Enlarge / The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the included S Pen stylus.
Smartphones and tablets with touchscreens have succeeded in no small part because of their simplicity. Things like memory management and multiple layered windows were removed from the equation and replaced with fullscreen applications that allowed for only minimal background activity. To varying degrees, multitasking via applications running in the background has come to iOS and Android, but even Windows is moving away from windowed programs toward a brave new fullscreen future.
At least, to a point. Windows 8 will retain its traditional desktop to enable more versatile computing when desired, and we hope to see more versatile multitasking to come to other tablets as well. Samsung's new Galaxy Note 10.1 wants to be one of those tablets, trying a couple of different multitasking methods that actually work quite well—or they would, if they could support any applications that weren't built in to the device.
The hardware: High-end inside, cheap and plasticky outside
Enlarge / Across the top of the Note 10.1: the headphone jack, IR blaster, SD card slot, volume rocker, and power button.
Enlarge / On the bottom of the tablet, you'll see its proprietary power and data connector. On the right side, you can also see the compartment where the pen is stored.
Enlarge / The Note 10.1's speakers don't get very loud and don't have much bass, but they are mounted on the front of the device, which makes them more difficult to block by accident while watching videos.
Let's start with the good: the Note 10.1, which measures 7.1" x 1.3" x 10.3" and weighs 1.3 pounds, is powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos 4412 CPU and an ARM Mali-400 MP4 GPU. As our benchmarks will show, this is a fast combination that compares favorably to other Android tablets and to Apple's iPad. 16GB and 32GB capacities are available now, with a 64GB version planned for release at an unspecified future date—for now, up to 32GB of additional storage can be added via the MicroSD card slot. A 5.0 megapixel rear camera with flash and a 1.9 megapixel front camera are also included; the latter is suitable for video chatting and not much else, and the former takes passable-but-noisy photos with muted colors.