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Tablets

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro: 12.2-inch Android slate for the office

Published on Apr 15, 2014 5:14 AM
 
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro

With Android 7-inch tablets going for less than $350, it may seem crazy to pay more than $1,000 for any tablet, even one with a 12.2-inch screen.

But to call the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro just another Android tablet would be to dismiss the new features that the South Korean tech giant has developed for this huge display.

In fact, Samsung seems bent on showing companies that the Note Pro is more of a Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 tablet replacement, than just a mere alternative.

If you consider the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone with its multitasking features more than just a big cousin to the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Note Pro is more than just an oversized Note 10.1 tablet.

For those who use Windows 8 tablets such as Microsoft's Surface for surfing, e-mail, watching videos and editing photos, the Note Pro offers all of those features.

That it runs on Android means that the Note Pro offers features lacking in most Windows 8 devices, such as a SIM card slot, as well as hundreds of productivity apps available from the Google Play Store.

Imagine having the device on hand at a meeting or conference and being able to send WhatsApp or SMS messages, on top of e-mail and Facebook chat messages, without needing to whip out your phone.

The Note Pro has the same S Pen stylus as the Note 3 for handwritten notes, as well as the same Air Command feature, which lets you use the stylus for screen grabs, saving webpages and even for opening a new window as an overlay in addition to a separate open application.

The Air Command short cut goes live as soon as you extract the stylus, so there is no need to navigate to a suitable stylus-friendly app.

Instead of typing a reply to a memo, you can simply circle and highlight portions of a document to be changed, for example, and send it back immediately.

Microsoft fans may argue that a full Windows 8 tablet is more powerful than any Android device and has more sophisticated functions, such as video-editing software, but when touchscreen interfaces and simple productivity are streamlining the work-life environment, a bloated device with a powerful operating system may not always be necessary.

Samsung has gone beyond the two-window display on the Note 3 and enabled a four-window feature, enough even for the compulsive multitasker who needs multiple apps (browser, e-mail client, presentation editor and music player) open simultaneously.

Without a mouse, multitasking on any tablet is not easy, so the four-window feature allows you to switch seamlessly between apps.

However, some apps do have rather thick borders and cramming four windows into one screen means that some borders will eat into the screen's real estate. Also, not all Android apps are optimised for a four-way display.

As this is Samsung's first Android hardware offering for the office environment, there are some missing components.

Android is more cloud-based in terms of storage, so there is no USB slot to plug into an external hard drive.

To connect the Note Pro to a LAN or HDMI cable, you will need to buy separate adaptors. And as both need USB ports and the device has only one USB 3.0 port, you get to use either one or the other.

As this is the first of its kind, it does not have many accessories. Bluetooth connectivity means you can link the tablet to a wide range of wireless keyboards, but there is nothing on the market designed for the Pro, so be prepared to lug third-party keyboards.

One would have expected Samsung to at least come up with a cover which doubles as a keyboard, such as the one Surface has.

Outside of the office, though, the Note Pro is comfortable as a tablet for casual use, despite its heft.

At 753g (LTE) and 750g (Wi-Fi), the Note Pro is not meant for single-handed use.

But the large display makes it perfect for reading comic books or magazines. Text across the 247 pixel per inch screen is sharp and images are displayed beautifully.

You will truly appreciate using it when you no longer have to pinch and zoom a page just to read a balloon window or paragraph. This is how digital magazines are meant to be read.

There is a change in the widget layout of the Note Pro, which follows the multi-tile layout of Windows 8.

You can select the number and type of widgets to put on a single screen - from news headlines and Twitter feeds to e-mail and calendar events. You then select the size of the layout to give it a more magazine-style look.

For example, you can have headlines from newsfeeds appear in a bigger window than the one displaying your e-mail messages or make your calendar more prominent.

It is a subtle design aesthetic, but one which takes advantage of the big screen to give you a clearer view of what is important for the day.

  • You can easily get a better-performing laptop at this price, but a laptop will not have plenty of the features which you will find on the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro.


sherwinl@sph.com.sg

This story was originally published in Digital Life on March 12, 2014. 

Background story

TECH SPECS

Price: $1,098 (Wi-Fi), $1,198 (LTE)
Processor: 1.9GHz A15 Quad Core + 1.3GHz A7 Quad Core (Wi-Fi); 2.3GHz Quad Core (LTE)
Display: 12.2-inch 16M colours WQXGA (1,600 x 2,560)
Operating system:
Android 4.2.2 KitKat
Camera: 8 megapixels (rear), 2 megapixels (front)
Memory: 32GB (expandable up to 64GB), 3GB RAM
Battery: 9,500mAh

RATING

Features 4/5
Design 3/5
Performance 4/5
Value for money 2/5
Battery life 4/5

Overall 4/5