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TouchWiz: Samsung's Take On Android

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Review: Wi-Fi Vs. LTE
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While many people may not know (or even care) what version of Android their device has, or even know what TouchWiz is, what's important to Samsung is that the experience is familiar to someone who is already accustomed to previously using a Galaxy-branded device.

From the S Pen capabilities to the TouchWiz overlay, if you took the pure Google Nexus 10 and sought to make it more familiar to the millions of Galaxy Note owners, you'd get the Note 10.1 (2014).

While many people oppose the idea of TouchWiz and other third-party Android overlays, we can't blame Samsung for doing it, and we're even surprised it took the company this long to make an upgraded and branded variant of the Nexus 10.

Buttons

With the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014, Samsung builds upon its strategy of unifying the "Samsung Experience" found on the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 smartphones. This means forgoing the on-screen buttons, established by Android 3.0 Honeycomb, in favor of the capacitive Menu, hardware Home, and capacitive Back buttons we know today.

We can't overstate how damaging Menu buttons are to Google's user experience since Android 4.0 (and arguably even earlier in Android 3.x). The hidden menu is not in the novice user's best interest. While it might have seemed natural in the Eclair, FroYo, and Gingerbread eras, it creates an unnecessarily steep learning curve for new users, since it hides contextual options that should otherwise be self-evident.

The Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro lines, as well as the Galaxy S5, show that Samsung is finally getting the message. The company replaces the capacitive Menu button with an App Switching button, which is a huge relief given the multitude of functions previously assigned to the Home button. Unfortunately, even though the company is now using the same buttons as the stock operating system, the order is reversed, so a learning curve is still present for those coming from most other Android-based products.

As for the physical actuation of the buttons, the Home button is just the right firmness and "clickiness" for our liking. The power button and volume rocker are situated at the top of the device when you're holding it in landscape mode, so taking the Home button placement into consideration, it's obvious that Samsung was hinting that this is the intended orientation for the Note 10.1 2014.

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  • -3 Hide
    blackmagnum , July 8, 2014 1:05 AM
    The only possible way Samsung mobile devices can be a worthwhile alternative to Apple is when they ditch the every-man Android and create their own tightly controlled/ managed OS like Apple. Do that and consumers might not feel like they're just buying the Samsung for the hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    Farrwalker , July 8, 2014 8:33 AM
    On page 7. Results: CPU Core Benchmarks:
    Your bar graph "MobileXPRT 2013" seems to be in error.
    For example, the text says, "Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi leads with 300 points . . ."
    but the bar is the shortest and indicates less than 150 points.
  • 0 Hide
    blueer03 , July 8, 2014 9:30 AM
    You need to proofread this big time. From page 9:
    Samsung's Exynos-based Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi holds its own against the Tegra Note 7, while the LTE version of the Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) again falls significantly behind its Snapdragon 800-powered Wi-Fi counterpart.

    And this happens all throughout. The LTE is a Snapdragon, the Wifi is an Exynos. Keep repeating that to yourself as you re-write the descriptions and it will make this easier to read.
  • 1 Hide
    Kevin Harrelson , July 8, 2014 9:54 AM
    We got one of these for my son (age 13) to help with his school work. We got it from Best Buy and got the extended warranty. Both sound dumb, but it was actually a good move! The backlight has gone out on this thing TWICE. I happen to think that it is a lovely little tablet, but the backlight is a major reliability issue.
  • 1 Hide
    adamovera , July 8, 2014 10:48 AM
    Quote:
    On page 7. Results: CPU Core Benchmarks:
    Your bar graph "MobileXPRT 2013" seems to be in error. For example, the text says, "Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi leads with 300 points . . ." but the bar is the shortest and indicates less than 150 points.

    This benchmark's sub-tests produce scores in seconds (lower is better), and the overall score is given as a typical higher-is-better score, so the lowest bar indicates the fastest completion. Sorry about the confusion, I'll look into other ways to represent this test.
  • 2 Hide
    adamovera , July 8, 2014 10:51 AM
    Quote:
    You need to proofread this big time. From page 9:
    Samsung's Exynos-based Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi holds its own against the Tegra Note 7, while the LTE version of the Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) again falls significantly behind its Snapdragon 800-powered Wi-Fi counterpart.
    And this happens all throughout. The LTE is a Snapdragon, the Wifi is an Exynos. Keep repeating that to yourself as you re-write the descriptions and it will make this easier to read.

