After the disappointing first generation, for reasons varying from screen resolution to failing to launch on time, the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition comes to show that Samsung is a good learner. Four times the screen resolution and 299ppi are only part of the reason why this is the best tablet screen in the market right now. Well, the iPad mini 2 will be quick to disagree but it does come an inch or so short.
The design also took off in the right direction. Not only is the 2014 Edition Galaxy Note 10.1 far prettier than its predecessor, it's also notably smaller and lighter. The slimmer bezels and lower weight add up to a marked improvement in handling and therefore the overall user experience.
Samsung has also done well to improve what is arguably the 2014 edition Galaxy Note 10.1's most potent weapon - the S-Pen. The new features and apps make the active stylus even more useful and appealing to a much broader audience - you don't need to be a graphic designer to take full advantage of Action notes or the Scrapbooker.
Another area that has been so vastly improved to become a key selling point is multi-tasking. The upgraded Multi-view brings Android tablets another step closer to being able to properly rival netbooks. And with 3GB of RAM and a choice of two of the most potent chipsets around, you can bet the hardware can easily keep up.
So what you get with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is very close to the full deal - an impressively productive tool, a web and multimedia powerhouse. But will that be enough for Samsung to finally make the impact in premium tablets that has alluded them so far? After all, the competition hasn't been fooling around either and has quite a few interesting alternatives to offer.
The first name that springs to mind is the Sony Xperia Tablet Z. One of the best-looking slates around, the Xperia Tablet Z also has waterproofing going for it, which may as well make up for the older chipset and screen not as sharp. The Sony tablet is also cheaper without sacrificing expandable storage.
A more recent option, the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T matches the Galaxy Note's screen for size and resolution, and runs on the extremely capable Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.
Yet, the real strength of the Transformer Pad TF701T lies in the dedicated mobile dock complete with a hardware QWERTY keyboard, trackpad, extra battery, SD reader and USB ports. Once you attach the thing to your tabled, you've assembled a perfect netbook device. The only thing missing is GSM/3G/LTE connectivity but, on a positive note, it costs as much as the Note 10.1 2014 Edition, dock included.
Finally, the Apple iPad Air is the one to really fear. The latest iteration of the tablet that started it all is a lecture in hardware perfection - slimmer and lighter than the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition, it still delivers blazing fast performance and excellent battery life. At base price, the iPad Air is also a tad cheaper than the Note 10.1, but it offers no memory expansion options, so you are likely to be spending more than you would on the Galaxy tablet.
Sure, the Apple iPad Air has no direct response to the S Pen, but it has the world's richest selection of apps specially optimized for tablets and smartphone history has taught us that this is the most potent weapon of them all.
So at the end of the day, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition has enough to be one of the must-see gadgets for avid media consumers, but business-minded users too. The Transformer Pad looks capable of edging ahead in terms of productivity, but the rest of the stablemates seem to have little on it.
It seems unlikely though, even with the across-the-board upgrades over the predecessor, that the latest Galaxy Note 10.1 will upset Apple's dominance in tablets. For one, the iPads now come in pairs but it could also be down to a prevailing belief that only Apple can get away with a price tag this high.
Oh well, it's common knowledge that Android tablets are usually the value-for-money choice but one should be able to recognize and appreciate excellence. And the 2014 Edition Galaxy Note 10.1 is one of those special few.