An Initial Look At The Samsung GALAXY Note
If you have ever thought your mobile tablet is a tad too big whilst your smartphone is a tad too small you might consider a device that sits somewhere in-between and for purposes of this article I am going to refer to this size of device as a smartlet – a mid-sized tablet device that can make phone calls.
One such example of a smartlet, which I was sent recently to take a look at it, is the Android based Samsung GALAXY Note. In this article we will be taking an initial look at the GALAXY Note based on just a few days usage; this will be followed up later when I have spent more time with the device.
First up let us take a moment to look at some of the key specifications of the Note. The thing that really sets this device apart is the size of the screen at a roomy 5.3” with 1280×800 resolution. The display itself is a HD Super AMOLED touch screen whilst the current operating system is ably powered by Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).
The GALAXY Note is powered by a 1.4 GHz dual core processor, on-board there is 16GB memory and a microSD slot which can add up to 32GB more storage, and the battery is a whopping 2,500 mAh Li-on charged by a sensible Micro USB connection. The dimensions of the device are 146.85mm x 82.95mm x 9.65mm and it feels quite light at just 178g which makes it just a tad deeper than the iPhone 4S and just 38g heavier whilst it is around .85mm deeper than the, Wi-Fi only, iPad 2 but considerably lighter by around 423g. As another size and weight comparison the Note is much smaller and lighter than the Amazon Kindle (Kindle Keyboard 3G).
Whilst the GALAXY Note touch screen is capacitive the device does also include an innovative built-in 2mm S Pen (Advanced Smart Pen) which, after using for a little while, does really bring something useful to the smartlet experience. In particular my young daughter, who loves drawing, is really taken with the S Pen and the S Memo note-taking/drawing application available on the Note.
The S Pen is innovative in that it is not what you might initially expect. As the screen is a capacitive screen it works by detecting and utilising the electric field in your finger tips so with this in mind you might expect a stylus to be a capacitive stylus but instead the S Pen uses an alternative technology (possibly induction based though I need to look into this more) which allows it to bring additional functionality to the stylus such as a finger tip and pressure sensitive (128-levels) drawing.
The S Pen also includes a button which can activate additional features for example: pressing the button on the S Pen and double-tapping the screen launches the S Memo lite application, whilst pressing the button and stroking the pen up will bring up the menu. A particularly useful application is to screen capture by pressing the button whilst tap and holding the pen on the screen.
The Super AMOLED screen offers colours which, to me at least, seem a lot more vivid than those previously seen on smart phone devices whilst text appears crisp and clear. Looking at the device from a wide angle the colours do appear to take on a slight hint of a green or blue tinge however when the device is in front, during usage, the colours are clear, consistent and bright.
The power/unlock button is located on the side of the unit which means when in a pocket it is less likely to be pressed, whilst the volume controls buttons are on the opposite side of the unit. The 8 mega pixel camera is centred on the back of the device which is a real help particularly for us left handers and the headphone socket is on top. On the front of the device is the home screen button and two touch sensitive pad buttons (menu and back buttons).
Android is a joy to use. My previous favourite Android based smart phones have been the HTC Hero and the Motorola Milestone and the user interface experience just seems to get better and better with each refresh. The lines do seem to be blurring a little between the Apple iOS based interface and the Android experience and both have their own particular nuances so I will not get into a deep debate about which interface is best – both work just fine.
After an initial experience the Samsung GALAXY Note seems a fascinating proposition. I have to say my early initial thoughts were that the Note was either an over-sized smartphone or an undersized tablet however, after using the device for quite a few days, it has started to grow on me and has been the device I have chosen to pick up when going out.
The size of the GALAXY Note means it still fits into a pocket and yet the added screen estate is like ordering a slice of tasty looking cake from the deli and receiving a double-helping.
Electronic mail is made much more usable with the Note as the increase in screen size allows much more information to be displayed than a conventional smartphone whilst the Flash support makes for a richer web experience. Mind you, the cheeky email whistle notification is something to get used to – the first few times had me looking around to see who was doing it!
I will be writing more about my experiences with the Samsung GALAXY Note so be sure to check back, in the meantime for more information head over to the Samsung GALAXY Note website.