    Good catch, thanks! Fixed.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomtompiper , July 8, 2014 1:30 PM
    The 2014 is almost 5 months old and has been superseded by the Amoled screened Galaxy Tab S 10.1 which wipes the floor with the opposition. http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_tab_s_105-review-1097.php Do try to keep up!
  • 3 Hide
    adamovera , July 8, 2014 2:06 PM
    Quote:
    The 2014 is almost 5 months old and has been superseded by the Amoled screened Galaxy Tab S 10.1 which wipes the floor with the opposition. http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_tab_s_105-review-1097.php Do try to keep up!

    Actually, you'd think this has been phased out, but it's the current 10-inch Galaxy "Note" product, meaning it has the S Pen. The Galaxy "Tab" S does not - still unclear to me what makes the "S" stand out. I believe Samsung is literally attempting to offer an alternative product to every single other device in existence - complete mobile domination. I lost count of their current "Galaxy" line at 11 products, and that was awhile back.

    The duo of Note 10.1 (2014)'s came in very handy both as comparison data in other articles and as testbeds for compiling our benchmark suite. Unfortunately, the article had to be pushed back several times, but the huge hardware difference between products carrying the same name was always something we wanted to illustrate, initially for the chipset-vs-chipset angle, but later for the optimization aspect as well. We're currently working through a small backlog of mobility articles, but each will be more timely than the last. My apologies.
  • 1 Hide
    Blazer1985 , July 8, 2014 6:22 PM
    I really wish Samsung could help the end user distinguish what they are buying. The 2 Note are classified as "LTE" and "WIFI ONLY" which sounds like 2 equal devices except for the sim card slot while they actually have a totally different soc.
  • 0 Hide
    vaughn2k , July 8, 2014 9:03 PM
    ... and Samsung prices are now on par with Apple's. others are okay. Will wait for Asus and other competition. Should be cheaper though...
  • -2 Hide
    Ninjawithagun , July 9, 2014 6:53 AM
    These benchmarks are fundamentally flawed. No where is there mention that both the Nexus and Apple iPad Air use lower resolution displays, which dramatically reduces the overall load on the CPU and GPU vs. the Samsung Note devices. The benchmarks are completely useless since an "apples-to-oranges" comparison is not a valid methodology for comparing these uniquely different tablets. And why was the new Samsung Tab S used instead of the year old 2014 Edition versions? Another "fail" on behalf of the author.
  • 0 Hide
    godnodog , July 9, 2014 11:23 AM
    As a user of the Note 10.1 2012, I have to strongly disagree with the new multitasking sytem, as it is clearly a step backwards from what it used to be, now you can ONLY have 2 windows opened, as I, by not installing the update, can have 4 / 5 / 6 opened, obviously I don´t have them opened, but I frequently have 3 windows opened simultaniously, wich now I can´t have. Also it apperars that the multitask is no longer floating, agains mine that still does. I have experienced no problem whatsoever like you described "were slow, unresponsive, or just plain bad".
  • 1 Hide
    wiltjk , July 10, 2014 7:18 PM
    A key point of your review is that this is about a "pen" tablet. Not having used a physical keyboard since 2003, I am pleased to see some alternatives to the Intel/Windows dominated offerings.

    It is a good review for apples to apples on the Samsung hardware options.

    Would you suggest that this is "as-good-as-it-gets" for the few who prefer pen-based tablets? Any foresight in other pen based tablets?
  • 0 Hide
    Zarathvstra , July 11, 2014 2:23 AM
    Quote:
    These benchmarks are fundamentally flawed. No where is there mention that both the Nexus and Apple iPad Air use lower resolution displays, which dramatically reduces the overall load on the CPU vs. the Samsung Note devices. The benchmarks are completely useless since an "apples-to-oranges" comparison is not a valid methodology for comparing these uniquely different tablets. And why was the new Samsung Tab S used instead of the year old 2014 Edition versions? Another "fail" on behalf of the author.


