7.5SCORE 27

Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 review

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There were moments during my two-week period with the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2, the biggest and most expensive tablet on the market, when I thought, “Huh, this could probably replace my laptop.” What do I use my laptop for? Browsing the internet; playing music; taking notes; writing blog posts; playing games. Samsung’s newest tablet is generous on features and pre-installed productivity software; it could just work.

But the Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 is no laptop replacement, even with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. That’s because the company is trying to wedge Android’s open nature into a multitasking paradigm that it wasn’t designed for. It’s a good tablet, and an OK laptop, but at $769, it’s more expensive than either has a right to be these days.

Specs

  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • 12.2-inch 2560×1600 pixel IPS display
  • 1.9Ghz (Cortex-A15) + 1.3Ghz (Cortex-A7) octa-core Exynos processor
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 32GB internal storage + microSD slot
  • 8MP camera w/ flash, 2MP front camera
  • WiFi (ac MIMO), Bluetooth 4.0, IrLED, GPS+GLONASS
  • 9500mAh
  • 295.6 x 203.9 x 7.95mm
  • 750g
  • S Pen / Wacom Digitizer

What Works

The NotePRO 12.2 bucks the trend of commodification rife in the tablet industry these days: this is a device meant to be used for many years, and conveys an air of seriousness. Whether it hits that mark, with its $769 price tag and enormous screen real estate, depends on its use case. As a portable tablet, the NotePRO is impractical, even a burden. On paper, those extra 2.1 inches don’t sound like a lot, but the device is significantly larger than its 10.1-inch counterpart, and feels better on a table than in a bag.

That being said, at 750 grams, it’s relatively light for its size, and under 8mm it doesn’t take up too much room. Indeed, it’s a matter of your workflow: is the NotePRO a primary device — a laptop replacement — or a secondary one, like many tablets are today?

Though the NotePRO comes with a number of productivity apps, like Hancom Office, Samsung’s own e-Meeting software, and a Remote PC application, to close the gap between Android and Windows or OS X, it doesn’t feel good enough. Multi Window, Samsung’s still-superior multitasking solution, has also been expanded here to four apps, many of which can transfer content between them, but it still feels like a hack, a stopgap until Android becomes even more extensible. Samsung is pushing Android hardware and software to its absolute limits here, and if there’s something to be achieved on Android, be it in content creation or consumption, rest assured the NotePRO 12.2 will do it better than most.

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Many of the improvements are holdovers from the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, which has since been replaced with the TabPRO 10.1. The hardware still sports horizontal-oriented hardware buttons, which make more sense here than on a smaller device, since using the NotePRO 12.2 in portrait mode is a recipe for comedy.

The hardware, as stated, complements the software quite nicely. Though still of plastic construction, the NotePRO feels much more sturdy than Samsung tablets of past, and we’re finally coming around to Samsung’s choice of faux-leather materials on the back. On the sides, a ribbed, glossy plastic reminds us that the company is still cutting costs — the beautiful Xperia Z tablet this is not — but it’s slowly improving.

The S Pen is the best thing to happen to a tablet this size, and may singlehandedly justify the price increase from the TabPRO 12.2 (which happens to be an even $100).

With so much screen real estate — and the high-resolution panel truly shines here, even with a slightly lower pixel density — creators have a truly blank canvas to work with. Samsung hasn’t messed with a good thing, either: S Note still integrates with Evernote, and there are myriad ways to draw, paint, note-take and scribble. Samsung finally seems to be getting a grip on good software design, and along with improvements to its TouchWIZ UI as a whole — the drop-down notification menu is much more tasteful, for example — its first-party apps are not just usable but pretty.

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What Needs Work

For a device this powerful — it has a modern Exynos processor, the latest radio chips with support for WiFi-ac MIMO, 3GB of RAM, and the latest version of Android — the NotePRO is clunky.

It seems like Samsung still can’t remove the cruft from its Android skin, as screen transitions, app loading times, and various menial tasks still stutter and fault. It’s not as bad as it was in the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition but it’s still present, and there’s no excuse for that. The 9,500mAh battery, while enormous, does not exceed the uptime of its smaller counterparts, partially owing to the massive number of pixels but also due to Samsung’s constantly-updating software features.

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To that end, TouchWIZ has a new suffix: Magazine UX. It’s not an entirely new feature, but instead of being accessible from a vertical swipe on the homescreen, a la Note 3, it’s integrated into the launcher itself.

Combining a number of large-area Flipboard widgets divided by category, like News, Sports, Technology and Science and Arts and Culture with productivity widgets that reproduce calendar and time information is pretty, but not especially useful. Google reportedly pushed back at Samsung when they saw the first Magazine UX prototypes and convinced the Korean company to default to a more traditional Android home screen, relegating the widgets to a horizontal scroll, and we’re glad they did.

