Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition review roundup: Is this a 10.1 inch Android tablet worth buying?

At Samsung’s press conference in Berlin last month, the company announced three products. The Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and the awkwardly named Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. As the name suggests, it’s a 10.1 inch tablet that features a stylus. The back of it has the same fake leather pattern found in the Note 3, and it even has the same internals (Exynos + 3 GB), so has Samsung finally figured out how to make a large Android tablet worth buying?

The Verge

Let’s start with Dann Berg’s review. He gives the phone a 6.4 out of 10, saying it’s far too expensive, it performs quite terribly, and that last year’s Nexus 10 is actually a better product. He does like the stylus support, but feels that it’s a bit of a stretch to ask people to buy this device based solely on that one feature.

Engadget

Brad Molen’s review echos Dann’s repeated issues with performance. Brad specifically uses the word “sluggish” to describe his experience of using the Note 10.1 2014 Edition, and is shocked that’s the case because it’s got so much horsepower under the hood. And again, like Dann, Brad thinks if you need a big Android tablet, you’re better off buying the Nexus 10.

Android Central

Surely a website dedicated to Android will like this thing, right? Jerry Hildenbrand does indeed have many nice things to say about Samsung’s new Note. He calls it a “worthy upgrade from the original” and a “no-brainer” purchase if you want a big powerful rectangle running Google’s mobile OS.

Does he have any complaints? Sure, like Dann and Brad, Jerry admits there are “tiny issues like animations that seem to flutter on occasion”, which is just fancy way of saying lag. He also says Air Command, that thing that pops up when you pull out the stylus, can sometimes take more than one second to appear.

But really, at the end of the day, he likes it.

Android Police

Is Jerry an anomaly? What does a more geekier Android website think? Cameron Summerson says reviewing the Note 10.1 2014 “has been a different experience”, citing that while he recognizes “laggy Air Command, the basically unusable gallery, and the choppy transitions” are issues, he also understands that stylus is a big deal.

But let’s cut the crap and get to the point, buy or no buy?

“Ultimately, I know people will buy – and love – the Note 10.1 2014 Edition. With that said, I’m having a hard time giving it an overall recommendation. It’s a good tablet, though not great. I just can’t in good conscience recommend a $600 device with lag and stutter out of the box and with such poor build materials.

AnandTech

Which brings me to Brian’s review. Brian and I regularly interact on Twitter, and he’s admitted on numerous occasions that he’s not a tablet person. He’ll get one in for review, and regardless of the operating system, he just can’t fit a tablet into his workflow. I’m pretty much the same way, preferring to own a large phone and a laptop instead of a phone, tablet, and a laptop.

With that context, here are his thoughts:

“At the end of the day, the new Note’s pricing paints it into a niche just like the rest of the big Note lineup. If you love the S Pen experience and want it on some of the best 10-inch tablet hardware available, the new Note 10.1 is perfect. It’s arguably the best 10-inch tablet Samsung has ever built, but it’s also priced as such. If you’re not married to the S Pen, there are definitely cheaper options out there.”

Wow, isn’t that a bit surprising? He actually says if you can afford this thing, and really, really, really want a stylus, then go ahead, buy it. I’m actually having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

Conclusion

I think Android is awesome. It’s powerful, it’s configurable, and it’s the best way to experience Google’s mobile services while on the go. But there’s a slight caveat to that statement. As cool as Android phones are, I think Android tablets are dumb. Good Android tablets cost a decent amount of money, money that could get you an iPad from Apple.

But Stefan, how dare you recommend an Apple product? If it does the job better, then why wouldn’t I? Go ahead and hurl tomatoes at me, but I fully believe we can live in a world where multiple ecosystems can be used. In fact, that’s what I saw a lot of when visiting Asia earlier this year. The iPhone owners had Android tablets to watch movies on, and the Android owners had iPads to get things done.

What’s the best combination, Android phone and Android tablet? Android phone and an iPad? iPhone and an iPad? iPhone and an Android tablet? There is no right answer, and that’s actually a good thing, believe it or not.