Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1: To buy or not to buy?

If you read just one sentence from my Galaxy Note 10.1 review, let it be this:

Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 is an underwhelming tablet with a standout stylus.

That pretty much sums up Sammy's latest creation: The device itself is a dud, but its S Pen stylus is actually quite good.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

So is a stylus -- and the unique types of usage potential it presents -- worth $500? That's the question I raised in my initial impressions of the Galaxy Note 10.1, and after using the tablet extensively for several days, it's the question at the heart of my conclusion.

Here's the cold hard truth: The new Galaxy Note's cheap-feeling build and middling display simply don't scream "DROP 500 DOLLARS ON ME NOW!" Factor in the tablet's already-dated OS -- bloated up and loaded down with Samsung's TouchWiz UI and its accompanying history of unreliable upgrades -- and you aren't exactly looking at what I'd call a must-have device.

Like most things, it's all relative: For the same price as the Note 10.1, you could get a tablet like the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, which boasts a premium-feeling metallic-spun finish and a high-definition 1920 x 1200 Super IPS display -- not to mention superb performance and a near-stock Android experience with a history of very timely upgrades.

Or for $200, you could get one of Google's own Nexus 7 tablets; it's a smaller device with a few less bells and whistles, but with its spectacular performance and untouched Android 4.1 software -- along with the accompanying guarantee of immediate future OS upgrades directly from Google -- it's easily one of the best tablet experiences available today.

Asus Transformer Pad, Nexus 7 Tablets

Next to tablets like those, the Galaxy Note 10.1 looks rather lackluster, to say the least. So it all comes down to that stylus. It's the one thing the Note has that other devices don't.

Me? Nine times out of 10, I'd recommend someone look at a tablet like the Nexus 7 or Transformer Pad over the new Note. For the vast majority of people, I think those devices are going to provide better overall experiences and value. But there are a few exceptions.

Join me on my in-depth Galaxy Note journey, and by the time we're done, I suspect you'll know the right answer for you.

My full review starts here:

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

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