After churning out tablets of many types and sizes, Samsung has come up with one that is close to perfection.
Its Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is not just its best tablet offering, it is also the best Android tablet in the market. And the credit goes to its multitasking ability.
Its Android cousins might boast the ability to work on multiple apps and perform like a PC, but the new Note 10.1 really delivers.
As with other Galaxy Note phones, this device offers apps that are optimised for multi-window use. The list is available as a slide-out menu from the edge of the device.
You can choose to open a browser and Google Maps, or Gallery and the note-taking app S Note, to work on both apps at the same time.
This creates a split-screen view which allows you to flow easily from one screen to the other.
The ability to open two My Files app on one screen straightaway makes it easier to move files, documents and photos between folders or from the internal hard drive to the external memory card.
Such features might seem basic, but being able to do them with ease on a tablet is not something that any tablet user can take for granted.
Just ask anyone who uses an iPad.
The large screen provides more space for widgets. Unlike those on iOS devices, Android users have long had the freedom to customise their screens with widgets as on-screen short cuts to additional features.
So, news junkies can access stock trading information from Yahoo Finance, scan The New York Times headlines and view their Flipboard feeds on just one screen.
The next screen can be filled with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social network updates, while a third screen offers the calendar and incoming e-mail headers.
All these functions are made even simpler by the S Pen stylus. It is not just for scribbling and doodling. Pull it out from the top right edge and it triggers the Air Command pop-up menu to bring up five short cuts.
The first, Action Memo, is a note-taking app that is context-sensitive. If you scribble a number on the screen, it will offer you the option to call the number or store it in Contacts. List an address and a short cut will bring up the location on Google Maps.
In other words, you need not copy and paste the same information across different apps.
Scrap booker is like the often-used copy and paste PC function. You just circle portions of webpages or YouTube links to save them for future reference.
Speed can become a problem when you run multiple apps. But the souped-up processor on the LTE version here makes everything run seamlessly and effortlessly.
Do note that this review is based on the quad-core LTE version. The Wi-Fi version uses Samsung's octa-core processor and this device marks its local debut.
On the Quadrant Standard benchmark, the tablet scored 20,855, which is on a par with quad-core devices of this range.
Battery life is good. It lasted more than nine hours on video playback at full screen brightness.
Samsung has also thrown in several free apps, such as the SketchBook For Galaxy drawing app. There is also an IR blaster for those who want to use their tablet as a universal remote that works with their existing home theatre set-up.
But while the tablet wins in the features department, Samsung still has plenty to learn in the looks department.
The new streamlined design makes the tablet slimmer and more compact than the previous generation Note 10.1 tablet. However, its 243.1 x 171.4 x 7.9mm dimensions and leather-textured back make this device less stylish than Sony's Xperia Tablet Z, and it is definitely no match for the new Apple iPad Air.
In terms of the design, I like the return of the physical home button, flanked by the Menu and Back touchscreen buttons on the bottom of the screen.
But when you hold the device horizontally in your left hand, it is easy to brush against the Back button accidentally because it sits exactly where your hand grips the tablet.
Instead of front speakers, the 2014 version has them on the left and right edges instead.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition delivers on performance and power alongside improved features. All it needs now is a design to match.
Price: $998 (LTE), $798 (Wi-Fi)
Processor: 2.3GHz quad-core (LTE, version tested), 1.9GHz A15 quad-core + 1.3GHz A7 quad-core processor (Wi-Fi)
Display: 10.1-inch WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600 pixels) Super Clear LCD
Operating system: Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
Memory: 32GB, microSD (Up to 64GB)
Cameras: 8 megapixels (rear), 2 megapixels (front)
Battery: Li-ion 8,220mAh
Value for money: 4
Battery life: 4
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