note 2 is highly likely to be added to Galaxy Note 10.1 as well. If you are interested in seeing what these features are, search for [GALAXY Note II] First Hands-on Video by Samsung on Youtube. These features appear very unique (at least to me).
For those of you who thinks S-pen is just another stylus, it is not. You can never write as small on iPad, or Infinity because simply technology is different. So those who wants to have closest to the real pen and paper experience, you need inductive pen device like Galaxy Note.
Coming from the background of looking into tablet PC when still relatively new (back windows XP era), one thing I can say to test whether stylus/pen on screen truly work or not is write as small as you can and see if the tablet can recognize your writing. The conventional touch screen tablet like iPad, most of android tablet including transformer infinity, you will quickly notice the smallest you can write is not so small. You have some applications to convert your bigger drawn handwriting into smaller text, but it certainly is not same experience as you were to write on the paper.
Since I had time with this tablet, I had a chance to try this. Well, the smallest the tablet recognizes is the smallest I can write. So in this sense, Samsung did phenomenal job. Perhaps, this may be the reason why they could not include full HD screen.
Winner: Galaxy Note
============== Other less important features =================
Other things that I personally don't think much important are followings:
1. Split Screen
There are many applications on the Google Play that already allows you to watch video, browse web, take note etc. while opening other window. So it is nice to include as a free feature and emphasize such feature exist, but Galaxy Note's built in applications are limited to certain applications. For instance, I cannot use built in browser to watch flash movie while I read ebook. However, if I buy overskreen I can do that. And overskreen is supported on transformer infinity as well. So I don't think split screen should be decision maker for anyone.
2. Keyboard dock
This is mainly the feature of transformer series. But samsung does make keyboard dock. Galaxy Note 10.1 version is not out yet, but it is in process. The difference is that Galaxy Note one (probably) won't have extra battery. But I don't think it needs that as by tablet alone it can last so long and probably even longer than Infinity with dock. Form factor goes to the transformer as it attaches and closes like laptop. My personal opinion about this is, it doesn't really make difference. If I need keyboard I can still carry it. The total weight is the same. So another factor, I don't think should be decision maker.
=============== Conclusion ==================
Galaxy Note 10.1 is phenomenal device with its stability, speed, and extra function of S-pen.
Galaxy Note and Transformer Infinity are definitely two of the best Android tablet on the market at this time. Though all the major reviews only giving credit to Infinity, if you use Galaxy Note 10.1 you will know its power, speed and stability, which are even better than that of Infinity. However, I have ended up choosing transformer infinity. Because even when Galaxy Note is superior in pretty much every other aspect to Infinity except the screen, the full HD screen turned out to be such an major feature that infinity has(=note lacks). I read ebook, surf web, and watch videos. Basically, every second that I look at screen for these tasks I noticed the difference in screen resolution. Though not to the level of the Note, with tweaks I got my infinity browsing speed faster, and system more stable. After these tweaks, these difference are only wastes several minutes a day of my time in the end i.e. accumulation of 10 seconds difference in loading flash heavy site, system force close/ANR 2-3 times more than Galaxy Note add up extra time of waiting for page to load and relaunching applications.
It is not easy decision to make. You just need to weight what is important to you.
on April 2, 2013
I received my tablet as a Christmas gift and started using it Christmas day. After approx. one month, a section of the screen would not respond to touch. Everything else worked great. I contacted tech support on Feb 6th and they sent me a shipping label to send it in for repair. They sent a ground shipping label so it got there on Feb15th. They repaired it and sent it back 2nd day delivery on Feb18. The repair ticket said that they replaced the screen. I received it Feb 20th. When I turned it on, I discovered that they deleted all my data and it was still doing the same thing.
I called them back the same day and asked for a replacement since they didn't fix it. They refused to replace the tablet and wanted it sent back for repair again. I went through the same process again. I sent it off Feb 21st, they received it Feb 26th and sent it out to me on March 7th. The repair ticket said they replaced the screen. So I was prepared for what I would find...and yes, it still wasn't fixed.
I called them back the next day. March 8th. They were so nice on the phone and apologetic. They told me they would send me a new one. The girl that helped me clearly did not know what she was doing because she would tell me one thing, put me on hold, come back and apologize then tell me something else. She told me that my tablet would be replaced with a new one. Then she said I could provide a credit card payment and a new tablet would be sent right away. She put me on hold, came back and told me I couldn't do the credit card and that I would have to send my tablet in and once it was received I would be sent a new one. Next she told me she would send me a shipping label. She kept trying to send the label but it would not show up in my email. She put me on hold and then came back and told me that my replacement had to be approved. She said I would receive a label in 2 to 3 business days.
I finally received my shipping label after contacting the CEO via their website. I received the shipping label March 19th. They received the tablet March 27th. I just got a email today April 2nd that they don't have my 32GB model in stock so they can either send me a 16GB model or give me my money back.
I will gladly take my money back and get something else so I won't have to go through their tech support again. Now I am just wondering how long it will take to get my money back!
UPDATE! the refund takes 15 to 20 working days to be sent out. I think that is pretty lame since they have had my tablet tied up since Feb 6th and it is now April 3rd. Now I have another month to wait. To me, this is a poor way to do business.