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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

New tricks

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

Closer look

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

Classic colors

You'll be able to get the Note 10.1 in either black or white.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

Business casual

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

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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