Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 improves its writing craft

The updated Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 packages upscale tablet specs with a suite of apps aimed at putting the S Pen stylus to work.
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Holster it

The S Pen gets a bit of a design refresh, but remains about the same, with a button on the side and a holster built into the slate.
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New tricks

Sliding the S Pen out of its cubby pulls up a cluster of shortcuts for both new and familiar tasks.
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Closer look

The S Pen sports a plastic tip, clicking button, and comfortable in-hand grip.
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Classic colors

You'll be able to get the Note 10.1 in either black or white.
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No place like Home

The Home button is responsive enough that you can press it with the S Pen. The same goes for the capacitive menu and back buttons on either side.
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Business casual

How does Samsung define its new generation of Notes, including the Note 3 smartphone? With a finish that mimics leather and stitching.
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Rear view

The move to matte deters fingerprint smudges, but the patterned plastic is more slippery than it looks and can't quite achieve the verisimilitude of the real deal.
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Speaker system

You won't see the Note tablet's speaker grille on its face, but you will find a stereo comb integrated into the spines.
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MicroSD storage

The Note 10.1 (2014) comes in 16GB or 32GB varieties, but you'll be able to easily store all sorts of media on the external memory card -- up to 64GB, in fact.
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New interface

S Note's new interface is elegant and clean.
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Creative control

Using the S Note app, the stylus still serves your creative whims. Lined templates lend themselves to to-do lists and meeting notes.
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More than one way to sketch

Charts and clip art complement your own artistry, and extra tools turn writing and wobbly scribbles into text, formulas, and geometric shapes.
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State of the screen

Samsung updated the Note's screen to give it a bright, crisp resolution with a high pixel count.
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Multimedia handling

HD content, like this YouTube clip, played back beautifully.
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Camera action

The 8-megapixel camera took nice photos, but there is something inherently awkward about photographing people and objects with a 10-inch device.
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Portability is king

For a 10-inch tablet, the Note 10.1 is surprisingly totable. The bezel is large enough to hold onto, without taking up excess space.
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