Another of their unique ideas is “tip to zoom” – fortunately this hopeless and deranged idea is not the only way, good old pinching is still available, otherwise the whole apparatus would be hurled into the sea.
It got better
At first I was going to write an absolutely blistering attack on this piece of kit because within two days of using it, it was telling me that I had run seriously low on storage memory and that I must move everything onto an SD card. There was a 4GB SD fitted and all the apps I’d downloaded from the Android Market (now called Google Play) were already there. This was baffling and maddening. Eventually I bit the bullet and did a factory restart. Since then I must confess things haven’t been so bad.
Not so bad, but not so great either. The screen goes black and unresponsive every five or six attempts I make to access an app. It refuses to sync Twitter or Facebook through its hub, so I have downloaded the official apps at the risk of incurring another “memory low” warning. The Mail app, as it always is with Android, is inferior to Google’s Gmail web app.
The device cost a shedload of money – £700 to be precise, though of course it’ll cost nothing like that if you lock yourself into a deal with a network provider.
The screen is gorgeous.
The notebook app is so cute. You can do nice drawing and everything, so long as your thumb can find the tit on the bloody stylus.
It looks lovely when it works. Ravishing.
It comes loaded. Polaris office suite, photo and video editing software – the works. The excellent Kies Air allows you impressive and intuitive wireless file management through your web browser. Although infuriatingly it doesn’t seem to recognise the Java on any Apple browser. I tried with Safari, Chrome and Firefox and in each case Kiese Air told me that I couldn’t batch upload to the device unless I installed Java. Java is already installed and waiting to be commanded, so that is something Samsung and Kies should look at. To move any amount of music or pictures singly is not an enterprise lightly to be undertaken and I don’t see why one should shell out on a specialised Mac to Android syncing programme. Lord knows I’ve spent enough money on Mark Space and the Missing Sync over the years… usually at the cost of hair, nails and sanity.
Also, as usual with Android, all the navigation, mapping, ebook and news reading, note recording and voice control (which won’t give Siri sleepless nights) apps that you could want have been thrown in, together with FM radio and more toys and gismos that I could list here.
Despite all that Samsung’s offering is – as my old history teacher used to say – a long way far short of being good enough. The Note runs the Gingerbread distribution of Android although Ice Cream Sandwich is expected soon. To be fair, down here in NZ my reliable HTC XL hasn’t got round to ICS yet either, but the XL remains much less prone to hanging apps with apologetic notes or just going black and vacant than the distinctly neurotic Galaxy, which has all the glossy good looks of a racehorse, but unfortunately behaves as if it has some of the more highly strung and uncontrollable characteristics that go with thoroughbreds too.
I, I – it’s Swiftkey
I really hope Apple and others don’t think this form factor is the future, because it has taken me back to frustrated one finger prodding. This despite using the excellent Swiftkey, an absolutely essential add-on for any Android device. It is noticeable that Swiftkey’s installation routine decides that the Note is a tablet, not a smartphone and bids you install its (one dollar pricier) tablet version. I wouldn’t call the Note a tablet at all, it is quite clearly a large phone.
Swiftkey, incidentally, which speeds up the typing process by very impressive heuristic techniques and neat semantic guessing and disambiguation, teaches one the lamentable lesson that most English speakers start most sentences, phrases and sub-clauses with “I”. One does not use the word often oneself and it therefore strikes one as a little unfair that one’s texts and emails so often end up littered with implications of egocentricity. One types away not noticing that the app is opening almost every clause with that rude word, ‘I’.