Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a full-size tablet with a quad-core processor and stylus support.

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Eric Franklin
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Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, Samsung showed off its Galaxy Note 10.1. At that time, the tablet housed a measly dual-core processor and was set for an imminent release.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, in pictures (photos)

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Five months later and the tablet is still yet to be released in the U.S. (though it is slated for a global release this month). Thankfully, Samsung has taken its time and upgraded the processor using its first quad-core CPU, the Exynos 1.4GHz 4412.

I've not yet had a chance to actually play around with the Note 10.1 in person, so my impressions will be culled from CNET Asia's hands-on, Jessica Dolcourt's impressions of the tablet from Mobile World Congress, and my own impressions of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, which the Note 10.1 closely resembles.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is essentially a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 with a long cavity in the tablet's upper-right corner, which the included S Pen Stylus fits perfectly into. We'll discuss the S Pen and how it works to make the Note 10.1 unique among tablets later.

The white version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. CNET Asia

According to the official specs, the Note 10.1 weighs 1.31 pounds, only 0.03 pound heavier than the Tab 2 10.1. It has the same plastic back, but there's no word yet on what color (or colors) the U.S. version will come in.

When held in landscape orientation, the top edge of the tablet hosts five features: from left, a power/sleep button, a volume rocker, a 64GB capacity microSD slot, an IR blaster, and a headphone jack. The tablet will come in both Wi-Fi and 3G configurations (with an 4G LTE version coming later this year). The cellular versions will include a SIM card slot next to the headphone jack.

Two 2-inch-long speakers stretch vertically along the left and right bezel, and a dock connector and microphone pinhole sit along the bottom edge.

The Note 10.1's major buttons and ports. CNET Asia

The Galaxy Note 10.1 trades in the Tab 2 10.1's front VGA camera for a 1.9-megapixel shooter and upgrades the 3-megapixel rear camera on the Tab 2 10.1 to a 5-megapixel camera with an LED support light. Sadly, there's no HDMI option on the device, requiring you to purchase an additional accessory if you have plans to connect the tablet to a TV or monitor.

Software features
As the first major Android tablet release since the Nexus 7, it's a bit disappointing that the Note 10.1 ships with only Android 4.0 and not Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. While I understand what a tall order it would be for Samsung to include the latest version of Android on the Note 10.1, especially given the timing of this release, its omission is still a letdown -- one that Samsung will hopefully rectify soon.

Samsung's TouchWiz UX skin is of course included and comes with custom Samsung apps like Music Hub, Media Hub, and Game Hub, a built-in screenshot app, and the Mini Apps tray located on the bottom of the screen. Tapping it brings up a tray of apps consisting of a calculator, notes, calendar, music player, and clock. The task manager app is still the most useful of these utility apps as it allows you to quickly kill any app running in the background; this comes in handy when apps become otherwise unresponsive.

The Multiscreen feature means you can run two different apps on the screen at once, side by side. Unfortunately there are only a few apps compatible with this feature so far.

The five current apps compatible with Multiscreen. CNET Asia

Speaking of multitasking, Pop Up Play allows you to play videos while simultaneously interacting with other apps. In addition, the Note 10.1 supports Samsung Smart Stay, which uses the front-facing camera to determine whether the user is actually looking at the screen and, if not, lowers the screen brightness.

Peel's Smart Remote app
The IR blaster found on pretty much every recent Samsung tablet makes an appearance on the Note 10.1 as well. In conjunction with Peel's included Smart Remote app, the blaster turns your tablet into a remote control for your TV.

Peel can take the place of your cable or satellite channel guide and display a list of shows currently playing locally on your cable or satellite provider's channels.

Hardware features
The Note 10.1 houses a 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos 4410 CPU and 2GB of RAM. There's no official word yet on storage memory configs, but I imagine at least 16GB of storage being supported. Tablet mainstays like 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS are included as well as gyroscope, accelerometer, and digital compass support.

The Note 10.1's S Pen coincidentally fits perfectly into the top of the tablet. CNET Asia

The big standout feature of the Note 10.1 is its included Stylus S Pen. With the Pen, you can navigate the Android Interface as well as draw or write notes into certain apps, with the back of the pen actually acting as an eraser. This is the feature I'm most looking forward to trying when we get a review unit in.

The Note 10.1 uses a Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core CPU, running at 1.4GHz, marking the first time the chip has been used in a tablet. This is only the second quad-core chip Android tablets have seen, so I'm champing at the bit to see how it compares with Nvidia's Tegra 3 in raw games and video performance.

Unfortunately, the Note 10.1's screen resolution is a typical (for Android tablets) 1,280x800 pixels. Disappointing given that recent high-end tablets like the Asus Transformer Infinity have sported beautiful 1,920x1,200-pixel screen resolutions.

Look for more coverage of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (including a full review and updated First Look video) soon.