Samsung also provides a number of value-adds to its consumers, including free trials of BusinessWeek magazine, Evernote, New York Times, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Sketchbook, Blurb and more, but many of them are too short to be useful. There’s also the matter of the upfront price of the tablet being far too high for the average consumer, though it’s clear that Samsung, which is offering an optional Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, is gunning for the enterprise customer with this particular model.

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Conclusions

As useful as the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 has the potential to be, it’s too big, too clunky and too expensive to be a viable purchase for the average consumer. As the company’s flagship tablet, it’s a beautiful technology demo, showcasing many of the hardware and software advantages that entice consumers to return again and again.

But given that the S Pen-free TabPRO 10.1 is $519.99 and offers largely the same specs in a more compact form factor (not to mention the superlatively sharp TabPRO 8.4, which costs a more reasonable $419.99), that average consumer may still stay in Samsung’s camp, and that’s a win for the company.

I’d love to see Samsung continue to offer a 12.2-inch tablet in the future while eliminating any excess size and weight — cutting those bezels down and thinning it out slightly — but the mere size of the screen will continue to put off many tablet buyers, even those with large budgets.

Final Score

OVERALL

7.5OVERALL SCORE

Given that the S Pen-free TabPRO 10.1 is $519.99 and offers largely the same specs in a more compact form factor (not to mention the superlatively sharp TabPRO 8.4, which costs a more reasonable $419.99), that average consumer may still stay in Samsung’s camp, and that’s a win for the company.

I’d love to see Samsung continue to offer a 12.2-inch tablet in the future while eliminating any excess size and weight — cutting those bezels down and thinning it out slightly — but the mere size of the screen will continue to put off many tablet buyers, even those with large budgets.

  • jellmoo

    Doesn’t the NotePRO 12.2 have an octa core Exynos processor? 4 cores at 1.9 and 4 cores at 1.3?

    • bakakun028

      I am pretty sure the wifi model does

  • southerndinner

    I dig you for the most part Samsung but those awful buttons need to GO AWAY from the tablets. It’s literally a deal breaker.

  • unbiasedguy17

    It’s octacore.

    • Johnny S.

      Doesn’t matter, it will still lag

    • unbiasedguy17

      Oh really?

      as far as I’m concerned every piece of electronic equipment will lag every now and then, won’t it?

      So, your comment is fairly irrelevant.

      If you’re going to troll, at least do a good job.

    • Jonathan Schmitt

      Johnny S. does have a point – but the only reason it lags is because of Samsung’s Touchwiz or Magazine UX. While they look amazing, they eat up too much of the performance.

      My Tab 3 8.0 runs great, but I had to lower settings for animation because of the Touchwiz launcher. I installed a Custom rom – super fast and no lag.

      If Samsung would offer the option to change between Magazine/Touchwiz and more of a vanilla flavor, you would see more people jumping for this stuff.

  • ineptone

    That’s almost as big as the TV I had as a kid.

    • Ed Elliott

      Yeah me too haha its still at my moms house in my old room, the old 13 inch tv…i still remember when we first bought it hahaha

    • Just My 2 Cents

      First World problem….

  • eszklar

    Played with this at Best Buy at the Bay/Dundas store in Toronto over the weekend. Did not like enjoy Magazine UX which did cause stutter while moving around the tablet’s interface. I’m not sure using another launcher like say Nova or ADW would reduce the stutter but I found this annoying given the hardware. I just kept thinking what if CyanogeMOD put out a ROM for this (yes I know it may impact SPen functionality). To be honest I was much more impressed with the TabPRO 8.4″. The NotePRO 12.2″ is simply too expensive and even the TabPRO 8.4″ is pricey @ $420 but worth it given its specs.

    • vitriolix

      Cyanogen supports the pen on other note devices. If only I could justify the upgrade from my Nexus 10 I’d love this running cyanogen. Can’t stand Samsung’s skin.

  • TomsDisqusted

    Daniel wrote the “Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, which has since been replaced with the TabPRO 10.1.” I’m assuming the tab pro doesn’t have the pen, so it wouldn’t really replace the Note 10.1.

    Are they going to stop selling the Note 10.1 2014? Is there going to be a NotePro 10.1? For those that like the Pen – and the article suggests the pen is excellent – but find this NotePro 12.2 too big and expensive, the Note 10.1 seems like a good choice.

    • BB BB

      No the Note 10.1 2014 is here for a while. You can finally buy them here too without having to drive to the border just to get a tablet

  • Deli

    I played with it at the Samsung store. the ‘lag’ is way overplayed in this article. I checked other reviews, it is a very decent device. It is definitely heavy (duh, massive tablet!) and pretty darn pricey. My dad is definitely getting one (probably tab pro for $650).
    As for people complaining about the home button, you can download software buttons and don’t use them. I prefer a physical button because it doesn’t waste my precious screen realty. But to each their own!!

  • RitchieD

    I haven’t used my laptop since I got my notepro, except to install the remote software that let my tablet take over the laptop. And the only reason I could find to remote connect was to use PC chrome to organize my bookmarks.
    So for me, this tablet is my laptop replacement.

