Samsung’s massive Note Pro tablet priced for Australia, and we’re going hands-on

For some people, the 10.1 inch tablets available today just aren’t big enough. They want something bigger. Samsung, though, appears happy to cater for them with the release of 12.2 inch tablet. Is it big enough?

Built for people who think bigger really is better, Samsung’s Note Pro is the next evolution of a tablet, raising the size from the 7, 8, and 10 inch models we’ve seen thus far, and introducing something much much bigger, with a 12.2 inch screen.

In a way, it’s like holding the screen out of a laptop, as if you’ve removed the heavy part of an Ultrabook and just decided to take the screen with you, especially since you’re holding a 12 inch display.

The Note Pro 12.2 is so big, it's almost as big as the 15 inch screen of our laptop. Almost.

For Samsung, this 12 inch display is actually 12.2 inches, and packs in a screen resolution higher than that of Full HD with 2560×1600 showing here. With these two factors, you’ll find a pixel clarity of 247 pixels per inch, not far from what Apple’s Retina-classed MacBook Pro 13 shows (226ppi, and bigger is better).

Two versions will be made, with the differences based on specs and connection options. If you opt for the WiFi only version, you’ll technically find eight cores of power, with a quad core 1.9GHz chip working alongside a quad-core 1.3GHz processor, but only connectivity on WiFi and Bluetooth.

However, if you’re more into having mobile connectivity where ever you go, the 4G LTE version comes equipped with the same chip used in the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.

Outside of these differences, everything else is mostly the same, with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, microSD slot for expanding on the space inside, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, a USB 3.0 connector, 8 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, and Android 4.4 “KitKat.”

Also included is that Samsung S-Pen Galaxy Note devices always have, meaning you can write, draw, scribble, and do anything you might use a pen for, except digitally and on a screen.

Hands on with the device, and it’s one interesting tablet.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition sitting inside the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 inch tablet.

Aesthetically, it’s basically a big Galaxy Note 10.1, and a massive Galaxy Note 3, with a screen up front, while the back of the tablet sticks with Samsung’s latest idea of making plastic feel more like leather, and as such adopts exactly what the Galaxy Note 3 had, a fake leather back, complete with fake stitching.

While the effect on the Note 3 came off feeling a little tacky, on the bigger Note Pro, it somehow works, and provides something more substantial to hold on to rather than the typically slick glossy greasy plastic we’re used to feeling on Android tablets.

It is a little heavier than you might expect, and at 750 grams, isn’t easy to carry with one hand, thereby making portable note taking a little more difficult than the “Note” name might suggest.

That said, when you’re comfortable, you’ll find that Samsung has made it possible to take notes in the same fashion, just with a bigger screen at your disposal.

For us, this means messier notes. Bigger notes, but messier notes all the same, but we’re at least glad to see the multi-window functionality is here, too.

Samsung's Note Pro: one of the only Android tablets capable of letting you chat to your friends, browse the web, and watch kitten and hedgehog videos all from the one screen.

Evolved from what started in the Note 2, you can now load apps in side by side, and unlike the phones, you can load more than two. We had three running comfortably at points, though when we tried to get four going on our WiFi Note Pro, the system began to lag.

Unfortunately, you can’t just load in any app you want, and they’ll have to be approved by Samsung, which at the moment means apps such as contacts, email, internet browser, Chrome, Gmail, Maps, video player, and S Note among others, but no Twitter or Facebook, for instance. A new feature we haven’t seen is the ability to safe app layouts, so if you like having your Google Hangouts open on the bottom, Chrome browser on the right, and YouTube in the top corner regularly, you can save the layout and get it working quickly.

Grabbing the multi-window apps almost feels like training for Windows 8, too, as you’ll have to swipe from the right side to pull up the small menu, which is the exact gesture needed for Windows 8’s settings and Start menu.

Also in the Note Pro is an extension of the Flipboard swipe-up screen (above) we first saw in the Note 3, and now you can control it yourself.

We first saw this at CES and back then it looked as if Samsung had developed a new interface for Android, but that’s not what it is. Rather, it’s just an evolution of the Flipboard interface from the phones with a wee bit more control.

Like the multi-window stuff, you can move screens around, choosing various topics like news, business, sports, and the like, and because it’s Flipboard, it can  read your social pages, with connections to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much beyond this, and you can’t actually use social media or post updates, nor can you add many applications or widgets to this section. Really, it’s just a slightly more configurable version of Samsung’s Flipboard screen.

Outside of these features, it is basically a big Galaxy Note tablet, and the biggest you can find.

On the bus, it felt like we were watching videos on a portable TV, though one we could carry in a backpack comfortably. When we played games, it was like carrying around a portable console, albeit one with Android games. And surfing the web, it’s a big experience you can browse on your lap.

It won’t be for everyone, mind you, but if you like your content and media big and mobile, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro is worth checking out. Just be sure you’re good for the price, because with a recommended retail price of $1099 for the WiFi model and $1249 for the 4G LTE variant, these are not cheap tablets at all.