Samsung Galaxy Note II Review - Feast Your Eyeballs On This


I spent an entire day focusing on one single aspect of the Samsung Galaxy Note II... the display. I did this by watching movies, videos, and viewing my favorite blog sites. Here are my thoughts.

First and foremost, I'm hooked to the 5.5" diagonal size of the Galaxy Note II. I don't feel I can go back to "small" now. Viewing content on a phablet is the only way to live. And with the 1280x720 HD display this thing is packing, you can't do much better for your eye's pleasure.

For this smartphone, Super AMOLED = Super DELICIOUS display! The colors are very vivid, the contrast is amazing, and the overall balance is just right for reproducing reality. It actually makes it better, in fact. It's not overdone at all, but just takes video to another level.

Watching YouTube videos was a blast. The longest one I viewed was 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was a graphics-intense type of presentation, and it gave me goosebumps. It was as if I were watching a miniature LED TV. I enjoyed it just as much. And with headphones on, the experience was even better.

The other activitiy that my eyeballs thoroughly enjoyed was viewing my favorite tech blog sites. Just sitting the Galaxy Note II flat on the table and thumbing through Engadget and TechCrunch was enough to make me get emotional. Lucky for me, I had a box of Kleenex nearby. It was just a beautiful and touching geek experience.

And not to beat a dead horse, multitasking on the Galaxy Note II takes this smartphone to a level above all. Surfing through my pile of emails with a floating video window open is a dream-come-true for someone with ADD/HD of my magnetude. I will truly miss this feature.

So here's the bottom line, folks... if you enjoy consuming video and blog content on your smartphone, and if viewing such content is high on your list of most-frequent activities, then the Galaxy Note II is a complete no-brainer. Period.

Until they find a way for a geek to pack a 60" LED TV in your pocket with a portable battery, the Note II is the way to go.

Carlton Flowers
Note Lover


Get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy Note II at the lowest possible price through Amazon Wireless! Prices starting at only $174.99 for new individual accounts signing a 2-year contract.

Hit the link now and check out the details, and save a chunk of money on this device that retails for $299 under contract!


Samsung Galaxy Note II Report Continues - More Discoveries


Continuing on with my review and test of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, there is one thing I mentioned previously that has to be one of the biggest most usable features of this device...

Popup windows.

Having the ability to open up individual floating internet windows makes this phablet more valuable than anything else I have tried. As far as I know, you can't do this on any other smartphone. I'm not even sure that you can do this on another tablet.

Multitasking on a smartphone is not all that great of an experience. If you have a good multi-core processor and a lot of RAM, it can be okay. Sometimes when you switch from one application to another, then return to the first, it will "forget" where it was and return to the start screen of the app.

I don't see that happening as often with the Galaxy Note II. But the biggest multitasking benefit of the Note II is opening up a window that is small in size, which floats above your active screen. That means I can watch a video from YouTube or a website while surfing through my long list of emails.

That is what I call "true" multitasking, not just the ability to switch from one app to another. I want to be able to stack them up and do two things at once. The Galaxy Note II is the only smartphone that gives this functionality.

The second thing I discovered in the past few days is the amazing camera app. When I first used the camera, I didn't think it was working. I kept tapping the shudder button thinking it wasn't activating. After pressing it several times, I noticed that I had twenty pictures in storage!

Instead of tapping the button and getting a pause, then the fake camera shudder sound, the Galaxy Note II snaps the picture almost instantly. And it's ready for the next one right off the bat. I would attribute this to the quad core processor and the gigantic pile of RAM installed in this device.

There is a tremendous difference between the lag time of hitting the button and the picture snapping on my Samsung Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Note II. One you have to wait for, the other is instantaneous. You miss a lot of photo opportunities when you have to wait for the camera to "catch up". Taking pics with the Note II takes it to another level.

On the topic of the camera, there is one more bonus feature that is well worth discussing. It's the ability to shoot MMS video from the front-facing camera for text messages. You cannot take MMS videos with a Samsung Galaxy S2 with the front cam. It doesn't even give you the option.

But on the Note II (and also the Galaxy S3, by the way), when you hit the camera flip icon you are given the same menu choices as the rear camera. You would think this feature would be the same across all Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices, but I guess it's not the operating system. It's in the ROM of the phone itself. So that's a huge plus if you prefer to communicate via MMS video on text messages.

So that's all we have for the most recent fun little discoveries with the Galaxy Note II from Samsung. Stay tuned for more, and share your stories in the comments section below!