    PS. HWord is amazing, easier to use then the desktop word.

  • BB BB

    Really only a 7.5 out of 10? I have an iPad Air and it has only 1GB of Ram and it crashes a lot even with 7.1 which is supposed to fix a lot of 7.0 issues. Comparing alternatives I looked at the 10.1 Galaxy Note 2014 Edition and a Surface 2. I didn’t like the lag and cheap plastic I experienced on the 10.1 Note 2014, the Surface 2 is much closer to a laptop replacement with good build quality with the super thin Keyboard and a real Office Suite with no noticeable lag and side by side Multi-Tasking. After looking at your video the Galaxy Pro looked like it suffered from no apparent lag and has a very nice screen. I wouldn’t call It an overpriced tablet seeing how an iPad costs $849 for 64GB of storage and cellular support. So what do you get? If you already have a laptop / ultrabook and need a tablet the Glaxy Pro seems to be a great device if you aren’t married to Apple. I like the design of the iPad Air but I wouldn’t recommend buying one until they release one that has at least 2 GB of Ram and iOS can support multiple on screen windows. Perhaps the iPad Pro will be the way to go in the near future.

    • cartfan88

      My Ipad Crash …crashes constantly. It’s ridiculous…was and still am hoping these Pro’s provide a reasonable large (10″ and up) alternative. We shall see.

  • Peter

    What I find irritating about many reviews is comments like this…

    “As useful as the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 has the potential to be, it’s too big, too clunky and too expensive to be a viable purchase for the average consumer.”

    Does the word “PRO” and its use in the tablet name mean anything to you the reviewer? It indicates to me that this tablet was not intended for “the average consumer”!

    Almost all reviewers see this product in a very negative manner. If this was a product produced by Apple it would be seen as “the best tablet ever made”.

    Reviewers compare this with the iPad Air, a totally incorrect comparison. They also state things such as the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 pixel density is lower than the iPad Air, so what! The Galaxy Tab 8.4 has a pixel density that is THIRTY SIX PERCENT BETTER than the iPad Air – do you ever see that mentioned?

    The USB3 connection on this tablet can connect to and power a 1 terrabyte drive. You can read and write any file type and create folders of YOUR choice to store files as you choose, not as Apple decides. I know this because I use a 1 terrabyte drive on my Galaxy Note 3!!

    The Galaxy Notes can connect to and work with many other USB devices via an On The Go cable (OTG cable, $1 on eBay). It can be controlled via a Logitech Presenter for use in presenting PowerPoint presentations. (BTW my original and now 2 year old Galaxy Note 1 could also work with slide presentations using the Logitech Presenter)

    Does ANY reviewer ever refer to this POWER within a tablet (oh, and the Galaxy Note 3 phone!!) NO! Why? Is it because they are Apple biased or just plain clueless!

    Oh, the USB3 connection is also backward compatible to USB2 not like the new and backwardly incompatible AND PROPRIETARY Apple connection.

    It can also take photos in the dark using its LED flash, iPad Air photos in the dark are just black!!

    IPad Air tablets are great, there is no doubt about that. In my obviously biased opinion the Galaxy Note Tablets are better. Yes it does depend on the users’ needs. Many people would not want or need the POWER available to them in the Galaxy Note x.x”. This does not and should not detract from the ability of the Galaxy Note, nor should it be a cause for stating the iPad is better.

    The average consumer previously mentioned wants something SIMPLE and for them the iPad Air is just that simple!

    Stepping down from my soapbox now…

    regards

    Peter

    • Just My 2 Cents

      Everything you said is true. And what you said about these reviewers being Apple biased is doubly true!

    • Peter

      Thanks for the backup :-)

    • Ken Wiebe

      I couldn’t agree more with you Peter. This blog post is a joke…the NotePro 12.2 is not for the average user and was not intended to be. I have been using mine for the past couple of weeks and couldn’t be happier.

      I use it for mainly when I’m out with customers. Scheduling, emailing, portfolio, demonstrations, tasking, file sharing etc…it the best work companion my laptop has ever had.

      Is it worth the $769…absolutely. Is it for everyone…not a chance.

    • Peter

      That’s great news to hear. I am still trying to get one for myself. There is a good review on “Tom’s hardware” – I don’t have the url link at the moment.

      Regards Peter

    • Dimitri

      Its Daniel. What do you expect. He is a Apple Fan boy for years & he has admitted to it many times. Funny when he reveiws a Apple product, some how it gets a higher score then any Android / Blackberry product.

      He is biased & won’t admit that he needs to get off MobileSyrup & go live his real life for a bit.

  • Mo Dabbas

    Is Samsung halting the production of the Note 10.1 2014 edition? I was thinking of buying that (before reading this that is).
    I thought the more power should make those faster than my original note 10.1.

    Now I’m considering the Asus transformer T701 with tegra 4 processor.

    Any recommendations?

  • Jamesology

    No SIM no buy

    • Ken Wiebe

      No problem

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