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The hardware is great. Samsung did an excellent job designing the Note 10.1. The materials are vastly superior to last year's model and the tablet carries over the same classy design language from the Note 3. It has an attractive silver band that circles the edges, a large display, and a faux leather back panel that makes the tablet easier to grip. It is solid, strong and comfortable to hold and use. Samsung took care to put the buttons close to where most users will place their fingers. Nothing about it feels cheap or skimpy.
The display is luscious. The Note 10.1 has a 10-inch WQXGA Super Clear LCD panel that includes 2560 x 1600 pixels. To call it pixel-dense would be an understatement. It is bright and colorful and produces sharp text, icons and graphics. The display uses the 16:9 aspect ratio, which makes it great for viewing video content. Movies and television shows in HD look fantastic on the screen. It also works well when looking at documents in Google Drive, Gmail, and other work tools. It is one of the best screens I've seen on a tablet.
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The S Pen is now truly useful. Samsung spent a lot of time improving the S Pen stylus and software that define its Note products. Tucked in the upper-right corner of the Note 10.1, the S Pen is easy to retrieve. When the S Pen is removed from its slot, the Note 10.12 automatically launches the Air Command tool, which provides access to the S Pen's five major functions. The S Pen can be used to create actionable memos, scrapbook content pulled from websites and handwritten notes on screen shots, and to perform device-wide searches with definable parameters (including written notes). S Pen apps remain open no matter what else you might be doing. For users who like the idea of stylus-based input, the Note 10.1 takes the S Pen and its tools to the next level. The stylus itself is more comfortable to use and feels stronger than previous generations of the S Pen. This helps a lot when interacting with on-screen content.
TouchWiz includes advanced features. Samsung's customizations to Google's Android operating system continue to add functionality and make the 10.1 more customizable than ever. The Note 10.1 takes the best features seen on Samsung's smartphones this year, such as the Galaxy S4, and makes them better.
For example, the camera: The Note 10.1 has the same rich camera software, which includes a bevy of shooting modes, or the lock screen, which can be set up to include app shortcuts and notifications. It also offers the multi-window view, which runs two apps side-by-side on the screen at the same time. This feature has been improved with the ability to drag content from one window directly to the other.
The Note 10.1 also plays well with others. The tablet can connect to lots of networks and other devices. It includes dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0LE, GPS/GLONASS and 3G/4G networks. There's an IR blaster built-in along with Samsung's WatchON software. Together, these allow users to control their home theater equipment as well as search for content to view on their TV. If they find something they like online, the screen mirroring function lets the Note 10.1 push content directly to an HDTV with ease.
Supporting up to 64 GB of external storage, the Note 10.1 offers plenty of space for media content as well as work documents. Speaking of work, the Note 10.1 is certified with Samsung's KNOX enterprise software, which can segregate sensitive work documents from personal documents as well as erase or lock data.
In sum, Samsung has a winner. The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is Samsung's best tablet yet.