Carlton Flowers
Phablet Explorer


Get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy Note II at the lowest possible price through Amazon Wireless! Prices starting at only $174.99 for new individual accounts signing a 2-year contract.

Hit the link now and check out the details, and save a chunk of money on this device that retails for $299 under contract!



Samsung Galaxy Note II Review - More S Pen Tricks!


If you can't tell, I'm probably headed towards an all-out recommendation for the Samsung Galaxy Note II. I have fallen in love with the device, and I'm discovering new tricks each day of my test.

I thought I was done reporting about the S Pen, but I have more to share! The S Pen has so many features I may not be able to cover them all before my review period expires. So let's talk about some more super cool things that this amazing stylus can do for us.

In the last article, we talked about hovering. I have to talk about this in more detail. I love the hovering feature of the S Pen because it gives you the power of a mouse. This is not something you can benefit from with any regular tablet or smartphone.

When you hover the S Pen a half inch or less above the screen, the extra digitizer layer for the stylus will detect it and float a small circular cursor on the screen. This has many uses that i am thrilled about.

First and foremost, it solves one problem I have had with my regular smartphone. That problem is forgetting which icons stand for "copy" and "clipboard". I am constantly selecting "clipboard" to copy and paste a phone number or name, only to have to start over again because I hit the wrong icon.

With the Galaxy Note II S Pen, I can hover above the icon before selecting it. When you hover, a small popup will tell you what the function of the icon is. There's no more guesswork with small icons that are not labeled on the screen when you have this feature.

Something else this crazy little thing does... pen gestures! Hold the magic button down and make certain pen strokes, and you get shortcuts. Make a carrot shape (^) and WiFi turns off. Make a star (*) and mute activates. Make a pound sign (#) and the phone number pad pops up. There are even more than this. But gestures create an entirely new smartphone experience.

Back to the popup windows and using 2 applications at one time, the accuracy of the S Pen is invaluable. A fat finger cannot select with the dead-on accuracy of the pointed stylus tip. And the finger-mimicking rounded rubber tip styluses made for standard smartphones does not compare.

Finally, I played around with the cropping feature. I can draw a circle around anything on the screen and copy that to the clipboard. Next, I can share that with a friend via text message or email. It's almost like clipping a picture out of a magazine, only easier. That has tremendous use for me.

So that's the update to the S Pen. I still have a lot more features to discover and report about within the next few days. I'll find as many as I can and share it with you soon!

Carlton Flowers
Galaxy Note II Enthusiast Extreme


Get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy Note II at the lowest possible price through Amazon Wireless! Prices starting at only $174.99 for new individual accounts signing a 2-year contract.

Hit the link now and check out the details, and save a chunk of money on this device that retails for $299 under contract!



Samsung Galaxy Note II Features That Amaze Me


As we continue with my Samsung Galaxy Note II test (thanks AT&T St. Louis), I have a couple of features to report that I practically love. I'm just now getting into some of the advanced functions of this phablet, so this is where it starts to get fun!

What I want to talk about is the S Pen. I have yet to figure out all of the amazing things that the upgraded stylus can do, but we can start with a few of of things that jump right out at me.

As I mentioned before, the S Pen stylus takes texting and note taking on a smartphone to a new level. When you use the Samsung keyboard, you can chose the handwriting input mode to compose text messages. It will recognize both plain lettering and cursive handwriting. The accuracy in translating my handwriting is exemplary.

Instead of learning the heiroglyphic writing like the days of PDA's, all you have to do is write like you normally would. I can write on the screen and even go back to add letters to words, cross my T's and dot my I's, all before finalizing the text message. I was not expecting that to work so well.

Usually, when you are entering text that uses handwriting recognition, you can't go back and edit a word that you have written while it is on the screen. Somehow, Samsung has figured out how to add letters to your own handwritten words after they have been recognized. This is truly amazing. It makes writing very natural.

The next thing I noticed is the ability of the S Pen stylus to recognize how hard you are pressing on the screen when sketching. Apparently, there are 1200 levels of pressure sensitivity built into the stylus that allow you to sketch with amazing similarity to a pencil.

I can tell a difference betwen the use of the stylus on the Galaxy Note I and the Galaxy Note II. They have improved the accuracy of the stylus, and when doing artwork, it has the uncanny ability to track exactly where the tip is for maximum effect and realness.

Something else that I discovered by mistake was one of the hovering features. When you are on a website or using a social network that requires you to scroll up and down, all you have to do is over the tip at the top or bottom of the page and it will smoothly scroll the page in either direction.

