Samsung tablet will go head-to-head with the new iPad. The stand-out feature is the same note-taking technology found on the Galaxy Note smartphone.
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Samsung promised to deliver the Galaxy Note 10.1 to markets around the world by the end of August, six full months since the product was first announced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February.
The Note 10.1 is a riff on the Tab 10.1, Samsung's 10-inch Android tablet, and the Galaxy Note smartphone. It uses the same form factor and screen size, but adds an active digitizer layer to the touchscreen so that it can be used with a stylus. Combining stylus support with Samsung's S Note software, and you have a fairly powerful device--at least on paper.
The Note 10.1 includes some notable spec bumps compared to the original Tab 10.1. It is a wee bit thinner and lighter, but the screen includes the same 1280 x 800 resolution. It ships with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and includes Samsung's TouchWiz user interface overlay. The processor has been improved to a quad-core 1.4-GHz engine with 2 GB of RAM, 16 to 64 GB of internal storage, and support for microSD cards up to 64 GB.
Samsung is making the Wi-Fi-only version available first. It supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. A version of the Galaxy Note 10.1 with LTE 4G will hit store shelves--including those of AT&T and Verizon--later this year.
The Note 10.1 has a 5-megapixel main camera with a flash and fixed-focus lens, 1.9-MP user-facing camera for video chats, a bevy of ports for connecting to other gear, and a huge 7000-mAh battery to provide for all-day productivity. Last, it contains an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, and ambient light sensors.
So what's the big deal with the stylus? Samsung's Galaxy Note smartphone, which has shipped well more than 5 million units, was the base for developing S Pen, S Memo, and the other related stylus apps. They let owners of the Note smartphone and Note 10.1 tablet use the stylus for text input, taking screen shots, scribbling notes on top of documents, websites, and images, and a wide array of other functions. These are features that the Apple iPad simply can't match and certainly help to separate Samsung's tablet from the iPad in terms of marketing and use-cases.
Samsung has said that third-party software developers are working to create S Pen-compatible apps, so hopefully the functionality of the Note 10.1 will improve over time. You can get a good sense of the stylus features in the video below.
(Pricing and exact availability hasn't been announced yet.)
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