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A first look at Samsung's new 10-inch tablet

Samsung announced its latest tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 on Wednesday. Naturally we had to take it for a test spin.

As someone who has been alternating between a Nexus 7 and a third-generation iPad lately, I found the Galaxy Note 10.1 to feel chintzy, to say the least. It has a reassuring weight to it, like the iPad, but it lacks the quality feel of either of the other two tablets — likely thanks to its plastic-y back. It feels inexplicably cheap for something so solid.

Anthony Quintano/ NBC News

Odd exterior aside, the Galaxy Note 10.1 certainly appears to have all the right guts — a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and so on. Yet for some reason it feels jittery, as if it needs a second to think about certain actions such as scrolling. Of course, this annoyance might be an issue of the past once the device is upgraded to Android Jelly Bean, which is brisk and speedy, thanks to a series of tweaks dubbed "Project Butter."

The tablet's multi-screen capabilities were definitely showcased when Samsung announced the device. This is what true multi-tasking is, reporters were told. Unlike with other tablets, you won't need to toggle back and forth between apps on the Galaxy Note 10.1. Instead you can use two side-by-side, at the same time. 

Anthony Quintano/ NBC News

While this sounds like a great feature in theory, it's not always perfect in practice. Sometimes having two apps open is just plain messy and confusing, especially if two different documents are involved.

The tablet's other distinguishing feature, the S-Pen, is also a mixed bag. It is much more pleasant to use than its counterpart on the Galaxy Note smartphone, but it's easy to forget that it exists unless you are very specifically inside a drawing app.

Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America, and Travis Merrill, director of Samsung's Galaxy Tab division, emphasized to NBC News that the digital pen is not intended to be something you need — explaining away the tool's forgettable nature.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 (left) next to the third-generation iPad (right).Anthony Quintano/ NBC News

Ah, well. At least the pen's pretty fun to use within Adobe Touch. Really fun, actually — I spent way too much time doodling during a meeting earlier in the day.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 will be available in 16GB and 32GB versions which will be priced at $499 and $549, respectively. After a couple of hours with the tablet, I wouldn't suggest running to a store just yet, but we'll see how that opinion changes when we do a full review of the device soon.

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