By Alexandra Burlacu | Aug 16, 2012 12:47 PM EDT
Samsung is taking yet another shot at Apple's market-leading iPad with a tablet set to stand out of the crowd. Equipped with a digital pen and a split screen mode, which allows two apps to run simultaneously side-by-side, Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 goes on sale in the U.S., the UK and South Korea on Thursday, Aug. 15, in the same price range as the iPad.
In the U.S., the price starts at $499 for the basic 16GB model and goes up to $549 for the 32GB model, expandable with an external memory card. Apple's latest iPad starts in the same price range, but Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 sports some features the iPad lacks. The Note's screen resolution, however, is lower than the iPad's.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 also comes as Samsung's first Android tablet equipped with a digital pen that can run two applications side-by-side on a screen split in half. The split screen, possible due to the powerful 1.4GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, can prove especially useful when taking notes while surfing the Web or watching a video.
According to analysts, this capability aims to attract business and education customers. This strategy could prove to be more effective than going head-to-head with the market-leading iPad, which already dominates nearly 70 percent of the worldwide tablet market. Samsung has been trying to catch up and released roughly half a dozen Android tablets over the last two years under the Galaxy Tab lineup, but none of them has enjoyed the iPad's great popularity.
With the Galaxy Note 10.1, however, Samsung believes it finally has a product to challenge Apple's dominance with business and education customers, despite the iPad's extensive pool of applications and sharper screen. While Apple releases one new model for the iPhone and iPad every year, Samsung releases multiple mobile products ranging in price, screen size, hardware, and operating systems to appeal to a wider audience.
This strategy helped the South Korean company surpass Apple in smartphone sales, but has not been as effective in the tablet area. Samsung's market share in the worldwide tablet market dropped to 9 percent in the second quarter, while nearly 7 out of 10 tablets were iPads, according to IHS iSupply.
Multitasking, note-taking, and other such tasks possible due to the digital pen can help Samsung differentiate its Galaxy Note 10.1 from the iPad. According to analysts, if these features are executed smoothly the tablet may become popular with professional artists, educators, and businesses.
Samsung first introduced the "S pen" with the Galaxy Note last year, and it has since improved the pressure-sensitive pen to make it more accurate and feel more natural. The 5.3-inch "phablet" has seen an unexpected success with impressive sales of 10 million units, prompting Samsung to further explore the potential of digital pen features.
Users can try out roughly 30 applications for sketching and note taking, Adobe Photoshop Touch, as well as games where the S Pen works better than touching the screen. Currently there are only six applications that support multitasking, but a Samsung official said the company plans to expand that list.
Meanwhile, several other features indicate that Samsung developed the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the education and corporate markets in mind. The updated S Note app, for instance, can recognize geometric shapes, handwritten math formulas, English alphabets and Chinese characters, turning the digital pen into an input device instead of requiring a physical keyboard.
"Our goal with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 was simple - redefine the tablet experience," Tim Baxter, President of Samsung Electronics America, said in a statement. "The S Pen offers both active content creation as well as passive content consumption, while Multiscreen capability finally enables true multitasking. For the user, the resulting experience is completely new and quite unexpected."
In its home market of South Korea, Samsung has already started gunning for enterprise clients and schools with the Galaxy Note 10.1, though it has just released the product for consumers. The company also said it will donate nearly 600 Note tablets to eight South Korean schools for educational purposes. In addition, South Korea is rolling out a $2 billion project designed to replace paper books with digital texts.
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