Samsung's new Galaxy tablet sounds like a complete lemon.
Source: Galaxy Note 10.1 Review: An Embarrassing, Lazy, Arrogant Money Grab « Android Police
More design from Samsung's Legal Department, just like the GSIII. Everything about this is made to scream "I am not an iPad." Apple claims "substantial black borders on all sides being roughly equal in width," so this thing has uneven, "Pearl Grey" borders. Apple suggested Samsung could make a non-infringing device with a "front surface that isn't entirely flat" and "thick frames rather than a thin rim around the front surface," so Samsung fitted the Note 10.1 with hideous, thick, plastic framing.
Samsung didn't design this to look good, they designed it only to not look like something else, and it shows.Materials & Build Quality
This is a Samsung device, so you just know things in this department are going to be bad, but I never expected they would be this bad. Sure, there's the usual, tame stuff. You get, for instance, the same nasty looking corner construction I complained about in my Galaxy S III review. But this time, Samsung went all out and invented a new, even more horrible form of plastic.
The Note 10.1 is wrapped in the trashiest, most awful, cheapest-feeling plastic I've ever experienced. Sure, the finish is Samsung's usual glossy-plastic junk, but this plastic isn't even rigid. It's squishy.
Yeah, you heard me, squishy plastic. You can easily flex it with a light touch, and you can feel the whole back deform in your hands when using it. It's sort of like holding a marshmallow. Don't believe me? Watch this:
The Note 10.1 doesn't just feel like crap, and age like crap, it sounds like crap too. The plastic creaks and crackles when you apply any kind of stress to it - for instance, when picking it up with one hand. Listen to the noise it makes from a gentle squeeze:
The S Pen feels pretty cheap too. It's very light - it's basically a hollow plastic tube. Have you ever played with those hollow, plastic dummy phones in a store? This feels exactly like that. Except it's a real product that you are expected to pay for. The lightness is really off-putting, and Samsung knows it - they will sell you a heavier pen, but it doesn't stow away in the tablet.
As far as the pen actually working? It's a mixed bag. Pressure sensitivity works. Samsung will tell you it has 1000 levels of sensitivity, but it seems more like 5.Performance
If you've read some of the early reviews floating around out there, you've probably heard mixed things about the performance. Out of the box, this thing runs like crap. I mean it. I'm talking slower than a Xoom. The home screens, in particular, laboriously move along at around 15 FPS. The reason is the default widget setup. These 4 squares - Clock, Media Hub, Game Hub, and Music Hub - kill performance. So if you see anyone calling this thing slow, that's why.Camera
It's your standard, crappy, 5MP sensor they've been putting in everything for the last 2 years. Which is fine, because you should never take a picture with this thing.TouchWiz
Immediately, you'll notice some strange new buttons in the system bar. The 4th button next to back, home, and recent apps is screenshot. I'm not kidding. Apparently no one at Samsung understands that the previous 3 buttons are for navigation and a 4th button that isn't navigation should probably not be there. I've hit it about a million times expecting it to be recent apps. The usual volume down + power also works, and there's an S Pen button shortcut. I guess Samsung really likes taking screenshots.Task Manager
Ugh. A task manager. The "Active applications" tab shows you thumbnails of your running applications, and the little "X" will kill the app in question. If you really hate your tablet, you can hit "End all" and blow up every running app.
The "RAM manager" tab shows how much RAM you're using, and it has an extremely scary button labeled "Clear memory." I tapped it and it crashed my home screen and reset my wallpaper. I'm not kidding. I'm going to stay way from that button.Keyboard
So here's a bad idea: Samsung decided that, instead of a button or something to change keyboard types they're going with a pinch-to-zoom gesture. (Who makes decisions like this?) So if you type to quickly, especially with 10-finger typing, you will accidentally trigger this option. As far as I can tell, there's no way to turn it off.
Auto correct is off by default, and you're going to want to keep it that way, because it has the same awful, confusing, in-field auto correct as the Galaxy S III. Most keyboards have a suggestions bar, but this keyboard puts the suggestions in the current text field. So if you type "Andr," it fills your text field with "Andrew" and it's up to you to resist the urge to backspace.Conclusion
And as for the hardware: Please don't buy this.
Samsung is the world's largest Android OEM, by a huge margin. They need to get the message that this kind of half-assed, lazy, profit-margin-first style of device building is unacceptable.
The hardware is pure, unadulterated garbage. The build quality is so bad, I think it gave me cancer. Samsung gave us last year's display tech and saved their best tablet screen for Apple.
It's been about 1 month since Google forever changed the Android tablet landscape with the release of the Nexus 7, and it's clear the Note 10.1 was designed and priced in the pre-N7 dark ages. This tablet is bad at any price point, but, somehow, Samsung found the courage to charge five hundred dollars for it. That's 2-and-a-half Nexus 7s, and, to be honest, the N7 feels more expensive than the Note 10.1.
The saddest thing is, Samsung can do so much better. The Series 9 laptop guys make beautiful, kick-ass products out of aluminum every day. In fact, they use some crazy aluminum alloy called "Duralumin." I want that. You guys also make the iPad display, why don't you just whip up a widescreen version? Is the mobile division entirely run by passionless, cost-cutting bean-counters? Show some pride in your work, pull the best parts of Samsung together, and make something great.
The overall impression I get from this is arrogance. "We're Samsung. You slobs will buy anything we crap out. We don't have to try, we don't even need the latest components. You'll buy it no matter what."