on November 15, 2013
This tablet has entirely streamlined my educational, professional, and personal productivity. I will preface this by saying I chose this tablet (as my very first tablet of any kind) after 5 WEEKS of research and hours and hours of reading the manual, watching video of reviews, unboxing, customization, how-to's, tips and tricks, and specific software guides. I had the nexus 10 in my amazon shopping cart when I first came across this tablet. I will nowhere in this review compare this to an apple device- I have never and will never own one- personal preference, I wholeheartedly believe iOS is sufficient or ideal for a lot of people's use, just not ever going to be for mine. As background, I am in an international DVM program whose laptop just crashed and all 600+gigs of my life were backed up but now only floating in cyberspace so my requirements were a little heady for a tablet-
a) deal with extensive editing and review of PDFs, PPTs, DOCs, XLXS, etc 14-17hrs a day (terms range from 21-24 credits, 4-5hrs of lecture straight, 3-4 hrs of lab with no access to outlet in many labs). Also when I say edit I don't just mean take notes on I also mean incorporate text, figures, etc from textbooks, websites, and other documents.
b) Be a textbook reader and rarely a e-book reader (novels for fun!) Need to access my extensive kindle library, plus some google books and a few Elsevier/pageburst textbooks. Also this needs to be something I am comfortable and accepting of to literally study off of, enough to give up my previous preferring to only study off of paper/actual printed out notes
c) Allow for flawless email, web chat, skype video and text, some web browsing, and file transfer... all on an absolutely horrible school wireless and LAN setup, unpredictable power availability, etc.
d) Streaming and downloading of podcasts, video, MRI, CT, radiographs, and ECG's
e) Be portable to the clinic and the farms for patient-side transcription, recording, etc
f) Get me through the 5-6hr flight and all the airport time!
g) Occasionally watch videos/listen to things for fun
h) Most importantly, due to a dominant hand injury, multiple surgeries, and continued required hand therapy/rehab, I am currently able to write again but not to type with that hand. I therefore wanted a tablet that was stylus intensive- not just for notes, but for navigation, etc. THIS is what made me give up that wonderful squeaky clean android OS of the nexus 10! (I still thing that is probably the best thing for people that want an android tablet but don't NEED a stylus)
So my tablet arrived flawless and flawlessly. The display is beautiful, if anything the screen is too bright- I'm aware my eyes are light sensitive so this won't match with the majority of people but if I do turn my brightness on at all I don't believe I've ever gone above 15%, though I'm sure there will be some case videos poorly and darkly shot that I may need to in the future.
i) at least temporarily, replace my laptop and download and have as much of my backed up laptop files as possible
The tablet was quickly populated with the apps from my HTC phone and google account. The account set up for everything was quick and easy. The initial 2 updates were completed with no adverse signs. Navigation was great, no lag, and I quickly cleared out the stock widgets, set up my panes, and then went into settings.... I activated Developer options and did some customization and disabling there, but most of the disabling I did in app manager, device, and controls. There are very helpful guides out there if you're not sure which apps are safe to disable as well as a "Guide: Longer Battery Life- How You're Being Robbed on XDA that takes you step by step in maximizing your tablet. It was not created at the time when I cleaned up mine but it would've helped greatly!
Here is the gist. The tablet comes crammed full of software and capabilities that I don't need or want. The My Magazine app, a lot of the touchwiz stuff, the eye movement sensors(smart screen), the hand gesture stuff, reading mode, voice control, motions/palm motions, all of that is just a constant battery drain and I will never use them. They were disabled and the vibration feedback for everything was also turned off.
Battery Report: This tablet was shipped within the US twice, and was brought internationally on a plan 4 days later. It was accidently left on the ENTIRE time for about 8 days with six apps up on standby. It arrived with 18% battery left. I use it for 15-17hours a day and end up having to charge it 2-3hrs per about ever 24hr period to get it back to 100. I can use it while it is charging and it will still positively charge during use.
