Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 – An Android Tablet to Take Note Of?

Samsung revealed a follow up to its recently released Galaxy Note with the Galaxy Note 10.1. Big brother is packing a 1Ghz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, front and rear cameras of course, and sporting it all behind a 1024 x 800 display. Additionally, HSPA+, 3G, and WiFi are options in 16GB or 32GB offerings, expandable by microSD. The distinguishing feature of this tablet though is the S Pen, a stylus that is also utilized by the smaller Galaxy Note but not by the Galaxy Tab 2. Samsung has gone to great lengths to infuse the use of the S Pen throughout various aspects of its Android skin, TouchWiz, which is running over ICS a.k.a. Android 4.0. This is an interesting strategy considering the tablet market has been dominated by Apple’s iPad, and Android tablets have not been nearly as profitable as their smart phone siblings. Samsung is clearly trying to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Android fold with the S Pen, and on many accounts it succeeds. The S Pen performs several features intuitively on the Galaxy Note 10.1, in fact an argument might be made that using the S Pen on the Galaxy Note 10.1 leads to a better experience than the original Galaxy Note, especially when selecting smaller parts of the screen because you have more real estate to write on. Samsung has even setup a contest to draw in developers for S Pen integrated apps with prizes of over $200,000. Clearly, they are serious about placing the S Pen into developer’s hands.

However, this is not the first time we have seen a stylus used for a tablet. Remember the HTC Flyer, a 7inch foray into the tablet market by HTC released last May to lukewarm reception at best, only to be discontinued in December. It used the HTC Scribe Pen to perform note taking features and had some app integration, granted not to the same level as the Galaxy Note. Yet, despite being a good idea, a lack of support, selling the pen separate, and Sprint exclusivity, would prevent it from claiming the spot of best Android tablet on the market, or even being a good choice for that matter. If though, Samsung’s aim is to be the best and they feel the S Pen is the answer, why not also include its functionality in the Galaxy Tab 2? Coming in at 7 inches and roughly the same specs as the Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung could have provided a unified experience across three different form factors reaching the audience who prefers a 7inch tablet to a 10inch one, or doesn’t want a 5inch hybrid. Take for example, the Galaxy S line of smart phones that have sold and made millions for Samsung. They marketed this specific line of high-end devices as available for several carriers, running the same version of Android, and providing the same user experience. This created something that Samsung, and many Android OEM’s need, brand recognition for a single line of their phones. While the Galaxy S line may not be a household name still, and in part that is due to each carrier renaming their own variant, for those who want the best Samsung have to offer, they know exactly what to look and wait for. Even now, the Android phone that generates the most buzz and has everyone anxiously waiting for its reveal is the Galaxy S III. That is what Samsung needs for it to succeed in the tablet market.

Apple focuses on refining the iPad annually while keeping the experience across their IOS devices uniform and with the mixed reactions to the new iPad, Samsung has an opportunity to gain some momentum but they can only do so if they adopt the same strategy they applied to their Galaxy S phones. Provide a uniform experience, under a uniform name that will not confuse but rather attract customers, and developers will back you. No one will have to spend time figuring out the difference between the products you offer or what will and won’t work with them. The Galaxy Note line can solidify Samsung as the top Android tablet maker with the pleasant experience of the S Pen, but it will only happen if they can get customers and developers to take note of the device themselves.