Google’s Nexus 7 tablet launch a month ago has literally obsoleted Amazon’s seven-inch Kindle Fire overnight. Three weeks ago, Reuters claimed Amazon was working on half a dozen new Android tablets, among them one with a larger display designed to take the iPad on the high-end.

The rumors were true as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday cleared an Amazon tablet with a larger display. Meanwhile, Samsung today launched its 10.1-inch Galaxy Note tablet with much fanfare.

It comes with a stylus (please, no jokes), has juicy hardware (a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM) plus some interesting multitasking features, such as split-screen functionality and a pop-up video player…

Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader points to an anonymous FCC submission for a mysterious device. Noting that Amazon always goes via a front company to hide the paperwork, Hoffelder speculates:

I don’t have anything beyond the label, but after looking at the dimensions I’m guessing that this is a 9.7″ or 10″ tablet. The general screen geometry is likely going to be 4:3 (like the iPad), and not widescreen like many Android tablets.

And since some of the hidden parts of the FCC paperwork will be revealed in December, this device will clearly be launched this fall.

Looks like it’s gonna be a crowded fall, with Amazon and Microsoft releasing their iPad contenders and Google possibly entering the high-end with a larger tablet (Nexus 10, anyone?)

As for other makers, not everyone seems to be down with Windows 8-powered tablets.

As pointed out by Cult of Mac, Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard will pass on Windows RT tablets for the time being, citing inability to procure enough components, which means they are unable to engineer and manufacture enough tablets for that important holiday rush.

Samsung, on the other hand, is stepping up its tablet fight with today’s high-profile launch of the 10.1-inch Galaxy Note, which ships with a stylus and boasts split-screen functionality.

The device is just 0.3-inch thick, has a five-megapixel camera on a back, a 1.9-megapixel one out the front, a  a 1280-by-800 TFT display and the controversial S-Pen stylus. It will ship running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but Samsung confirmed it will be upgradeable to the latest Jelly Bean 4.1 version.

Here’s Samsung’s walkthrough video.

The new Note will hit U.S. store shelves on August 16 (tomorrow), beginning at $499 for the 16GB model ($549 for 32GB).

The Wall Street Journal reviewer Walt Mossberg kinda likes the sleek device.

In his review, Mossberg praises the split-screen feature (“it works with a limited selection of apps, such as S Note, email and the browser”) though opining that multiple, clumsy steps to make it work could put off some folks.

Mossberg also liked a pop-out video player, but slammed the Note’s battery life, which in his tests lasted “only” seven hours and 27 minutes between charges.

His peer over at The New York Times, David Pogue, wrote that the Note “raises an inconsistent challenge”, in that Samsung’s willingness “to make bold design experiments – like adding a stylus” and “building an ecosystem of accessories and online stores to rival Apple’s” is marred with user interface inconsistencies and “a much longer list of features don’t necessarily add up to a superior product”.

For more, check out the speeds and feeds Galaxy Note comparison with the iPad.

What do you think of the new Note and upcoming iPad challengers from Amazon and other makers?

I’d say only a few companies will be able to turn any meaningful profit. The vast majority of other makers will struggle to sell enough tablets to even recoup the costs of sales, development, marketing and so forth.

Isn’t the tablet market becoming a crowded space?

  • Loopthree

    Just saw a review from The Verge.
    Looks like Samsung have ruined it with clunky software.

  • Byron Davis

    That review on the verge was full of crap. Look at engadget and you will see no slow down. That probably had a bad unit or something.

  • Stylus … That’s all I have to say…

    • Matt

      Are you that narrow minded to not see the occasional use for a stylus? This is not a stylus only based input, it is one that you can use a stylus when it makes sense. Ever try to do good quality drawings on an iPad, your finger is too large to get the precise control that you need. Sure you can zoom in and things like that, but this is a lot easier. Have you ever tried to write notes with your fingers? I know I can not write too fast with a single finger compared to a pen. Sure there are “pens” that you can use on your iPad, but the iPad will still register your hand when you put it down on the virtual paper….

      So yes, it has a stylus, but that does not mean that some people may not want that exact thing.

      • If I want to draw on a tablet I’ll use a Etch-a-Sketch… even that doesn’t need a stylus

    • FrankensteinBlack

      An optional stylus is ok because we all don’t have skinny lady fingers. Sayin…

    • One of the first things I bought when I got my iPad 2 was a stylus. I use it a lot. It works wonders in Photoshop. It is far more accurate than my finger.

      Some people like handwriting recognition and prefer that to typing. I personally would love to see crazy stylus that mimic various paintbrushes… like having something like a capacitive fan brush would be awesome.

  • A stylus? Really? When we are strongly moving toward natural language? Why do I want to cramp my hand with a stylus? Although, it is good in terms of the whole cleanliness factor. But still… And, all that multi-tasking is a drain on the battery. Enough said.

    • I bet you a hundred dollars that if Apple did this, you would think it was the greatest thing ever… but since Samsung did it, it has to suck.

      • But, the fact is – they didn’t because the company is visionary. Look – there are a number of things that bothered me about Apple – the discontinuation of MobileMe, their technically-challenged Apple TV 2.

        In the end, though, Apple provided a fix and alternative to these issues. They are not perfect and, more important, not copy-cats!

  • “If you need a stylus, you’ve already failed”

  • Damon Aldora

    I’m not sure that the fancy pen and the processor of the Note 10.1 will
    be enough to persuade me to pay that much. It doesn’t even come with a data
    plan at the moment like the new iPad, nor a good display. I’ve tried LTE on my
    Dish coworker’s Galaxy SIII with the Dish Remote Access app, and there was no
    lag when it came to streaming. I really like watching live and recorded TV
    through the Sling Adapter that’s connected to my Hopper at home on my iPad, so
    I am sure LTE would be beneficial to me whenever I want to stream or open a
    document while I’m out and about. I will try out the Note 10.1 instead to see
    how it works compared to the iPad.

  • I think you guys mean competitors, not contenders, in the article and title. 🙂
    (Other tablets aren’t contending to be iPads lol.)

  • Many apps that require writing come with different pen sizes. Your finger width has nothing to do with it!

  • seyss

    Hmmm.. first time I feel attracted to Samsumg/Android.. this split screen stuff is great. Plus it has BT file xfer, 2GB ram, and MKV/AVI/FLV/ETC support out of the box.. things that apple refuses to implement.
    But this STYLUS and NO LTE is ROUGH to swallow.

    • Android on tablets lag a lot. They can support many things that Apple doesn’t (out of box) but the main thing that we need is performance and user experience. Features came after.

  • air naji

    Looks dope I can’t lie.. But iOS 6 is definitely going to have multitasking going on.

  • Steve Jobs didn’t like Stylus as a primary thing to use a touch device.
    But as a option I think it’s great, specially for designers.

    iPad + iOS + Adobe Software + Stylus = Perfect

  • Samsung tablet looks pretty but I stay with my latest gen iPad