Surface RT vs Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Vs Paul Briden 13:56, 15 Nov 2012

Microsoft's transforming Surface RT takes a swing at Samsung's S-Pen toting Galaxy Note 10.1 in our tablet comparison

We take a look at how the Surface RT stacks up against Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1


Surface RT - 274.6x172x9.4mm, 680g

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - 262x180x8.9mm, 597g

The Surface RT has quite a distinctive shape, being far more angular than similarly sized tablets from other manufacturers.

The edges taper inwards from the front to the back panel and the slate measures 9.4mm thick. It’s also made out of an unusual material - PVD treated magnesium - which gives the device a feeling of solidity.

Other characteristic features include the thin but robustly implemented kick-stand, which sits flush to the back of the tablet.

When Microsoft said it operates like a car door it wasn’t kidding, although it’s not the click that does it, it’s the reassuring resistance when opening and closing.

We also have to mention the two optional keyboard covers as, despite being an optional extra, they’re really integral to the hybrid design concept.

The Type Cover is the better of the two. It’s ever-so-slightly thicker and only comes in black, but it’s much closer to a real keyboard with proper key travel.

The Touch Cover is only really viable for the lightest of typing duties, it’s thinner and comes in a range of colours, but there’s no travel to the touch-sensitive keys. Input is certainly better than using an onscreen touch-keyboard but it’s nowhere near as good as the Type Cover.

Both versions come with a fully functioning trackpad, which is a nice touch.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 sits with the rest of the company’s recent Galaxy range, with an emphasis on curviness, white or black bodywork and silver accents. The overall shape is more rectangular than the iPad, but still curvier than the Surface.

Dead-centre screen positioning and bezel width is similar to the Surface and in both cases, by tablet standards, the bezels are relatively thin, without being so thin as to make gripping the devices awkward.

It’s a move that makes both tablets look very modern and stylish.

Unfortunately for the Note 10.1, it’s also inherited the Galaxy range’s slippery and tacky plastic build, which isn’t exactly flimsy – there’s no flex in the chassis – but just comes across as a bit cheap for such an expensive premium model.

Winner – Surface RT


The Surface RT has a 10.6-inch LCD multitouch display with Microsoft’s ClearType HD technology and a 1366x768 resolution.

That only results in a pixel density of 148 pixels-per-inch (ppi), which is surprising because in practical use the picture quality is quite impressive.

Text is particularly easy to read, but images and video show up well too. Colour, contrast, black depth and brightness are very good indeed.

As the name implies, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has a 10.1-inch display, which is a PLS LCD with a 1280x800 pixel resolution at 149ppi.

Picture quality is reasonable, though we think the Surface RT does a better job here.

Winner – Surface RT


Microsoft’s Surface RT has options for 32GB and 64GB of onboard storage plus MicroSDXC capability for cards up to 64GB.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is in the same scenario, but also adds the option of a lower-end 16GB variant to the mix.

We consider this one a draw.

Winner – Draw

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