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Samsung Galaxy Note Pro review: Not (quite) a workstation replacement

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Even on a screen as large as 12.2 inches, the Note Pro's 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution still looks impressive with no obvious signs of pixels or aliasing. The display is bright and colorful when viewed directly; however, it has one of narrowest viewing angles of any recent Samsung tablet. It doesn't reach twisted-nematic levels of color instability, but colors don't keep their integrity nearly as well as on top tablets like the iPad Air, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, or even the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. The fact that the screen reflects its environment so easily doesn't help matters.

Maximum brightness Maximum black level Maximum contrast ratio Pixels per inch
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 368 cd/m2 0.62 cd/m2 593:1 247
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition 326 cd/m2 0.33 cd/m2 987:1 299
Apple iPad Air 421 cd/m2 0.39 cd/m2 1,079:1 264
Microsoft Surface 2 315 cd/m2 0.24 cd/m2 1,313:1 208

Multi Screen allows multiple apps -- up to five on the Note Pro -- to be opened at once. Unfortunately, you can't choose any five apps, but instead must select from a designated few, found by swiping in from the right bezel.

Multi Screen's implementation has been changed slightly from previous Samsung tablets. While each app opens in a floating window when launched, which can make moving them around and resizing them cumbersome; however, if you drag apps from the tray to the screen it's much easier to handle.

As each new app is dragged on top of the other, they'll snap to the screen, each taking up an equal portion, until up to four are onscreen at once.

The Multi Screen app array. Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

There are minimize and maximize buttons, but once an app is maximized, there's no clear way to then resize the windows to your liking, and you'll have to either completely minimize it into its own tray or close the app or drag another on top of it.

There's a definite overall system performance hit when running multiple apps. Also, the visuals don't always scale when the windows are resized, and as a result text can appear truncated or smushed.

Why we can't have nice things. Things slow down something awful with multiple apps open. Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

Front and back cameras take better-than-average shots as tablet cameras go; the front shooter in particular appears to have a lower-than-usual aperture, resulting in fairly clean shots. The rear 8-megapixel camera takes sharp enough pics, but there's still a dearth of color within the images.

The Note Pro lasted 11 hours playing an HD video in Airplane mode. That's better than the average tablet and a pleasant surprise given its extra-large screen. That's about 30 minutes less than the Surface 2 and a good 2 hours less than the iPad Air. Check out our full list of tablet battery results for more comparisons.

Gaming performance is about equal to that of the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, putting it about on par with most of the top tablets currently in release.

3DMark (Unlimited)

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro


Longer bars indicate better performance

Graphics test 1 (GPU)

Apple iPad Air
Microsoft Surface 2
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition


Longer bars indicate better performance

Graphics test 2 (GPU)

Apple iPad Air
Microsoft Surface 2
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro


Longer bars indicate better performance

Physics test (CPU)

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro
Microsoft Surface 2
Apple iPad Air


Longer bars indicate better performance


At $750, the question of whether you should you buy the Note Pro comes down to your own individual needs. There are plenty of great, but much cheaper, tablets available if all you're looking for is something to stream movies on while you lay in bed. The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 and 8.9 -- $229 and $379, respectively -- and the $229 Google Nexus 7 are made for that kind of thing. For something larger, the iPad Air and Asus Transformer Pad TF701T should satisfy your needs.

For those looking to replace a workstation, there are a few viable options. There's been a rash of cheap full-Windows 8.1 tablets from the likes of Asus and Dell recently. These tablets give you the full Windows experience -- along with keyboard, touch pad, and usually a full-size USB port -- for a decent price. A price less than the Note Pro's starting price.

The Note Pro beats the Windows RT-based Surface 2 on software options, but right now Microsoft's tablet has the best keyboard on any tablet and its multitasking implementation makes less of a performance hit. However, I'll be sure to revisit the Note Pro after I've used it with the Logitech case for a while.

The Note Pro starts at $750 for 32GB of storage. That's a lot, even for a quality tablet, and even at that price it won't replace your workstation. There are just too many performance and interface issues.

Right now, there are no tablets I'd trade in for my MacBook Air. Tablets can be effective alternatives, but just aren't ready to use for all your workstation needs.

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