Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review: Testing the stylus-toting tablet

Too many devices these days suffer from : They're okay but unremarkable -- and in a sea of similar-looking slates, they end up blending into the pack and drowning in obscurity.

With its new , Samsung is fighting to avoid that fate. The Galaxy Note 10.1, announced initially in February and then introduced to the market last week, relies on a stylus -- an S Pen, as Samsung calls it -- to provide distinctive features. The product builds upon the concept introduced with the company's 5.3-in. -- a device that, despite initial skepticism, has sold 10 million units worldwide, according to Samsung's recent estimates.

So does the new Note 10.1 deliver? I've been using the tablet extensively for the past several days to find out. After all, the Android tablet market is a crowded space, and top-notch tablet experiences are now available for . If Samsung expects people to drop $500 to $550 for for a 16GB or 32GB model, respectively, it had better be a fantastic tablet to use.

Body and display

I won't beat around the bush: The Galaxy Note 10.1 doesn't make the best first impression. The tablet -- which is 0.35 in. thick and weighs 1.3 lb. -- feels plasticky and cheap, more like a budget product than a premium device. The rear casing flexes with the slightest bit of pressure from your fingertips. Compared to the impressively sleek tablets available at the same price and, like Asus's Transformer Pad Infinity, for example, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has an almost toy-like build.

The body, unfortunately, isn't the only thing about the Note 10.1 that underwhelms. The 's 1280 x 800 LCD screen is okay but not great -- certainly a far cry from the high-definition displays available on other comparably priced devices, such as the aforementioned Transformer Pad Infinity or Acer's Iconia Tab A700. From a $500 tablet today, I expect far better.