Galaxy Note 10.1 price might be its undoing

The Galaxy Note 10.1 launch is right around the corner, a launch that has been rather messy in terms of exact information, dates, and prices. The device is now listed for pre-order on many sites in Europe, including here in Norway. The prices we’re seeing are however not very encouraging, and I have to wonder if the Note 10.1 is going to be one of those devices that are simply priced wrong.

Here in Norway, the 16GB 3G version of the Note 10.1 is priced at 5000 NOK. To put that in perspective, you can get an 8GB Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for 2000 NOK, an iPad 2 16GB WiFi for 2800 NOK, an iPad 3 16GB WiFi for 3800 NOK, or a 64GB Transformer Pad TF700 for 5000 NOK. Various devices are priced differently in relation to one another over here compared to in the US, so I’d guess somewhere in the $500-$600 range for the WiFi version in the US.

Whether or not the high price extends to the US or not, I believe it’s a mistake to mark it this high anywhere at all. The Note 10.1’s 2GB of RAM is absent from the specs list of some of the pre-order pages, but even if it does have the full 2GB, neither that nor the quad core Exynos chip is really that impressive in a world of Tegra 3 chips in even cheap tablets like the Nexus 7. That leaves the pen, which is the device’s main selling point.

The usefulness of that pen is very much dependent on software. Android doesn’t have the software needed to make use of the pen, which is why Samsung has spent a lot of time on the included software on the Note 10.1. If that software fails to meet up to expectations, the Note 10.1 will basically be a large piece of digital paper. Having used nothing but an iPad for an entire semester of higher education, I’ve discovered first hand how paramount good software is. Pen input is only part of it, and I’d much rather have a clumsy stylus-dependent iPad with the proper software, than a tablet with a proper pen and clumsy software. With the Note 10.1 being so completely dependent on the included software, it almost feels like a product that has a proprietary OS. Before anyone actually gets to play around with the Note 10.1 and test the software out, buying one is a gamble.

I personally think that Samsung has overestimated the value of its S Pen. While it’s a nice feature, it isn’t enough to carry a device on its own. At the price point the Note 10.1 is at, you’re forced to choose between features. High resolution screen, keyboard dock, or S Pen? The problem for Samsung is that the iPad 3 is significantly cheaper and has better software for office-related things, the TF700 has two of the features in that list, while the Note 10.1 only has the pen.

It sure is one seriously expensive pen.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets and tends to stick with his choice of device for a long time as a result of that. After a five year break from writing, he's back to share this view with the world once again.