2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review: draw and multitask
by Tablets for Artists
There’s a parsec of products in the Samsung Galaxy line. This review will focus on the 2014 Galaxy Note 10, which comes with a built-in S pen stylus. The 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1 features a 10.1″ screen.
2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. See it on Amazon.
Note: The Galaxy Note is different than the Galaxy Tab. The regular Galaxy Tab does not have pressure sensitivity and does not come with a pen. If you want to use a stylus to use with a Galaxy Tab, you have to buy one separately, and it will be more like a iPad stylus.
As of 2013, Samsung has bought 5% of Wacom, so expect a continuing partnership. (Wacom tech is also found in other companies’ tablets.)
Type of Tablet
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is an Android tablet running Android 4.3, Jelly Bean.
It’s fine for left-handers. (The Galaxy Note Edge is another story, as it has a curved screen on one side).
S Pen with eraser and Wacom integration
Wacom digitizer gives you 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
WQXGA (2560 x 1600)
10.1-Inch high-res TFT display
9.57 x 6.75 x 0.31 inches
3 GB RAM
8MP rear camera, 2MP front
(1080p video recording), LED flash
MicroSD card slot can hold card of up to 64GB
Octacore Exynos processor (eight processors, but they are not all used at once; it’s two four-core processors)
Samsung’s AllShare, which can put what’s on your tablet on a Samsung TV
Dolby Surround Sound speakers
This 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review is of the Wi-fi model only, but you can get the Galaxy Note 10.1 with 4G from a variety of carriers.
The multi-window function is a great boon to multitaskers. It lets you have two windows open into which you can drag and drop certain apps. You can also take a screenshot and write or draw on it.
Using a 10″ tablet gives you twice as much screen as a 7″ tablet, so there’s enough space to multitask. The tablet comes with quite a bit of free content. We like the two free years of 50GB Dropbox.
At one and a quarter pounds, that’s not much weight considering how much productivity you can get with it.
The tablet, S Pen, USB charging cable, travel adapter, quickstart guide.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 screen is high-resolution, with over 4 million pixels, which is double that of HDTV, according to Samsung. The 299ppi is dense, denser than the iPad Air Retina, which boasts 264ppi. The Note’s resolution is really as high as the eye can perceive high resolution. The screen is so bright that it gets good visibility outdoors. So, the display is awesome.
The S pen conveniently fits into the side top.
Wacom’s FEEL technology has been integrated into many aspects of the Note. When you use Air Command with the S Pen, a small round window pops up, giving you five functions. With Air Command you can convert handwriting to text you can then format, also make a call, add contacts (such as jotting down a phone number with the pen and converting it), use maps, search, or add to your to-do list.
A nifty feature called Pen Window lets you draw a square which becomes a small multitasking window where you can then open YouTube, the browser or other apps while remaining in your screen. Multitasking is the name of the game; you can drag and drop content and have multiple windows open. This is a major benefit over the one-thing-at-a-time iPad.
There’s also a side window that slides out from the left that serves up maps, YouTube, Evernote, and other apps. Handwriting works smoothly on the Note, even if you’ve got little tiny handwriting.
As art apps get more sophisticated, artists can do a lot without using full Photoshop, including using layers, creating high-resolution files, and exporting files as JPGs. There are many Android drawing and painting apps.
The Galaxy Note could be a go-to tablet for sketching, general productivity, and for some artists it’s enough for finished art for print. Drawing on it is a pleasure. Though some users reported lag, we did not experience any.
Alternatives to the S Pen
Nice as the S-pen is, face it, it’s thin. Though fine for note-taking, doodling, and sketching, it can cramp your hand when drawing for hours on end. And you might prefer the stroke quality of other pens; if you can, try a few and draw holding the pen at different angles.
If you prefer a writing implement that’s a little more solid, there are some alternatives. One is the Wacom Bamboo Stylus Feel for Samsung Galaxy Note. It lacks an eraser, so you’d have to use the eraser in your art app.
Or there’s the the Galaxy Note Genuine Wacom Touch Pen 8pi Stylus. This sports an eraser on the non-writing end.
Since it’s a regular Wacom digitizer, you could use any pen for Wacom-penabled PCs, such as this one, a full-size pen that’s comfortable to write with. This one will not fit into the S Pen slot.
One article suggested calibration may be off with non-S pens. I did not find this to be true in testing it.
Since the nifty multi-window lets you do two completely different things at once, you could draw and do image research at the same time.
Besides being your portable art studio, you can use the tablet as an e-reader as well as a universal remote control and TV guide.
The buttons are on the side, so they don’t change depending how you’re holding the tablet, portrait or landscape. You have to be a little careful to not push them by accident.
Android apps are available on the Google Play store. Most cost a few dollars, with many free ones. Apps such as Sketchbook Pro and Layer Paint HD will let you open large files, even 10,000 x 10,000 pixels. The number of layers you can create varies with canvas size. Try GIMP for Android; this free, open source alternative to Photoshop is now in Google Play.
Long; up to 9 hours, even 10 if you’re not doing power-intensive stuff like gaming. With gaming, the tablet works fine and can go about 4 hours.
Customer Ratings and Reviews
Almost every 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review is positive. The Note is a popular item among both artists and nonartists. The handwriting capabilities receive praise. Most lag issues have been fixed by updates, according to reviewers–some of the first ones out were sluggish. One 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review calls it “smoking fast,” another “a beast.” At this fairly high price, consumers should demand excellent performance.
In Developer Settings, turning the animation scales off or to the lowest setting should speed up performance even more.
Excellent battery life
High-resolution, bright screen
Good handwriting recognition; will convert handwriting to text
Can be used with a Bluetooth keyboard or even an external monitor
Some experience lag with TouchWiz, or don’t like TouchWiz. There’s no easy way to disable it.
All plastic with the back being faux leather with “stitching.” Depending how you look at it, that’s refreshingly creative or slightly tacky. I kind of like it, myself.
As with any device, some people’s failed, but there is not a high rate of complaints.
Should you get this or an iPad Pro?
Update: (When this article was first written, it was before the iPad Pro). The Galaxy Note is a better choice for artists than a regular iPad, it’s more of a competitor to an iPad Pro. The main advantages of the Galaxy Note over iPad Pro are that the S Pen is included, and the memory is expandable. There is no pen battery to worry about with the Note. It also would not be too expensive to get a new pen if yours gets lost.
However, at this point, I’d recommend the iPad Pro because it’s newer and more up to date. If you’re more of an Android fan, the Note is still viable, but it’s aging. A new Note may be in the pipeline.
With a regular iPad you can now get pressure sensitivity via Bluetooth in certain apps, but you are limited to a fairly small lineup of apps; some iPad styluses for art are more accurate than others.
This is a premium tablet that makes a powerful little sketchbook or portable art studio. It does not replace a Wacom Cintiq or full tablet PC. The pens do not have the tilt sensitivity like the more costly professional art tablets such as the Cintiq or Intuos.
Now that you’ve read this Galaxy Note 10.1 review, it’s time to check out some artmaking!
End of 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review