I have been using the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tab for a couple of days, and wanted to share my thoughts with you.  Not another android tablet review I hear you moan…….I know…it’s the same thing that went through my mind when I was asked if I wanted to take it for a test run.

Don’t be fooled by the name – this is more than a combination of the popular Samsung Note and the Galaxy Tab. In a growing tablet market, the Galaxy Note delivers the differentiation needed to stand out from the crowd.

The main differentiator I want to tell you about is the Galaxy Note’s stylus – the S Pen. For some time, Samsung have recognised that not all users can write clearly on a screen with their fingers. The latest iteration,– the S Pen –gives you the ability to write and draw a lot more accurately. As a fountain pen user, and not a particularly neat writer when taking notes in a meeting, I have had many bad experiences attempting to use a variety of finger or stylus based applications to take notes on tablets. (I currently have three different stylus based note taking applications on my tablet, and none of them get much of a workout now – I use a wireless keyboard instead!).

The Galaxy Note S Pen has renewed my faith in the future of substituting paper for glass.

What makes it so special? Well for starters, it has a pressure sensitive tip that allows you to get that real pen sensation – the harder you press the thicker the mark on the screen. The Galaxy Note also lets you write on the screen in your normal manner– if you rest your hand on the screen it does not interfere with the writing. No more hand contortionist performances.

The Handwriting – to – Text feature works well.  Once activated, your handwritten words convert to typed text as soon as you pause in your writing. My unscientific test (writing several sentences) showed a very high level of accuracy in translating my scrawl! I found that if I slowed down a bit and wrote more clearly the Galaxy Note had a better chance of getting it right.

The S Pen has its own storage bay under the Galaxy Note, and you can use the S Pen to replace a lot of your current hand gestures – changing screens, double tapping an application, selecting a hyperlink, etc.

How does the S Pen work?

The S Pen technology was developed for Samsung by Wacom. Samsung has just purchased a 5% stake in the company. Wacom use electromagnetic resonance technology in their tablet design. The S Pen has no battery, but rather gets its power through resonant inductive coupling. Simply put, the tablet has a series of grids under the screen that create a magnetic field that, at close range, powers the S Pen. The grids tells the tablet where the pen is, and, based on the pressure applied by the tip when writing on the screen, the thickness of the line being drawn.

Having the technology is one thing – having the applications to show it off is an entirely different proposition. S Note is Samsung’s note taking app. This is the app that sold me on the Galaxy Note 10.1. In S  With the app you can utilise a number of templates for formal note taking, drawing, sending messages, and, if you are a math or science student, you can use the formula tab for correct notation. It is in S Note that I used the handwriting-to-text feature. (If you don’t want to use a stylus, the onscreen keyboard performs well – although I did find I was correcting more errors when I tried to touch type at any speed (and yes, I do touch type!)).

If you are an artist – the S Pen also works well in both S Note and the provided Adobe Photoshop Touch. Because the S Pen has a presence indicator that lights up exactly where it would be if you touched the screen, fine work on Photoshop is much more accurate.

The multitasking capability of the Galaxy Note 10.1 will make it popular with students. With an increasing number of students now attending lectures online, the Galaxy Note allows you to view presentations or video on one side of the screen and take notes on the other side.  Another S Pen application I tried was to download a PDF file, annotate it, save it and send it back as a marked-up PDF.  Keep a look out for the growing number business applications that will take advantage of the pinpoint accuracy of the S Pen.

I believe Samsung have drawn the line in the sand, setting a new standard of person to machine interface. It should be interesting to see who takes up the challenge.