USE FOR A STUDENT: It has replaced textbooks, laptop, printer, scanner, and painstakenly editing and customizing notes and making documents for me. Disclaimer: as someone who used to be able to type 130+ words per minute, I'll make perfectly clear, if you prefer to type and plan on typing a LOT tablet touchscreen keyboards SUCK. This is a fact of life. You can get used to them, you can get proficient at them, but you'll still probably hate it and you're going to need a physical keyboard case/add on if you do a lot of typing of documents or emails. Now, this tablet is made for a stylus. This is not just a peculiarly edged simple piece of plastic that you can buy for just about any touchscreen device and kind of use as a writing device. This is the s-pen, a WACOM and this device and stylus is designed to maximize the experience so you are writing or drawing digitally with an experience just like on paper. Examples- the harder you press the more solid and thicker your pencil/pen/brush/highlighter/calligraphy/etc line. The button on the stylus brings up air command which can be super helpful and it also allows quick screen shots. The stylus allows for fine website navigation that allows you to open drop down windows etc as mouse would. It also offers things a real pen/pencil cant- selective erasing, and selection for drag/drop/copy/paste of ANYTHING to ANYWHERE. You're typing notes and see a great figure and text on a website, you can freehand or rectangular circle what you want and put it into your document. Then you can resize/edit. It's great. I've been using the Snote app for everything thus far, I have made short futile attempts with Lecture Notes and Evernote but I couldn't really get anywhere. I'm not going to give up on then, I just need to research them more to see if I can eventually get them to do what I want and then I can compare them to Snote.
USE FOR A PROFESSIONAL: So far, this has been wonderful. I can seamlessly take notes, look up references, voice record my exam findings, and awkwardly as only a tablet is, take video and pictures of patient's during an exam for later review. (Extremely helpful during lameness and neuro exams for the file). Collaborative documents through Polaris office and google drive is exceptional- as fast as a laptop and more portable, and better screen size than a smartphone. It runs better than the school computers for running presentations off of onto projectors. I can also have students I tutor digitally sign- literally our weekly sheets and submit them via email with one step- completely negating the awesome printer and scanner I brought down here.
USE FOR A CONSUMER: I find this tablet beautiful for watching movies and videos and the sound is great. In a classroom of 50 people chatting between classes I have no problem hearing the speakers among the hub but there are completely valid reports that even cranked the sound might get lost a little if you're in a very loud close crowd. Sound improves with earbuds but the initial audio set up app (basically a hearing test and then a customized audio scheme for you) was startling when it compared the stock/base line settings to what it came up with for ME.
USE FOR AN ARTIST: I'm still learning and adapting, I'll never turn to this instead of actual physical art supplies and paper but it is fun and I can really see myself doing more digital than before. It has been especially nice for graphic design, photoshopping, etc.
USE AS A LEFTY: no issues except see below for one thing that affects both right and left handers...
ISSUES: 1) One day after about a week of ownership, my battery was in the upper 80's, I was taking some notes and about 2hrs later I looked at the status bar and it was 29%. I went into Battery in Settings, and the s-pen interface was responsible for 80% of the battery use. I shut down and then restarted and it's never happened again. Similarly the Android OS did the same thing at a later instance but again it was a one time thing and in both cases the battery recharged speedily after and stayed charged.
2) Snote- I have had weird episodes where an import fails, or it force closes itself repeatedly when I try to rename or change the cover of one particular document. After this erratic behavior occurred twice in three days and completely clearing and restarting Snote from scratch (everything backed up and replaced on my Samsung account) to no avail, I did a factory reset. The last ¾ of my ownership have seen no such problems any more. I will warn you that if you wipe out S note and you start from scratch in it and re-transfer all your SNote files back in, if you have a lot of really big files, it can take a really long time to re-populate.
3) The menu/return and physical home button- occasionally based on the desk I'm at, if my arm isn't supported and my wrist is resting fully on the edge of the tablet, these buttons will get pressed while I'm writing. Its purely an annoyance and doesn't affect the writing or do anything but I definitely have to reposition if I find I'm getting lazy on holding my wrist up at these desks.
