Review: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro
April 1, 2014
Almost all tablets have screens somewhere in the 7-in to 10-in range. But what happens when you stretch that all the way out to 12.2 inches? You get the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro, a device that's marketed for both work and play. Join Gizmag, as we review the enormous slate.
I like it when people question established norms and do things their own way. So when Samsung looked at a world where 10-in tablet screens are considered "full-sized," and decided to add another two inches to that, well, I said "why not?" When I actually use the gigantic Galaxy Note Pro, though, the answer to that question becomes clearer.
First, even though it's relatively light for its size, this thing feels unwieldy in hand. Portability needs to play a big role with any tablet, and the 750 g (1.65 lb) 12.2-in Note Pro definitely dials that back a notch or two. Another issue is that mobile apps just aren't designed for a screen this big (at least not right now). I see little advantage in using most of them on a 12-in screen over a 10-in one.
If you do a lot of side-by-side multitasking, which Samsung's TouchWiz offers, then the huge screen makes a little more sense. But this is Android – not Windows or Mac OS X. Are you really going to use this as a serious productivity device? Yes, it's possible, and mobile apps have come a long way in that respect. But right now, I just don't see enough of an advantage here over something like a Windows hybrid. Android's tablet app selection is weaker than the iPad's, and it doesn't even hold a candle to Windows' or OS X's library of work-related apps.
Another issue is that even a terrific display resolution, like the Galaxy Note Pro's 2,560 x 1,600, only comes out looking "pretty good" when it's stretched out this wide. If you rest it on your lap it looks plenty sharp. But hoist the giant slab a little closer to your eyes and you'll see some pixels. That's never a selling point when you're looking at a premium US$750 device.
So what is the Galaxy Note Pro good for? Well, unless you want to see the same content you'd see on another tablet – only blown-up much bigger – I'm at a bit of a loss. It's easy to market a tablet with an enormous screen and a stylus as "productivity-focused." But again, what kind of work is anyone really going to do on this thing? You can buy third-party keyboard cases for it and transform it into a faux laptop, I suppose (Zagg and Logitech each sell them). You can even use a bundled Remote PC app to access your home desktop PC. But again, by the time you're throwing down more than $850, why not just get something that runs a full desktop OS natively? If we're really talking about productivity, then that's going to win every time.
I think that the Surface 2, which doesn't even run full Windows desktop apps, is better for productivity than this. It ships with Microsoft Office, its Windows Store apps fit that kind of device better than Android apps do this kind, and its keyboard is an integral part of its experience. Most importantly, it can be had (with keyboard) for $580.
It's not that the Galaxy Note Pro isn't a nice, well-made device. I enjoy reading e-books on it. Video looks good on its spacious screen. Samsung bundled some solid office and remote conferencing apps with it, to at least try to suggest some use cases. There is even something fun (for at least a few minutes) about having such a gigantic window into your apps and content. It also has great battery life, lasting ten hours while streaming video (with brightness set at 75 percent).
My problem is more with the value proposition. If it cost the same as 10-in tablets, then hey, why not? But at $250 more than the excellent Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, I just don't see many cases where the Note Pro is going to be the better buy.
I don't fault Samsung for trying new things. And even though I'm obviously not a big fan of the Galaxy Note Pro, I like seeing a company throw its cards on the table and experiment with something new. But I also don't really recommend buying this expensive monstrosity. It's an interesting idea, only without a clear purpose. Or at least a purpose that makes much sense outside of a clever marketing campaign.
For more on Samsung's new Pro Series tablets, you can read our reviews of the terrific Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. I think they give you much more bang for your buck than this $750 experiment.
Product page: Samsung