final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Features No comments good
  • Display No comments great!
  • Battery life No comments great!
  • Ease of use This was one of two deciding factors, see my quick review below poor
  • Storage capacity No comments good
  • Design and form factor This was one of two deciding factors, see my quick review below awful!
  • Portability (size / weight) No comments great!
  • Durability No comments great!
Detailed review
First, I want to point out that I have the original Galaxy Note 10.1, and I loved it. I was waiting for the new version so that I had something that was faster, lighter and had the latest OS changes - especially those supporting the S-Pen, which is why someone gets a tablet like this in the first place.

I ordered the 10.1 (2014) the other week - it arrived, and I set it up. Was it faster? Yes. Was the screen gorgeous beyond words? Yes. Were the improvements to the pen support worth it? Yes. Am I returning it? Yes. Wait, what?

Here's the reason for the return: for reasons that I can only imagine are related to Samsung trying to force the user into landscape mode, this is a tablet with physical buttons. The buttons are at the "bottom" of the tablet in landscape mode - which is a nuisance, but not a hindrance. It's when you put the tablet into portrait mode that things get funky...

First, it's awkward. If you want to hit the home, back or menu keys, they are no longer at the bottom of the page, where android "muscle memory" tells you that they should be. You now have to reach your hand to the side, and punch a "home" button - which is actually a very stiff button. Sounds trivial, until you do it a few hundred times. (If you have the tablet perched on a stand, forget it. Punching that button knocks it over every time.

The worst offense, however, is when you use the tablet as it was originally intended: for taking notes or sketching. Using it for these purposes means (in my case) that I have the tablet in portrait mode and I am either in a meeting taking notes, or walking around sketching... in that position my hand naturally rests with my left thumb on the bezel...which is, you guessed it, exactly where the physical button was placed. I turn the application off and return to the home screen by accident 90% of the time.

It's frustrating to the point of making me want to kick a puppy, so back it goes.

I have no early idea (other than the one I stated at the beginning) why Samsung would return to the physical button that was abandoned when the world moved on the Android 3+ and higher. I know they have a UIX group, and I know they have a physical testing lab...how did this product decision make it to market? It's marred a tablet that I would have otherwise rated as a 10. Pity.

Comments (1) subscribe to this review's comments


There's a really easy fix for that, just turn the tablet upside down and you will no longer be touching those buttons. Also, there are ways to disable those buttons if you so choose to look for them on the internet and have the on screen buttons back as well. Android is very customizable, and there is no reason to be unsatisfied due to some buttons. I am completely disapointed in this review.