Wrap up: I only use in landscape, it's just like writing on a portrait piece of paper except you can also zoom. I got used to writing on the tablet and the tiny stylus very quickly but there are compatible Samsung styli of various widths and sizes out there as well. I thought about waiting for the new 12.2 whose screen is literally a full piece of paper landscape, but I realized this is perfect for me and more portable than the 12.2 will be (this thing can just squeeze into one of the pockets on one of my lab coats. I was planning on having to use the Nova launcher to avoid any lag but truly, this tablet was a speed demon already and I eventually got Nova solely for the customization ability and cleaner interface. It allows me to avoid more things I don't use and I didn't lose ANY of the software I do.
Bottom line, RESEARCH! PREPARE! And there will STILL BE A LEARNING CURVE! But it will be based on discovering unexpected cool features instead of on frustration). If you won't heavily use the stylus, don't spend the money on this tablet. If you're just curious if you could "get into a stylus" try one out first but prepare first so you can use it to the full advantage while you're there. Also, I came from NO tablet and no Samsung/Note experience and there are changes between the previous model and this. You don't actually lose much but things are moved around and different. Don't be scared to optimize it, I'm not talking rooting, though adventurous forays into that terrain have finally arrived as well. In conclusion I love it, it has made things so much more efficient for me, I get a lot DONE with it and it's basically all I have to carry around. I purchased the 32gig tablet plus a 64gig Sandisk XC which installed and worked like a charm. There are annoyances that come up but any issue I have had I have been able to fix. I have everything safely backed up on Carbonite and there's a million ways to sync all of your accounts if you chose (note some of this may be unnecessary or frequency can be dialed back too)
It performs and looks beautiful and I am still learning.
EDIT: FLASH PLAYER: This tablet absolutely supports flash. Youtube and embedded flash worked right out of the box, however, to watch my amazon video's etc, I just downloaded the following file- I cannot post the actual link but it's a drop box file. Install this and make sure flash is enabled in your browser settings/plugins and it will work in the stock browser, Dolphin, and Mozilla. Some people also recommend having your browser set to View Desktop site.
Edit 12/15/2014: Please see my comment under product question- "Can you use amazon prime video on the galaxy 10.1 2014 ed? asked by Judith C. Love on November 14, 2013" for instructions and the direct link for flash file
Edit 02/2017: My tablet got slammed by careless sleep-deprived brain addled 4th year vet students and the screen got shattered in the upper right corner. Still useable, not any real issues but concern about the little chips and cracks gradually loosening and only being held together by the screen protector I was itching to replace due to scratches but now couldnt, left me with the desire to replace as I was 4 months out of my extended warranty. Call it coincidence but literally as I powered up the replacement, this original tablet FAILED. The screen doesn't illuminate. At certain angle/light you can see it's on but there is no way for me to see well enough to unlock the screen and at least access over 3 years of my life on the original tablet. I am 99% convinced this is secondary to the trauma/screen break, and I had nearly everything backed up via Carbonite on the original except for the past few months of random downloads. Still, I am grieved and wanted a moment of silence.
Yes we had great times together but I am truly sad and a bit devastated because the replacement came with OS updates that I had been actively refusing to install for the past year. Thus, my new tablet in short, I can't stand. It's the same make and model except offers 4G which I don't use but it is unbearably slow (cant load my pdf vet school notes worth a damn- it's faster for me to find a computer, login to carbonite back up, download the enormous file and open it on the computer than to scroll through the pdf on the tablet one page per 10 seconds loading. It's truly unbearable. All the updates and changes are awful and its so slow despite me instantly ditching touchwhiz and using Nova Launcher.
Moment of silence for my beloved original, maybe one day science will advance enough for me to communicate with you without a working screen so that I can have you back. Laughingly, the one OS update I did do that slowed you down, turns out, compared to the ones that followed, you were still almost the speed of light comparatively.