Four and Half Years On

Samsung Agonistes

(That’s a really neat reference to a Milton poem by the way, so laugh, damn you) – Samsung, the South Korean powerhouse seem to have emerged from the last four years in better shape than any of Apple’s major hardware rivals. They’ve experimented with and advanced the cause of OLED and AMOLED displays, they’ve pushed the hardware in all kinds of directions, they’ve aggressively stalked the iPad since its release, to the point of plagiarism some would argue, and they have survived. They’ve done more than survive, they’ve thrived. Thriven. Throve. Threft. Thrivvled. Thropwindled. Wa’evz, girlfriend.

Galaxy Quest

The Galaxy tablet is generally agreed to be the best response to the iPad that anyone has yet managed to come up with. It has hardly had the same kind of seismic impact on the worlds of publishing, journalism, design, medicine and education, and can only be regarded as a follower not a leader, but if your heart is hardened against Apple you could do a lot worse.

A review! At last, an actual review!

I have spent the past week trying to use and trying to love the Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000. This device, you might remember, caused quite a lot of hoopla in October 2011 when it was announced and released. Is it a pad, is it a phone? No, it’s a Note.

Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000 © Samsung

Size sighs

The 5.3 inch screen, which is exactly yay big by yay big, notably (notably!) falls between the size of an iPad and iPhone, though it’s closer to a phone than a tablet. You can exactly fit two Notes next to each other on an iPad screen and another will lie on top lengthways. I would say the display is a third bigger than an iPhone and three times smaller than an iPad. I’m sure if I was better at geometry I could work out the difference exactly, but that will have to do. Interestingly enough, everyone is predicting the new iPhone 5 will have a bigger screen, but not this big, you can be certain.

Unwrapping the Galaxy Bar

Personally, I find the size annoying. I can’t type as quickly on it as I can on either an iPad or an iPhone (despite Swiftkey, of which more later) or the HTC XL, Lumia 800 or BlackBerry (bless) Bold that are my current PIUs, Phones In Use.

It certainly comes with a top spec. 1.4 GHz Dual Core processor, 1080p video (full HD in other words, like the iPad version 3), two cameras (8 MBP on the back, 2MBP on the front for face-to-face calls) video and photo editing apps, any number of the dreary, useless and annoying “hubs” that everyone except us, the users, thinks we need – apps that ‘unify’ contacts, events, reading habits and notes between Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts for example. They all lead to confusion and annoyance and duplicated or maddeningly overstocked address books and they must stop it at once.

The Super AMOLED display is gorgeous. At 1280 x 800 it’s not up to Apple Retina’s 2048 x 1536 resolution standards, but still marvellous with 285 pixels per inch, which gives a smooth warm highly engaging (or ‘immersive’ as we are forced by law to say these days) experience. The Note boasts the loveliest opening lock screen in history. And…

Woah there!!!

It has a stylus!!!! What? Have they run mad? Don’t they know what Steve Jobs did when asked why the iPhone didn’t offer a stylus? He raised up his two hands and said, “Nature took millions and millions of years to provide us with ten perfect styluses. Why insult her by adding another, less efficient one?” He may have said ‘styli’, but I doubt it…

The stylus is styleless…

Well Samsung is having none of this. The Galaxy Note offers a stylus with a tiny (and almost completely inaccessible and scream-inducing) button on it that uses Wacom pressure-sensitive touch-pad technology in order to add … what exactly? Complicated and elaborate ways of screen-capturing (something Android is really, really bad at) and performing other mundane tasks that would be better done by fingers and little menus or gestures. I quite see that an artistically aware stylus would be useful on the odd occasion one is moved to write beautifully or to sketch and draw, but otherwise – forget it. Perhaps Samsung are just desperately trying to add their patented ways of doing things to avoid all this hideous, upsetting patent lawyering that is making us all so cross and unhappy.

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This blog was posted in Techblog

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