The Galaxy Note 10.1 is brand spanking new and the New iPad is not so new but is still the hottest tablet on the block. So which to pick? That depends on your needs; so let our comparison guide you. As ever, it's a battle between iOS and Android, and if you already have a preferred OS, the choice is easy, but I know many of you like to have one of each- an iPhone and an Android tablet or vice versa. Both tablets are priced starting at $499 for the 16 gig model, and both are approximately 10 inches and have touch screens, but the similarities end there.
iOS vs. Android
Let's not start a flame war. Both have their merits, with iOS being extremely fast and stable (assuming well behaved downloaded apps) and Android being the more computer-like and customizable. As ever, the New iPad is the perfect choice if you want a tablet that offers very easy media consumption and fast performance. Apple streamlines the OS and controls the hardware, guaranteeing a good amount of stability and responsiveness. Android allows for customization of the home screens and launcher, and is great for putting information from stock quotes to your calendar up front. Android gives you a file manager and the ability to use external storage, be it microSD cards or flash drives as well as USB peripherals like game controllers and keyboards. If your idea of hell is navigating a file manager and you'd rather have iTunes handle putting apps and files on the tablet, then the iPad is for you. If you prefer something that behaves a bit more like your Windows or Mac OS X computer, then Android is it.
You already know the winner of this round. The New iPad's Retina IPS display runs at 2048 x 1536 resolution, and that means very high pixel density. That translates into super-sharp text and eye-popping graphics. Those of you who are under 30 and have good eyesight will particularly see and appreciate the difference. But those who have weak eyes may also feel less strain looking at the Retina display. The difference between full HD and HD displays is subtle but real.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is no slouch though. Samsung's PLS display is bright, sharp and extremely colorful. The Note 10.1's display is superior to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 display, and it's sharper and less cartoony colorful than the original Tab 10.1. Viewing angles are almost as good as the New iPad's, and are more than adequate.
Winner: New iPad
Samsung has caught a lot of flak thanks to the Apple vs. Samsung judgment in court, but Samsung's the one who's though outside the box and delivered adventurous and compelling new features. While the New iPad is the same old iPad with a better display and a faster CPU/GPU combo than the iPad 2, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has a host of innovative new features. The most striking is the digital pen and Wacom digitizer. The tablet comes with a very precise pen that offers 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. As you'll see in our comparison smackdown video, this means more natural writing when taking notes and a superior drawing and painting experience. Capacitive styli just don't cut it- they feel like finger painting in comparison.
Samsung's floating video player, where a video can float in a resizable window anywhere is also very cool. There's SmartStay (as seen on the Samung Galaxy S III smartphone) that uses the front camera to see if you're looking at the tablet so it won't turn the display off when you're still reading or watching. And perhaps best of all, there's a new multi-tasking experience with a selection of apps that float in small windows so you can use the calculator or view your email inbox while in another app. Side-by-side multitasking lets you use your choice of 6 apps in split screen windows so you can take notes while viewing a web page or edit a dock in the MS Office compatible suite while watching a video. Nice.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
There are plenty of additional comparison points, from display aspect ratio (Samsung is better for video playback and the New iPad is better for books and PDFs), to battery life, build materials and 3G/4G. So hunker down and watch our Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 vs. New iPad Comparison Smackdown video.