LAS VEGAS: KOREAN HARDWARE MAKER Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 along with the Galaxy Tab Pro lineup at CES on Monday, and we've managed to get our mitts on the firm's first business focused tablet.
Not only is the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro the firm's first tablet aimed at professionals, it's also the company's debut 12in tablet, with Apple reportedly also set to join it later this year.
We got some hands-on time with the Galaxy Note Pro on the CES showroom floor on Tuesday, and it quickly managed to convince us that it could be the best tablet for business folk yet.
Samsung clearly thinks that 12in tablets are the next big thing, given that it has launched two this week in Las Vegas. However, from our hands-on time with the device, we're not entirely convinced yet.
At 295.6x204x7.95 mm the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro is not a bulky device, but with a weight of 735g, it's fairly heavy. We used the Galaxy Note Pro for approximately 15 to 20 minutes on the CES show floor, and by the time we finished we found our wrists begging for us to let go.
For those who don't mind a weighty device, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro isn't bad-looking. It sports the same faux leather backing as the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, and will be available in the same black and white flavours. While the textured back isn't quite to our tastes, it does feel nice in the hand and sets the tablet apart from others on the market.
While we're not fans of the added weight that the large 12.2in screen adds to the Galaxy Note Pro tablet, we found the display quite impressive. It boasts 2560x1600 resolution, which makes it competitive on paper with Apple iPad tablets.
That said, with the 8.4in and 10.1in Galaxy Tab Pro models sporting the same screen resolution, the display's crispness and vibrancy seem somewhat pale in comparison.
The display, unlike that of the almost identically specified Galaxy Tab Pro, also supports Samsung's S Pen stylus, which comes included with the device. This, paired with the large 12.2in screen, makes for an all around productive experience, and we found that it felt natural to take notes and doodle on the larger than average screen. This also means that the device can take advantage of Samsung's S Pen optimised apps.
Performance and software
Under the bonnet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a powerhouse. The 3G and WiFi model ships with Samsung's homegrown octa-core Exynos 5 processor, while the 4G LTE versions has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip.
We got our hands on the quad-core model, and as you'd expect from a tablet of this calibre we found the Galaxy Note Pro nippy. Apps open quickly, swiping through homescreens is especially smooth, and the device feels quite responsive.
The Galaxy Note Pro is one of the only devices announced at this year's CES that arrives running Google's Android 4.4 Kitkat mobile operating system, which is a bonus for fans of Google's software, but you wouldn't know this by looking at the tablet.
Samsung has skinned the Android mobile operating system with its new Magazine UX, which looks like an amalgamation of Windows 8 and Flipboard. When we first picked up the device, the custom software felt very alien, and it took us about 10 minutes to study the user interface before we felt confident using it.
Once we had familarised ourselves with the user interface, we found it quite pleasant to use. As its branding suggests, swiping through screens and apps mimics flicking through a magazine and saves jumping in and out of applications, with Samsung clearly looking to make this device as productive as possible.
Samsung has also loaded the Galaxy Note Pro with features designed to convince professionals not to buy an iPad. The most obvious of these is multi-window mode, allowing four applications to be open on the screen at once, and a PC-like onscreen keyboard, which we found made it easier to type than Samsung's previous tablets.
There are several bundled business apps, too, including Cisco Webex, which is free for six months, as well as Dropbox, Remote PC and an onboard office productivity suite.
While we found the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro too large to hold comfortably and its Magazine UX confusing at first, the tablet soon managed to win us over.
In our opinion, there isn't a better alternative for business users on the market right now. While the iPad has famously won the affections of professional tablet customers, we found that Samsung's PC grade onscreen keyboard makes a huge difference when it comes to productivity, and the onboard apps and business focused features are added bonuses.
Of course, the tablet's success will really depend partly upon how much it costs when it goes on sale, a pretty important detail that Samsung has managed to avoid revealing thus far.
Check back soon for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro. µ