There are other features of the S Pen like hovering for text message previews and actual video previewing that I have yet to test out. We will talk about that in the next post that covers advanced S Pen use, so stay tuned!

Carlton Flowers
Ophicial Phablet Tester


Get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy Note II at the lowest possible price through Amazon Wireless! Prices starting at only $174.99 for new individual accounts signing a 2-year contract.

Hit the link now and check out the details, and save a chunk of money on this device that retails for $299 under contract!



Samsung Galaxy Note II Review - Size Matters


My review of the Samsung Galaxy Note II from AT&T Wireless continues tonight with my discussion of a singular topic: size.

Is the Galaxy Note II phablet too big? Are the critics right who claim it impractical, looks absurd, and has no serious potential as a smartphone?

Well if the 5,000,000 people who have already bought a Note II are any indication, the critics can shut it. Obviously, we are dealing with a niche market that has serious depth.

I am rounding out day 2 of my test, and I have been using the Note II all day long. I've surfed the web, made posts to the social networks, talked on the phone, and read emails. Here's my straight-talk opinion of the Galaxy Note II phablet and its enormous size after using the device for two straight days.

The biggest fear I had before thoroughly testing the phone was not being able to reach the corners of the screen thanks to my small hands. I also had a fear of not being able to text by tapping or using Swype. I figured my one-handed operating days would be over if I bought one.

Surprisingly, this is not an issue. I have small hands, but I have found a way to operate the phone with one hand. Just as I do with smaller smartphones, I balance the bottom of the Galaxy Note II with my pinky. My thumb can make it all the way to the left side of the screen to hit all of the keys when texting.

Sure, I can't get my thumb to the top left of the screen, but it doesn't bother me. I can't reach the top left of my 4.3" Galaxy S2 handset, so there isn't much difference here. But I don't mind reaching around with my other hand to tap an icon on the top row while I'm enjoying the lovely display.

Holding the Note II while having a phone converstaion is a different thing. It does feel a bit awkward in your hand due to its size. I could care less what it looks like to other people, but I think I would have to get used to the feeling of this form factor while talking. It's not a deal-breaker though.

The last point I will make is what my regular smartphone feels like after using the Galaxy Note II for several hours. When I pick up my Galaxy S2, it feels like a toy. The 4.3" smartphone that seemed so big after trading it in for my iPhone 4 now feels tiny.

The Galaxy Note II is a much better looking device as compared to my good ole trusty Galaxy S2. After handing the phablet, my S2 seems to have a cheap feel. Plus it just seems too small now. My perspective has changed. I don't want the small size anymore.

So the final analysis of the Samsung Galaxy Note II size is that it is a positive. The benefits outweigh the inconveniences. I definitely fall into the niche market of people who want a phablet with a gorgeous jumbo screen.

If you have your eyes on this device and want to know whether or not the size will be a problem, you need to go to the AT&T store and give it a test drive. If the features and fantastic display outweigh your reservations on size, get it. You won't be sorry.

Stay tuned for the next review where we will talk about some of the new features Samsung has packed into the Galaxy Note II. Got comments? Chat it out!

Carlton Flowers
Phablet Man


Get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy Note II at the lowest possible price through Amazon Wireless! Prices starting at only $174.99 for new individual accounts signing a 2-year contract.

Hit the link now and check out the details, and save a chunk of money on this device that retails for $299 under contract!


Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Test - Initial Thoughts


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!

Carlton Flowers
Phablet Man


Get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy Note II at the lowest possible price through Amazon Wireless! Prices starting at only $174.99 for new individual accounts signing a 2-year contract.

Hit the link now and check out the details, and save a chunk of money on this device that retails for $299 under contract!



CZ Blog Reviews On Galaxy Note II Coming!


I got great news from my AT&T St. Louis contact today that I will be receiving a Samsung Galaxy Note II for review! It will be arriving tomorrow. I will be doing a thorough test, and will come to a complete conclusion on this device.

I've been dreaming about owning the Note II since the rumors first started swirling about the second generation phablet last spring. And after handling a non-functional display device, I had a brief mind-change on how much I thought I would like it.

Is the Galaxy Note II a device that would meet all of my gadget desires, or is it too big for my small hands to handle as my primary smartphone? We will find out the answer once and for all.

I think the contest will be whether or not I find that the Galaxy Note II has true "utility" for all the tasks that I would like to use it for. The enormous size could be offset by the functionality of the S Pen stylus. That will be the true test.

There are some tasks that I believe the Galaxy Note II could be super useful for. If after using the Note II for a week proves this to be true, it might end up back on top of my list of possible smartphone upgrades.

