DAY ONE WITH THE GALAXY NOTE 2 FROM AT&T - IT BEGINS
This is not going to be a nerd post. No talk of gigabytes, gigahertz, or processing cores. I'm going to attempt to speak normal English and tell you all of my initial thoughts about the Samsung Galaxy Note II, no holds barred!
The package arrived today, and I was really anticipating what my first thoughts would be just pulling it out of the box and firing it up. I was still hanging on the memory of disliking the size when I handled the non-functional display unit in Ohio.
After I ripped the pagage open and unveiled the device, I powered it up and it was love at... second sight. I barely got the Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system loaded, and I was already in gadget heaven. Any thoughts of "it's too big" were immedeately erased.
Looking at the gorgeous jumbonormous screen overshadowed the size. I quickly isntalled my Google account and started downloading my favorite apps. The first app I went for was Handcent, because I wanted to know if I could text on such a gigantic monstrosity of a smartphone.
I pulled out the S Pen, and used the Samsung keyboard to swipe words in the same fashion that the Swype keyboard functions. The S Pen glided across the screen with absolutely no friction. It felt as smooth as my finger.
But when tapping out letters or swiping words with the S Pen, I enjoyed an accuracy that I've been craving since the days of owning my Palm Treo 650. Fat-fingering letters seemed so archaic after maneuvering around applications and entering text with the S Pen.
The next thing I did was to test out the alternative smaller keyboard. It's a setting that comes with the Samsung keyboard, where it shrinks down the size of the keyset and moves everything to the left or right so you can reach all of the keys with your thumb. It worked like a charm and "reduced" the size of the device.
Then something happened that I wasn't expecting. A popup note told me that the S Pen stylus was detected while texting, and asked if I wanted to use natural handwriting input! I said "yes" and the keyboard was replaced with a gridlike note pad. I could write text messages by writing with the S Pen, even using cursive lettering. It changed my entire texting experience.
Next it was time to play with the S Pen and the "Paper Artist" app. This is where I discovered how sensitive the S Pen is to the pressure you are exerting while drawing. You can actually sketch with the effect you would have using a pencil. Press hard, heavy line. Press lightly, light line.
I loaded all of the typical social media applications, and the experience was quite a bit more enjoyable with the huge screen. In fact, Pinterest just looked glorious on the 5.3" 16:9 aspect ratio screen. Oops, I apologize for that techno-nerd outburst! Anyway, they basically looked a lot better on the larger screen.
YouTube was a real treat. I could probably sit for hours and watch video content on this device. It's going to be hard to go back to my seemingly tiny Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone after watching video after video on the "big screen".
Something that was absolutely noticeable was the speed that apps would load, and the ability to quickly jump from one app to another without hestitation. What they are packing under the hood of this hog does make a significant difference load time and functionality of apps.
I made my first phone call, and I didn't feel as silly as all the tech writers swore I would thanks to the phablet size form factor. The phone call was extremely clear, loud enough for my aging ears to hear, and comfortable in the way it fit to my face. That's a biggie for me.
Using the device through the night, I found myself using the S Pen more than my fingers. One big advantage of this is not being forced to constantly clean the screen of greasy finger butter. I'm very obsessive/compulsive about cleaning my smartphone display, so use of the S Pen frees me from my disorder.
I previously thought I could get away with using the fat-tipped soft rubber styluses that are on the market, and not "need" something like an S Pen. That has all changed. The S Pen is sharp, accurate, and exact. And since it has a hard tip, it glides. The rubber styluses that are made to mimick fingers tent to start gripping and skidding on the screen after a few days of heavy use.
I could be dreaming this one up, but it seems that the voice input on the Samsung Galaxy Note II is far superior than the Galaxy S2 that I own. "S Voice" must work a lot better with a more powerful CPU and a higher amount of RAM. I've heard reports that S Voice is not quite as functionally efficient and accurate as Apple's Siri, but it is a tremendous improvement on this device.
Surfing the net on this device is ridiculous. And I mean that in a positive way. The screen is so vivid, and colors so rich, that all of my favorite tech blog sites seem to pop right off the page. I would say that my Internet use would be quite a bit higher using the Note than my 4.3" smartphone.
My last overall initial thought is that the Galaxy Note II feels like a small tablet, yet it is fine as a smartphone. I would have no need to purchase a 7" (or bigger) tablet device if I owned this phablet. I can see myself going with my plan to ditch the tablet idea and use a phablet, thus saving a small pile of money.
I'll be getting into more of the actual details and advanced features this device has very soon. And believe me, there are several significant features you need to know about. But thus far, I'm 100% impressed and pleased with the Galaxy Note 2 after 7 hours of general use.
Stay tuned for more blog posts, audio, and video. Comments? Please share in the Disqus section below!
Hit the link now and check out the details, and save a chunk of money on this device that retails for $299 under contract!