Betting on a stylus and software to take advantage of it, Samsung launched its Galaxy Note 10.1 Wi-Fi tablet for the U.S. at a press event in New York City on Wednesday. The 10.1-inch Android(s goog) tablet is similar to prior Samsung Galaxy Tab devices, but it’s called the Note for a reason: support for digital ink with the included stylus, known as an S-Pen.
The new Note also has visual redesign cues that make it look slightly different from Apple’s iPad(s aapl), which could help the company avoid any additional lawsuits from Apple; at least on this particular tablet. The edges of the slate are wrapped with metal and include speaker grilles on the left and right when held in landscape mode. Between those elements and the stylus, few will likely confuse this with an iPad.
Samsung’s quad-core Exynos processor clocked at 1.4 GHz powers the new Galaxy Note tablet and is paired with 2 GB of memory. Android 4.0.4 is covered by Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. A 16 GB version will cost $499 while a 32 GB model is $100 more. The company expects to launch models with mobile broadband in the future although announcements of such products are likely to come from the carriers.
I like what Samsung is doing with the new Note. Instead of simply adding a stylus to a fairly generic large tablet, the company is working hard to make digital ink a key enabler for the device. The pen is pressure sensitive plus the slate has improved palm rejection. And it’s pushing the envelope when it comes to multitasking: The Galaxy Note comes with a half-dozen programs that work in a special half-screen mode. With it, you can show and interact with two applications at the same time on a single screen.