First and foremost, I want to try to see if I can eliminate the use of paper in my life. I'd like to try the Galaxy Note II in place of notepads and sticky notes while on my job. Instead of going to meetings with a legal pad and pen, only to end up with stacks of sloppy hand-written papers everywhere collecting in my office, I could collect all the info I need with the Note 2.

There's something about using an actual pen and paper that sparks creativity and makes it esier to get your thought processes documented. With the Note 2, I could take notes and draw diagrams just as if I'm using a paper notepad. I'd love to be free of the cluttered paper mess in my life at both work and at home.

Next, I would like to find out if the Galaxy Note II phablet would make a useful device for writing blog posts and updating all of my social media sites. I currently have to do this from my laptop and Galaxy S2 smartphone when I'm not at the desk in my man cave at home.

Depending on how well the Galaxy Note 2 can convert handwriting to ASCII text, this could be a lot more handy than pulling out the big 17" laptop or using my tiny smartphone and fat finger to write posts.

Lastly, I'm totally intrigued with the way you can draw on photos and crop out pictures from the web and save as GIF or JPG files. This could be a valuable tool when posting to Tumblr, or creating blog posts. I don't know if it will be as easy as it looks, so we will see.

Even though the enormous Samsung phablet seems to be entirely too big for my hands to operate, I don't think I would have a problem holding it up to my face to talk on the phone. Bigger is better in that regard. I was never a fan of the micro-sized cell phones that were all the rage a decade ago.

There's one feature of the Galaxy Note 2 that could counteract the size problem. You are supposed to be able to reduce the size of the touch screen keyboard and move it to the lower right portion of the screen. This would make all of the keys accessible with one hand. No need to stretch your thumb all the way to the left side if your hands are small.

Stay tuned and I will be giving regular reports on my test of the Galaxy Note II. I will plan on including some audio and video posts along with regular blog posts. Then I will reveal my final opinion at the end of the test period!

Big thanks to AT&T Wireless for the opportunity to review this breakthrough device from Samsung. This should be my most exciting review!

Carlton Flowers
On The Phablet Phrontier


Get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy Note II at the lowest possible price through Amazon Wireless! Prices starting at only $174.99 for new individual accounts signing a 2-year contract.

Hit the link now and check out the details, and save a chunk of money on this device that retails for $299 under contract!



Black Friday Shocker - My Plans Averted


This has been a crazy year for gadget shopping and Black Friday. I had somewhat of a clear plan of attack, and it was derailed.

As you know, I've been salivating over the Samsung Galaxy Note II phablet. I was eligible for an upgrade in October (or so I thought). Once the price of $299 was unvelied for the second generation Note, I decided to wait it out for a while.

But something happened that forced me to change my plans. My daughter lost her Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone on the day before our family vacation. So I decided to go for the Note 2 now, and hand off my current Galaxy S2 to my daughter because she wasn't due for an upgrade.

I was really excited about getting the Note 2 even though I wasn't ready to part with the money. So I perused the web for Black Friday deals. The lowest price I found was $249 through Amazon.

Before ordering the phone, I decided to make a quick trip to the AT&T store in Ohio where I was spending Thanksgiving. I wanted to hold it in my hands for the first time. I had tested a first generation Note before, but I wanted to see how the new form facctor would feel.

Right off the bat, my first thought was "this smartphone is way too big". I was shocked that I had such a reaction. I've been wanting a humongous smartphone since the first generation Note was released. This was the moment I had been waiting for, and I didn't have that "magic feeling" that I was expecting.

The store did not have a working model, and I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to try out the new S Pen and all of its features. I thought that maybe my mind would change and I'd feel better about the size if I had a chance to test drive the stylus.

I played around with a few other smartphones, including the Galaxy S III, the HTC One X, and the Nokia Lumia 920. I was most impressed with the Lumia 920, and started having thoughts of making a switch in my game plan.

Even though the Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8 was clearly the most intuitive and impressive operating system of all, I admitted to myself that I'm not ready to ditch Android and make such a big switch. So I stayed focused.

I fondled the Galaxy Note II one more time, then I left the store more confused than when I had arrived. I went back home to drop the dough on a new phablet.

When I logged into my AT&T account, I was met with a surprise: I wasn't eligible for an upgrade!

Apparently, AT&T changed the rules on early upgrades for the primary account holders of family plans. The old rule was that you could do an early upgrade and new 2-year contract at the end of a year. But the new rule is 18 months minimum time before you can do an early upgrade.

