Mobile World Congress, a debutante ball of sorts for the wireless industry, is an oddity; set against a landscape more famous for its modernist accents and marathon nightlife than propensity for forward-facing gadgetry. Yet every year, despite this cultural contrast, mobile's best, brightest and even little known descend upon Barcelona to showcase the incoming tide of next-gen wares. It's a wonder, then, that for all the bombast and spectacle, Samsung, a titan in the cluttered Android field, chose to occupy a sizable swathe of the event's booth real estate with a glut of mid-range and less-than-fresh devices. Save for one notable product.
Without the halo of its still secret unicorn, the Galaxy S III, to power the brand's visibility, the company turned the spotlight on its other flagship -- the Galaxy Note 10.1 -- as more of a rightful successor to its O.G. Galaxy Tab of the same size, not the recently debuted Tab 2 (10.1). Confused? That's understandable, but this broad-screened fella's outing marks a stark transition away from the Note as smartphone, established by its 5.3-inch forebear, to a concrete series of S-Pen equipped products. Its beefier dual-core 1.4GHz CPU and 1GB RAM notwithstanding, this is, for all intents and purposes, more of a gentle update than a full-on refresh, as most of the build, screen (1,280 x 800) and camera setup remains virtually unchanged.
Solidifying the unit's place atop the industry's top-shelf mantel, is its inclusion of Google's latest ICS OS (4.0.3), slathered here in a TouchWiz skin, and the addition of two pre-installed S-Pen apps: Adobe PS Touch and Ideas. So, software improvements aside, why should this tablet, an admitted work-in-progress that's lacking the finishing touches of a final production model, occupy a space on your finely tuned tech radar? Why should you devote a portion of your gadget-lusting heart to the promise of a killer device currently lacking any known pricing or availability? Well, to answer those questions, Samsung let us spend some brief, albeit quality time with the Note's in-development next of kin. So follow on after the break as we explore its digitizer-optimized nooks and crannies and whet your appetites for what's to come.