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8/17/2012
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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1: Cool Multitasking

Samsung's new Galaxy Note 10.1 unleashes creativity with a pressure-sensitive pen and adds many tablet software innovations including true multitasking.

The iPad and most other tablets today are made for content consumption, not creation. But now that tablets are entering the workplace thanks to the bring-your-own-device phenomenon, people want a slate they can use for creation and collaboration, too. Samsung hopes to lead the charge with its new Galaxy Note 10.1. The tablet's biggest selling point is its pressure-sensitive stylus, called the S pen, for writing and drawing. But Galaxy Note 10.1 has many other attractive features you might like more.

You can see and use two side-by-side apps at once, a big multitasking first for tablets. This means you can, for instance, take notes in the slate's S Note app while looking at a website, or watch a video while writing an e-mail to your boss. You can even cut and paste images from websites and drag and drop them into documents. I also liked the video player's always-on-top capability, which lets you play videos on top of anything.

The S pen is located on the right side--just pop it out. It's based on Wacom's technology. It responds to pressure so you can make big lines and small ones. The pen charges as you use it, so no battery is needed. But all this doesn't necessarily mean the pen is easy to use.

I've been typing words my entire career, so going back to handwriting with the Galaxy Note 10.1 really slowed me down. At least it can turn your messy handwriting into text. And if you rest your palm on the screen the device is smart enough to know that it's not the pen and doesn't pick up the marks. The screen does smudge easily, though.

If you've forgotten how to write like I did, you can always hook up a keyboard.

Samsung hopes education will be another key attraction of the tablet. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 comes preloaded with the Kno digital textbook app, as well as the free Barnes & Noble Nook reading app.

The hardware is fairly robust, featuring a 1.4-GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel (MP) rear camera and a 1.9MP front camera. It runs on the Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, but there will be in an upgrade to Jelly Bean later this year. Hoping on the cloud train, Samsung is offering 50GB of Dropbox storage.

A stop by the app store reveals there aren't that many apps available. But Samsung is offering a $4 million Smart App challenge for developers, so that might change.

Is the Galaxy Note 10.1 better than the Apple iPad? That's a tough one to answer. The option to write is good--but who writes anymore? The old habit of using my finger took over and I forgot that I could even use the pen. It all boils down to personal taste. For creative people like me, a future version of this tablet might rival the iPad. This all-plastic Galaxy Note 10.1 feels cheap.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is on sale at major retail locations around the country, with the 16GB model going for $499 and the 32GB version costing for $549. Currently it's available only with Wi-Fi--there is no cellular option.

Take a tour of the Galaxy Note 10.1's features in the video below.


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