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Samsung's new Galaxy Note 10.1 is a high-res tablet that syncs with the Gear smartwatch

Samsung's new Galaxy Note 10.1 is a high-res tablet that syncs with the Gear smartwatch

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Gallery Photo: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition hands-on photos
Gallery Photo: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition hands-on photos

While last year's Galaxy Note 10.1 featured a 1280 x 800 display, Samsung is opting for a high-resolution screen this time around. At IFA today the company is announcing what it calls the 2014 edition of the Galaxy 10.1-inch, complete with a 2560 x 1600 display. The screen is identical to Samsung's own Nexus 10, providing a high-density alongside Android 4.3, all of Samsung's software customizations, and its S-Pen stylus.

The Nexus 10 may have improved upon the display of last year's Note 10.1, but the latest 2014 edition goes a step further with its hardware specifications. The new Note 10.1 will use Samsung's own 8-core Octa chip running at 1.9GHz with 3GB of RAM on board. While taking pictures on 10-inch tablets is questionable, Samsung has opted to include an 8-megapixel camera at the rear and a 2-megapixel one at the front. With 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB options available, and microSD support, there's plenty of room for those that want more storage.

It looks a lot like a bigger Note 3

Samsung is taking some design cues from the Galaxy Note 3 with its latest tablet, matching the devices closely in terms of software and aesthetics. The Korean smartphone manufacturer is notorious for its plastic devices that attempt to look metallic, and on the Note 10.1 the rear of the device includes a leather look with stitching. It looks the part until you touch it and realize it's not leather at all. In terms of software, Samsung is shipping the Note 10.1 with Android 4.3, complete with support for the all important low-energy Bluetooth 4.0. Samsung is making use of this support to pair the new Note 10.1 with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, allowing you to control music on the device from your wrist and more.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition hands-on photos


Some useful and gimmicky multitasking improvements

The main software improvements come from better S Pen and S Note support. Like the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung's latest Note 10.1 software includes support for a Multi Window mode that lets you run separate instances of the same app and drag and drop content between each app. During my brief testing I was able to drag a photo from one app into the mail client, a useful addition for multitasking. Like last year's Note 10.1, you have the option to activate a Pen Window feature that lets you draw a window anywhere on the screen to launch apps that hover over apps in the background. It's very similar to the traditional desktop windowing in Windows or OS X, but it's restricted to a small number of apps now as Samsung is working with third-parties and its own software to fully support the feature.

When we reviewed last year's Galaxy Note 10.1, we weren't impressed with the performance of the TouchWiz UI and multitasking. The specifications on the latest Note 10.1, alongside obvious software improvements, have certainly helped this time around. However, during my limited testing I did notice that the animations weren't as smooth as those on the Note 3 running the same tasks. This could be down to the high-res display, but it's certainly something we'll be looking at closely once this tablet debuts later this year.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition will ship in three models: Wi-Fi only, Wi-Fi and 3G, and Wi-Fi and LTE. Samsung says it will be available in black and white in Q3, but the company isn't providing an exact release date or pricing just yet.