Samsung's Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is a powerful tablet with a huge screen rivaling that of laptops. But don’t think of it as replacing your laptop anytime soon.
The South Korean tech giant has packed the Galaxy Note Pro with an enormous 12.2-inch screen and numerous software features meant to let users perform the same types of tasks that they could on a computer, such as running one app on top of another at the same time.
Samsung says it made the tablet so users can be productive and look professional holding it. The tablet features Samsung’s stitched faux-leather back cover that the company has begun to use on many of its products. Though it sounds tacky and looks bad in pictures, the faux leather gives the tablet a business look and makes it comfortable to hold.
Samsung is hoping this approach will help it gain a larger foothold in the tablet market.
The Galaxy Note Pro includes several tools a pro user might want: dual speakers, a pop-out stylus and a microSD memory card slot.
But what stands out most about this tablet is its sheer size. With a 12.2-inch screen, the Galaxy Note Pro stands out compared with the 9.7-inch screen of Apple's iPad Air tablet.
Beside its large size, though, the screen is also visually stunning. It high-resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels impresses from the moment the user powers up the device and sees its default lock screen — a beautiful montage of bright colors.
The screen’s large size and high quality make it perfect for watching videos. I saw the latest episodes of “Girls” on the Galaxy Note Pro and enjoyed watching it thanks to the combination of the screen and the dual speakers.
But besides watching movies and TV shows, the large screen size makes the Galaxy Note Pro perfect for taking in a lot of information at once. That’s why it is one of Samsung’s first gadgets to run its Magazine UX interface.
The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 uses the same Samsung Android interface that users are accustomed to, but once users swipe to the left, they will see a different kind of screen. There, users can arrange various widgets. By default, Magazine UX comes with feeds from Flipboard, the app that pulls content from users' social networks and lays it out like stories in a magazine.
The combination of story feeds with widgets for email, users’ calendars and other tools make the Magazine UX interface a helpful one for gathering information a user might need to start the day.
From there, users can get more productive by using the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2’s ability to run as many as four apps on the screen at the same time. To activate this feature, users swipe their fingers from the right edge of the screen bringing out a drawer of apps. They then drag all the apps out that they want to use onto the screen, one after the other.
Users can control how much of the screen they want to dedicate to each app. They can also replace which app is placed in which spot of the screen, and they can drag elements from one app — like a picture in a browser — onto another app, such as the Hword document app. Samsung also makes it possible for users to save the app combinations they use, making it easy for them to quickly launch multiple apps at the same time.
Although the feature doesn’t work with all apps on Android, it does work with many important ones, including essentially all the apps by Samsung. Many Google apps also work with the multi-window feature, including YouTube, Chrome and Google Maps. Other notable apps, like Facebook and Twitter, can also be used in this mode.
The one downside to the multi-window mode is that users are limited to a tiny on-screen keyboard when they want to type. The keyboard can be dragged around the screen, but because it is so small, users will basically have to poke at it with one finger to type. This goes completely against the idea of productivity that Samsung is trying to sell.
Fortunately, users also have the option of running apps on top of other apps as pop-up windows, and in this mode, they have access to the Galaxy Note Pro’s virtual full-size keyboard. Using pop-up windows, users can come up with all sorts of combinations, such as running a browser app in the background and the Hword document app as a pop-up. Users can also run multiple apps as pop-ups at the same time. I was able to run Spotify with four more apps opened as pop-ups on top of it before I decided I didn’t need any more apps opened.
Being able to use the Galaxy Note Pro’s full-size keyboard is important, as it is another one of Samsung’s selling points for the device. Samsung has gone away from the typical touchscreen keyboard and optimized the Galaxy Note Pro to make it resemble that which users are accustomed to on their Windows laptops and desktops. What this means is the keyboard includes the Control key, the Caps-Lock key, the Delete key and the inverted-T arrow keys as well. The control key can be used in combination with others, like the C and V keys, to access the same kinds of shortcuts that can be performed on computers.
But while this is a more advanced keyboard in terms of productivity than the touchscreen keyboards on any other tablets, at the end of the day, it is still a touchscreen keyboard. For many users who don’t like tapping away at a screen, the addition of a few familiar keys likely won’t make a difference. And to use the keyboard, users will essentially have to lay the tablet on a flat service.
The Galaxy Note Pro can certainly be used to write documents, but I still prefer using a laptop, which offers a better keyboard and allows me to see the screen at a more comfortable angle. If users truly want to use the Galaxy Note Pro to be productive as well as comfortable, they’ll likely need to buy a stand as well as a Bluetooth keyboard for the device.
As far as the battery, the Galaxy Note Pro performed at an acceptable rate. The Samsung device’s battery life was average for a tablet — meaning I got about a day’s worth of work from it — but it lasted longer than your typical laptop, which can usually only run for six hours or so.
The Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is available with 32-gigabytes of storage for $749.99 or with 64 GB for $849.99.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with the Galaxy Note Pro and believe it is one of the top large-size tablets on the market. However, if you’re really looking for a machine on which you can be productive, a laptop is still the better choice.