    Ninjawithagun,
    Tablets are not modular like a pc... whilst it may have been good for the author the resolution issue with these benchmarks, an apples to apples comparison of the individual components would NOT help the user decide which unit as a whole is the fastest as indeed, they are NOT modular.
  • 0 Hide
    Ninjawithagun , July 12, 2014 8:46 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    These benchmarks are fundamentally flawed. No where is there mention that both the Nexus and Apple iPad Air use lower resolution displays, which dramatically reduces the overall load on the CPU vs. the Samsung Note devices. The benchmarks are completely useless since an "apples-to-oranges" comparison is not a valid methodology for comparing these uniquely different tablets. And why was the new Samsung Tab S used instead of the year old 2014 Edition versions? Another "fail" on behalf of the author.


    Ninjawithagun,
    Tablets are not modular like a pc... whilst it may have been good for the author the resolution issue with these benchmarks, an apples to apples comparison of the individual components would NOT help the user decide which unit as a whole is the fastest as indeed, they are NOT modular.


    Not true. Most (not all) tablets are in fact modular in that the CPU and GPU operate independently of one another. Case in point, the Apple A7 uses a dual-core 64-bit SOC processor and PowerVR G6430 graphics chip. The Samsung uses the Exynos 5 Octa processor with a Mali-T628 MP6 graphics chip. Your definition of modular is fundamentally flawed in that you think it pertains to physical ability for individual items to removed/replaced. Modular infers to the actual architecture of the system in that several different parts from different manufactures are integrated together to function as a whole unit.
  • 0 Hide
    Zarathvstra , July 12, 2014 6:04 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    These benchmarks are fundamentally flawed. No where is there mention that both the Nexus and Apple iPad Air use lower resolution displays, which dramatically reduces the overall load on the CPU vs. the Samsung Note devices. The benchmarks are completely useless since an "apples-to-oranges" comparison is not a valid methodology for comparing these uniquely different tablets. And why was the new Samsung Tab S used instead of the year old 2014 Edition versions? Another "fail" on behalf of the author.


    Ninjawithagun,
    Tablets are not modular like a pc... whilst it may have been good for the author the resolution issue with these benchmarks, an apples to apples comparison of the individual components would NOT help the user decide which unit as a whole is the fastest as indeed, they are NOT modular.


    Not true. Most (not all) tablets are in fact modular in that the CPU and GPU operate independently of one another. Case in point, the Apple A7 uses a dual-core 64-bit SOC processor and PowerVR G6430 graphics chip. The Samsung uses the Exynos 5 Octa processor with a Mali-T628 MP6 graphics chip. Your definition of modular is fundamentally flawed in that you think it pertains to physical ability for individual items to removed/replaced. Modular infers to the actual architecture of the system in that several different parts from different manufactures are integrated together to function as a whole unit.


    This does not argue to the point. Here's a fact and the crux of the matter... An apples to apples comparison of gpu's and processors does NOT tell the user how apps will perform on tablet x when constrained by their other components be it amount of ram, screen res, gpu, cpu etc.

    i.e. benchmarks are not "fundamentally flawed" (nor is my understanding and use of the term modular)
  • 1 Hide
    apertotes , July 14, 2014 4:36 AM
    I think it is deceiving to not point out on the table on first page that memory can easily be expanded with a cheap microsd card. It is not 16/32 gb, it's 16/32+128 gb.
  • 0 Hide
    szalkerous , July 16, 2014 9:21 AM
    At first I thought there was something new, and I realized this is a review for a tablet I bought last year.

    FYI, the KitKat update makes the SD card practically useless. Rooting these tablets is frustrating at best, and the KNOX system is the most terrible idea Samsung ever came up with.

    Looking back, I should have gotten a Nexus.
  • 0 Hide
    apertotes , July 16, 2014 10:06 AM
    Quote:

    FYI, the KitKat update makes the SD card practically useless.


    How can it be useless having 128 gb for music and videos/pictures? Maybe you can afford spotify and paying 15 dollars every month for an upgraded dropbox account, but many people don't, or even if they do, they do not have a reliable LTE signal 24/7.

  • 0 Hide
    SoPhat VaThana , July 17, 2014 1:29 AM
    good
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