Review: 12-inch Galaxy Note Pro is too big for its own good
Samsung's mega tablet wants to be both a tablet and a laptop, but it's too awkward for either purposeFollow @MobileGalen
You'll also find a keyboard with lots of markings on its keys, as well as extra keys. I found the extra markings distracting at first but got used to them. One value is that they show you what special character you can get if you long-tap a key; Apple has long had that capability in iOS, but you had to know what symbols each key could insert, as there was no way to display a map of them as in OS X or, now, in the Note Pro 12.2.
I also like the inclusion of Ctrl keys that let you use standard Windows shortcuts for Select All, Copy, Cut, and Paste. When you're doing heavy keyboard work, it's nice not to have to interrupt your typing to use a selection gesture or gesture-invoked menu. Likewise, I like the inclusion of cursor keys for the same reason -- plus, you can use them to Shift-select text!
The rest of the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is pretty standard for Android tablets: There's a MicroSD slot for additional storage and OK-quality built-in speakers. The Note Pro runs the latest Android version, 4.4 KitKat, along with the standard Google apps, the standard Samsung apps, and the standard Samsung UI extensions.
The Note Pro 12.2, like the other members of the Note Pro lineup, uses yet another new charge-and-sync cable plug -- Samsung is notorious for changing the sync cable frequently. But the good news is that the Note Pro is using a standard cable, the new MicroUSB 3.0 type, giving hope that Samsung will finally adopt a common standard across all its devices going forward.
A few more quibbles
The included manual is unreadable, thanks to tiny type on medium-brown paper (it's meant to look recycled, so it's the color of a paper grocery bag -- a triumph of marketing over usability).
And due to the raised Home button, it takes little pressure to invoke the Google Now voice assistant. Even when the Note Pro was in its box asleep, the pressure from being in my backpack caused Google Now to keep warbling. Because Samsung did not loan InfoWorld a Book Case for the Note Pro 12.2, I can't say whether that cover would prevent such accidental, battery-draining Google Now invocations in transit -- or exacerbate them. I suggest you power down the Note Pro to be safe when carrying it in a backpack or case.
The Note Pro 12.2 makes a good case for buying a laptop or a smaller tablet
The $750 Note Pro 12.2 model has 32GB of storage, and the $850 model has 64GB. The 32GB version with a built-in LTE radio costs $850; only Verizon offers it today, but Samsung expects other carriers to offer versions for their networks later this year. The Note Pro 12.2 is pretty pricey, especially when you add the $80 you need to spend on the Book Cover. A comparable 10-inch Galaxy Note 10.1 costs $150 less, so you're paying a lot for that too-large screen. A comparable 10-inch iPad Air also costs $150 less, and it weighs 60 percent of what the Note Pro 12.2 does, though the iPad Air lacks a stylus.