Can you really cram the productivity of a PC into an Android tablet? Samsung is attempting just that with the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 and three new Galaxy Pro tablets in multiple sizes: 8.4, 10.1 and 12.2 inches. Available during the first quarter, all four models sport super-sharp 2560 x 1600-pixel displays, and both larger 12.2-inch slates let you run four apps on the screen at once. Samsung has also reinvented the Android home screen with its Magazine UX and bundles a ton of business-friendly software, including PC remote access.
MORE: Best of CES 2014 Awards
As you might expect for a 12.2-inch tablet, the Note Pro 12.2 is a lot to handle. The 1.65-pound weight felt hefty but manageable because of the thin profile (0.31 inches). The 12.2-inch Galaxy Pro is the same thickness but weighs a slightly lighter 1.61 pounds. You definitely won't hold either device comfortably in one hand, as you can with the iPad Air, but that's the trade-off for a bigger display.
MORE: Top 10 Laptops Now
The Galaxy Pro 10 weighs just more than a pound (similar to the iPad mini), while the more compact 8.4-inch model is 0.72 pounds. The 8.4-inch screen is an unusual size, making for a tall but narrow design. All of these tablets use the same faux leather back as the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1, which adds a premium vibe.
Multi Window Goes Quad
During our hands-on time with Samsung's new flagship Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, we were particularly impressed with the enhancements to Multi Window. Slide your finger in from the right side of the screen, and you'll be able to drag one of more than 30 app onto the display. You can then keep going so that four apps are running in their own quadrants. This feature is available only on the Galaxy Note 12.2 and 12.2-inch Galaxy Pro.
New Magazine UX
Every one of these new slates benefits from Samsung's Magazine UX, which takes the My Magazine feature offered on the Galaxy Note 3 to the next level. Inspired by Flipboard but with a lot more functionality, you'll find three dedicated screens when you fire up the Note Pro.
The first Personal Space screen displays the time, weather, news, your latest emails and favorite apps for easy access. There's also a Work Space and Social and Media Space, all of which you can customize. You can add up to two more screens and personalize them however you like. Some may be turned off by Samsung of eschewing the typical icon-based paradigm, but you can always go back to a traditional home screen if you wish.
MORE: Top iPad Alternatives
A key feature of the 12.2-inch Note Pro and Galaxy Pro is a redesigned virtual keyboard that mimics the look and feel of a notebook. You'll find dedicated arrow keys, and even laptop-like shortcuts like copy, cut and paste by via Ctrl key combos. Samsung says the haptic feedback produces a more realistic typing experience, but in our testing we didn't notice much of a difference versus other tablets.
The Wi-Fi version of the Galaxy Note Pro and 10- and 12-inch Galaxy Pro feature a Exynos 5 Octa Processor, while the LTE version will have a Snapdragon 800 CPU. The 8.4-inch version will use only the Snapdragon chip. The higher-end 12-inch slates get 3 GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, while the 8.4- and 1o-inch models sport 2GB of RAM and 16GB to start. All four tablets have a 2-MP front camera and 8-MP rear shooter.
Business Apps Galore
Samsung is definitely aiming for the corporate crowd with the Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Pro line. Out of the box you'll find the Hancom Office suite for viewing and editing office files, Remote PC software for accessing your PC or Mac and Cisco WebEx Meetings for screen sharing during video calls.
To help entice business users, Samsung is also bundling $700 worth of prepaid subscription offers. Partners include everyone from Bloomberg Businessweek and NY Times to Dropbox and Sketchbook Pro.
The new Galaxy Pro line and flagship Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 definitely have the potential to woo shoppers away from the iPad mini, iPad Air and a new wave of Windows 8.1 tablets. We especially like the improved multitasking and engaging Magazine UI. However, given that the current Galaxy Note 10.1 costs $499, we're not sure how much more users are willing to pay for the bigger display. The other Galaxy Pros look like powerful productivity partners in their own right, if you're willing to live without pen input. We look forward to reviewing all of these new tablets to see which ones offer the right mix of features and performance for the money.
- Face-Off: Apple iPad Air vs. Microsoft Surface 2
- iPhone 6 Features: What We Want From Apple
- Tablet Buyers' Guide: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy