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The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 hit retail this week. It's a great tablet, especially if you have specific needs for its stylus. Even if you don't, however, it still meets most of the tablet quality criteria. Also this week, Samsung released a well-designed book cover case, with features specific to the Note 10.1.
While it has most of the features you'd want in tow, it's expensive and the few features it lacks are significant.
Design and features
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Book Cover is a two-sided case made mostly of synthetic leather. The back cover feels reinforced and firm, while sporting a feltlike interior. The front cover is divided in three segments measuring 1.8 inches, 3.9 inches, and 0.8 inch. The front flap is more malleable, while sporting the same felt-feeling interior. On the front cover, written in gray is a Samsung logo at the top with "Galaxy Note 10.1" toward the bottom.
The tablet snaps into the bottom cover, first along the bottom and then at the top, securing it snugly in. The lower-right corner remains uncovered, keeping the tablet's built-in stylus holder clear. At the top edge is a hole for the headphone jack, and on the bottom edge are two 2-inch-long rubber bumpers on the right and left sides. The tablet can easily be removed from the case by pushing back on the plastic clamps on the top two corners. While it closes fine, it would close even better if there were some kind of lock for the front flap. Right now it feels a bit flimsily closed.
On the back cover is an opening for both the 5-megapixel camera and LED flash. That's great, but when you fold the front flap back (something you have to do to uncover the screen) the camera is then covered by the front flap, defeating the purpose of the flap in the first place.
The cover has two different stand features, one that angles the tablet at about 30 degrees, which works perfectly for typing, and the other, made for movie-watching, sits at about 75 degrees. For the 30-degree angle, the front flap folds back and the smallest section magnetically attaches to the back of the case, creating an assuredly stable typing angle. Unfortunately, from this angle, the top-edge buttons (including the power) are partially covered by the back flap; the dock connector on the bottom can still be accessed easily. Also, from this position is a space over the headphone jack where the stylus can rest vertically, evoking a crude pen stand.
The movie-viewing angle isn't as easily configured: the first segment of the front flap is folded back and sits flush along the back cover with the second segment angled out toward the desktop. The smallest segment is folded toward the tablet with the soft felt side on the desktop. While fairly stable, this position feels a bit precarious, and any moderately strong knocks can quickly destabilize it. Unfortunately, from this position, the dock connector can't be accessed.
While the tablet doesn't auto sleep when the screen is covered, even when Smart Stay is turned on (a feature I've been spoiled by on Apple's Smart Cover for the iPad), my biggest gripe is the price. The cover retails for $49.99 and while this is indeed a well-made case, with some good features and a design that takes the S Pen stylus into account, unless you're burning a hole through your pockets with your phat cash rolls, it's simply not worth a price that high.