Pros Pros: WACOM STYLUS!! (fantastic)
Flash (advantage over iPad, *Firefox)
Photoshop Pro preloaded (very powerful application)
Durable.... plastic doesn't dent.
Camera UI. lots of settings, camera is mediocre but who cares, its a tablet.
Cons Cons: Build quality....
Bloatware (some useless touchwiz stuff too)
Some lag....I guess
Lower resolution screen than some competitors
Summary I have had numerous tablets in the past including several iPads, a Galaxy Tab 10.1, Kobo Vox (if that counts), and now a Galaxy Note 10.1. A feel as though a lot of reviews are criticising it for the wrong reasons. this review on this site has been by far the most genuine I have read.
Screen: Since when is a 1280 x 800 display low res?? (my 32" TV hung in my room is only 1280 x720). I realize that the iPad and the Transformer out do it but does that mean they should? I think Samsung opted for this resolution to keep battery life stable and to put less strain on the processor. I have no complaints about the screen what so ever, colors are nicely saturated.... 30% brightness indoors is more than adequate, blacks are deep, and unless you are squinted 4 inches from the display.... you cannot distinguish individual pixels. The screen is quite simply beautiful and a huge improvement over the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Wacom stylus: Ahhhhhh, the stylus... paired with Samsungs new approach to multitasking. The stylus is perfect.... I use Papyrus for note keeping and it is just heaven, no other device competes in the stylus department, period. The multitasking however is obviously a 1.0 version. It works as intended but lack of optimization makes it frustrating to switch between windows continuously. The way I look at it though is this.... you do not have to use it. It is an additional feature. If you don't like it, don't use it. Even without multitasking, it is one of the best tablets on the market (performance wise at least)
Sound: Speakers are f&%^$ loud and clear. Front facing stereo sound is fantastic when watching netflix in bed. On iPad and GTab 10.1 I found I was always covering the speakers accidentally. To solve the problem I would have to hold the tablets in an uncomfortable fashion. Kudos Samsung for recognising this.
Build Quality: This is where it takes a turn for the worse. The front is gorilla glass with a sturdy plastic chrome looking edge. No problems so far. The speakers grills seem to be aluminum micro drilled.. great...... Flip the device over however and you get a plastic back panel that will scratch if you lay it anywhere and flexes and creaks upon the slightest touch. I wish Samsung would have made the backing a half a mm thicker to improve stiffness and fired on some hyperglaze. This would have vastly improved the quality of the device.
Speed: There is the slightest amount of lag occassionally when I have several applications open in the background. I have done simple comparisons to GTab 10.1 and an Asus Transformer (not prime) and I have to say it blows them out of the water. performance is fantastic. 2 GB of ram keeps multitasking running smoothly. I have actually had 11 application on the screen at once and it still worked fine (it did lag but C'mon 11 applications!!), these were multiscreen browser and Photoshop, pop up video, and 7 floating app from the samsung specific drawer located on the task bar.
Advantages over competitors:
If you are a Student or someone who attends a lot of meetings with a laptop. this is a sound investment. I work as an engineer for the government, being able to visit a job site with AutoCAD on my note and Papyrus open for notes is incredible. I snicker just a little when I see someone with a 5' x 8' floorplan trying to make edits and scribbling notes on a piece of cardboard.
This just makes everything 1 million times easier and I immediately have a digital copy.... which is a requirement these days.
Quad Core processing speed without sacrificing battery. I mentioned earlier that I usually keep brightness around 30% which is more than enough. So battery life is also incredible. I am not sure why it is so much better than the GTab 10.1 but it is. My best performance to date has been 49 hours and 13 minutes. Wifi one the entire time, and the screen timed as being on for 8 hours and 37 minutes during that same time frame. I think it passes the battery test.
IR Blaster: I havent mentioned this yet, but it has an IR blsater that you can use to control most TV's DVD players etc.... I wouldn't use it for more than off/on functions though because the app that controls it is very confusing and counterintuitive.
TouchWiz: A lot of people are going to hate me for this one. I really adore touchwiz, I understand it adds a lot of bulk and strain on the device, but I simply like the UI. (this is also a disadvantage because of the burden it puts on RAM usage and processor). A lot of people hate Manufacturers customs skins but I think its depicts the entire advantage of the open source Android platform. Without it, every device would be the same and differentiate only by means of build and quality (which samsung would lose miserably). Take my opinion with a grain of salt, but without the option to customize the way it does, the platform would not exist as the powerhouse it is today.
Durability: It seems like a hypocritical statement to say the build quality is poor but the durability is high but that is how it sums up. Since the device is all plastic and flexes a fair bit, it absorbs impact a little better. The larger than average Bezel paired with the plastic chrome styled edge also helps keep that fragile face sa far from the ground as possible. (unless it lands face down :( )
Disadvantages over competition:
Screen: This hardly means anything to me but I am obligated to place the screen resolution as a disadvantage simply because in a world where more is better, the higher screen resolution of the iPad and Transformer will be viewed by consumers as an advantage.
Build Quality: The only tablet I can think of that feels worse is the Acer Iconia (maybe the Toshiba Excite..) So almost any other tablet on the market has a build quality advantage. With the iPad still being the pinnacle of build quality (*not durability)
Price: Due to all these additional features, some gimicky some useful, the price is placed at a premium. *499 for the 32 GB model here in Canada. Which is slightly higher than competing models. However, the Note is the only one with a pressure sensitive stylus. So for the niche crowd looking for just that, the price is just.
Overall, I think Samsung has made a device for a specific demograph and that demograph will expand over time. The potential for this to be the ultimate student tool is incredible. (The cost of the tablet + the cost of 5 common textbooks in digital format is still less than just the hard copies of the texts) You could have ll your notes and texts in one device...... or you could buy two if you want to separate them :p)
I predict that Samsung will recognize the faults in this tablet based on consumer response, and improve it. I would like to see a smaller bezel and a slightly larger screen in the same form factor. A massive improvement in build quality. They are giving plastic a bad name when it can be a fanatastic material to build anything with.... look at Nokia!, and finally, an improved TouchWiz that puts less of a burden on the device.
I hope this helped anyone who was decided to buy or not to buy the Note 10.1. Overall I a completely satisfied with it and wouldnt trade it for any tablet currently on the market.
P.S. The Samsung bookcover case for it is the best case I have ever used.... it eliminates any obvious build quality faults.