Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 preview: First look

GSMArena team, 6 April 2012.
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Web browser with mouse over

The web browser on Android has always been excellent and the Ice Cream Sandwich version is no exception. Its interface has been revamped to better fit the new ICS layout and the tablet form factor.

Tabs are available at the top of the screen, so switching between them and closing unneeded ones is very easy. In the top right corner, you'll find the extended settings button, which brings out cool features like Find on page, Desktop view, Save for offline reading and several others.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview
The web browser was redesigned

One thing enabled by the S Pen that is missing in other mobile browsers is "mouse over". Some web pages have elements that work differently when you click them or when you just bring the mouse cursor over them - for example, mousing over them might open a submenu.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview
Using the hover function in the browser

One option we really liked is the Brightness/Color setting - it offers several power-saving presets. There's also the Inverted screen rendering option, which turns the web page black and white (with white backgrounds becoming black). You can further tweak this effect using the Contrast slider.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview
The Inverted rendering mode

The browser has a new trick too, one which it learned from its desktop sibling, Chrome. When searching for something, if the browser is confident you'll click on a certain search result (and with Google's algorithms there's a good chance you will), it will start preloading that page right away so that it opens faster if you do click it. You can set this to work only over Wi-Fi or turn it off completely.

Another trick the Android browser snatched from Chrome is the Incognito mode - there's no global setting, but you can open Incognito tabs.

If you don't like this desktop-like interface, you can enable Quick controls from the Labs settings, which reveal many controls (Tabs, URL, Reload, History, etc.) when you slide your finger in from the side.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview
The Quick controls

Now, for the Flash performance - the Galaxy Note 10.1 does great at 1080p YouTube videos right in the browser. Flash games run well too.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Preview
1080p Flash videos are now possible playing a Flash game

By the way, if you find Flash content to slow down your page load times or cause stutter when panning, you can switch it to on-demand in the settings menu (or even turn it off altogether).

First impressions

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and especially its S Pen went a long way in impressing us. It seems perfectly suited for artists but other professionals too can try the Note 10.1 as a replacement of a computer and dedicated pen tablet .

People who need to take a lot of notes or sketch ideas will also appreciate just how convenient the S Pen system is. But what about the rest of the user base?

Well, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is certainly better than the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 (mostly in terms of performance), but not by much. As neither tablet is on the market yet, we can't say whether the price difference is justified for regular users or not.

We also need to test a lot of other aspects of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 before passing final judgment.

Still, the tablet's target audience might seem a little limited at first, but considering its 5.3" counterpart is enjoying a lot of popularity, the Galaxy Note 10.1 seems to be looking at a bright future.

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