If you're in the market for a huge, stylus-ready tablet, then August might just be your lucky month.
Samsung has announced that its Galaxy Note 10.1 -- a larger-scale tablet version of its popular 5.3-inch Galaxy Note half-phone/ half-tablet "phablet" -- will go on sale the world over in August. The Note tablet arrives with the "S Pen" stylus and a 10.1-inch screen (slightly larger than the iPad's 9.6-inch screen); it will be available in either Wi-Fi or 3G models, with 4G LTE models coming out later in 2012. Samsung did not provide pricing details with its announcement.
Since Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note 10.1 all the way back in February at the Mobile World Congress, you might need a little refresher on the newest member of the ever-expanding Note family. Samsung has prepared a lengthy video showing off the Note 10.1's abilities, with a special focus on multi-tasking and content creation:
Samsung's ability to frame the Note 10.1 as a content-creation machine may well aid it against stiff competition in the tablet market: Apple's latest ad plays up the iPad's photo editing and actually begins with the line "Send a note"; Microsoft will certainly try to sell its Surface tablet as an enterprise-ready workstation when it is released in October. The Note 10.1's chief selling point might be that it ships with a Samsung-made stylus, which readily integrates with many of the tablet's native apps; now, Samsung will have to convince buyers that a stylus is an integral tool for serious tablet use.
Besides the stylus, the Galaxy Note 10.1 ships with a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM; a 5 megapixel main camera and 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera; and Android 4.0, or "Ice Cream Sandwich." (That must be a bit of a disappointment, as the latest version of Android -- Android 4.1, or "Jelly Bean" -- was just announced at a Google event in July.) Several of Samsung's branded apps, some of them introduced with the Galaxy S III smartphone and some with the Galaxy Note phablet, will make the leap to the Note 10.1, including Pop Up Play, which allows the user to "pop out" video and play it anywhere on the screen while working on something else; Smart Stay, which keeps the display turned on as long as your eyes are on it; and S Note, Samsung's note-taking app.
Will the popularity of the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S III carry over to the Note 10.1 and continue Samsung's recent hot streak? Though the Korean electronics firm has overtaken Apple in worldwide smartphone sales, Samsung still badly lags in the tablet market; three years later Apple's iPad still makes up well over 50 percent of all sales. Samsung's Galaxy Tabs have proven modestly successful, though the Galaxy Tab is perhaps more famous for its ongoing role in the Apple-Samsung patent infringement cases than as a consumer product.Samsung will hope for better sales (and fewer lawsuits) with its Note 10.1, due out in the United States and worldwide by the end of August. We'll follow up with prices and a firm release date once those details are announced.