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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Review: Wi-Fi Vs. LTE

Today's review of Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) includes the LTE-capable and Wi-Fi-only tablets, allowing us to compare Samsung's own Exynos 5 Octa platform to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800. Can either configuration usurp Apple's iPad Air?

Camera, Display, And Speakers

While we don't like to use tablets to take pictures or record video, there are folks out there who don't seem to mind the awkwardness of holding a big device up in front of them. Thankfully, those who do can rest assured knowing that the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014's camera is decent. While it isn't going to rival a DSLR, point-and-shoot or, probably even the camera on your current smartphone, it produces stills and video that most people would find satisfactory.

With 8 MP still-image and 1080p video capabilities, the camera on the Note 10.1 2014 doesn't bring any new technology to the table. Colors on stills is fairly accurate, noise is tolerable, and sharpness is OK. For 1080p video, motion blur is surprisingly low, and sound is recorded at a quality slightly below that of flagship smartphones.

Overall, if you absolutely insist on using the camera on the Note 10.1 2014, it does a fine job. However, as mentioned, you're going to get better results using a smartphone or purpose-built camera.

While Samsung does have a love affair with AMOLED displays, the company certainly makes it clear that it isn't averse to using other display technologies. This is the case with the Note 10.1 2014, which comes equipped with a TFT LCD panel. The million-dollar question for many people is whether it has a PenTile screen. The short answer is yes; but it isn't the PenTile you might be used to.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 is equipped with a RGBW display. In the past, older AMOLED displays had the RGBG arrangement, meaning that there were two subpixels for every pixel, rather than the three in RGB. With the Note 10.1 2014's LCD, the RGBW display also sports only two subpixels for every pixel. But this time, it introduces a white subpixel every other pixel instead of having two greens per pixel. The goal is to increase luminosity.

This isn't the first time we've seen a PenTile RGBW display, which was on the Motorola Atrix 4G. While we weren't fans of the PenTile arrangement then—and, in some ways, still not this time around—the brute force of almost 300 PPI makes the odd aliasing on past AMOLED screens (especially around greens) almost unnoticeable.

I would have preferred a regular RGB LCD IPS display, but the Note 10.1 2014's screen provides a respectable experience for watching movies, looking at pictures, and browsing the Web. It features rich colors, wide viewing angles, good brightness, and surprisingly dark blacks for a TFT LCD display. Just load up a 1440p video on the 2560x1600 screen and it becomes easy to overlook the screen's faults.

We're extremely happy to see the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 equipped with dual stereo speakers, which is something we haven't seen on Samsung smartphones yet. However, while competitors are now touting this as a big-ticket feature, Samsung pioneered front-facing stereo speakers on tablets. But unlike previous Galaxy tablets, the Note 10.1 2014's speakers are side-firing, rather than the more optimal front-firing kind. With that said, we're still pleased with the output quality. The speakers are smartly placed to avoid getting covered as you hold on to the tablet.

  • blackmagnum
    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.
    Reply
  • Farrwalker
    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.
    Reply
  • blueer03
    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.
    Reply
  • Kevin Harrelson
    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.
    Reply
  • adamovera
    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.
    Reply
  • adamovera
    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.
    Reply
  • Tomtompiper
    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!
    Reply
  • adamovera
    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.
    Reply
  • Blazer1985
    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.
    Reply
  • vaughn2k
    ... and Samsung prices are now on par with Apple's. others are okay. Will wait for Asus and other competition. Should be cheaper though...
    Reply