At first, I was frustrated and angry. But afer I settled down, I was actually relieved that this happened. I wasn't ready to pull the trigger, and I'm finding that I am undecided on what I want with a smartphone.

By the time I am eligible for an upgrade, I probably won't be getting a Galaxy Note II. I will have had enough time to make a well-informed decision, and I'll have a better gadget strategy.

I'm leaning towards going back to Gadget Strategy B, which is having a smartphone that is actually a phone, then a 7" WiFi tablet, and my laptop. Who knows... maybe I'll get my stylus craving settled with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9.

In the meatime, my money will be staying in my bank account.

Carlton Flowers
Frustrated Gadget Addict

Lowest Priced Top Notch Anroid 4.0 7" Tablet Ever?


I was perusing Walgreen's yesterday and I stumbled on something in the front of the store where they place impulse items. It was a 7" multi-touch Android 4.0 tablet made by none other than Polaroid.

My first thought was that it must be a complete piece of junk, like similar "Walgreens tablets" that have been introduced in the past with resistive touch screens and older versions of the Android operating system.

But curiosity got the best of me after looking at the list price of $129.99, so I picked it up and flipped it over to see what crappy specs the device might have. What I found was quite a surprise.

This little booger not only had Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich pre-installed, but it had a capacitive multi-touch display, 800x600 screen resolution, 4Gb of internal memory, an SD card slot, a front-facing camera, support for 3D games, plus native Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube apps.

I thought it was too good to be true, so I looked at more details on the device and found it to have 512Mb of RAM and a 1GHz cpu under the hood. The actual manufacturer is Southern Telecom, a name I had not heard of.

After discovering all of these details, I started to wonder, "how has this not been drawing any media attention?" Perhaps it's a buggy device. Maybe it can't push video well. Or maybe it has low-end construction with poor QA/QC.

But what if it is actually a good device? At this price, even having moderate functionality would make this a best-seller. At least in my mind it would be. I mean, it hasn't been too long since the world sat and waited for the first legitimate color touch screen tablet to break the $199 barrier.

But that's not the end of the story... apparently, if you register for free as a preferred customer on the Walgreens website, you can buy the device for only $89.99. How can this not be worth the risk, for such a cheap price?

Will this unit sell out rapidly? Will it become a smash hit for the holiday season? Or will people buy truckloads of these tablets only to return them to Walgreens the next week because they are junk?

I read lots of reviews on about this device, and the opinions vary widely. It seems like there are more positive ratings than average to low ratings. After digging in deep and reading as many ratings as I could stand, I'm still befuddled about this thing.

I am personally going to give myself 7 days before I break down and buy one, just to find out if it is a legitimate tablet. If I can read eBooks and blogs, watch videos on Youtube, and stream Netflix without problems, I would call this the best value for a tablet on the market today. And a good buy.

Stay tuned, you might be hearing more about this. And if you actually own one of these and have an unbiased review to share, please shout it out in the Disqus comments section below and stop me before I blow $89.99!

Carlton Flowers
Tablet Gambler

New Nexus 7 Throws Wrench Into My Gadget Game Plan


Just when I have finally settled down with a firm gadget game plan, Google tosses in a huge wrench. Well, a rumored wrench to be truthful.

Word on the streets is that Google will be releasing a $99 base model Nexus 7 tablet during the 4th quarter of 2012.

They would accomplish this by using a Chinese-made single core processor and an HUVA front panel made by HannStar Display of Taiwan. The manufacturer is said to be Quanta Computer.

But let's get to the point of this post. If this rumor happens to pan out, it could derail my upgrade plans. Why? Because I would consider getting a smaller smartphone and a cheap tablet for my perfect gadget combination.

It would be very tempting to get a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini with a 4" display that would fit in my small hands. My verticle-screen-stretching-challenged thumb would certainly appreciate it.

Plus, the Galaxy S3 Mini is promising some seriously impressive updates like a quad core processor and Android "Jellybean" operating system.

I could actually use the mini as a smartphone, and have access to all my favorite apps. Portability would be great. And my poor aging eyes could enjoy the more jumbolicious size of the Nexus 7 tablet for my tech blog reading pleasure.

As good as a scenario that this would be, there's one thing that could keep me from following through on changing my game plan. And that happens to be...

The S Pen Stylus.

I've been waiting forever, since the days of my Palm Treo 650, to have another smartphone that uses a stylus. I have sorely missed it. With all the fantastic magical things the new S Pen stylus brings to a smartphone experience, I'm not so sure I could pass up the chance to return to my ways of old.

To be honest, I'm still leaning towards going with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 phablet and phorgetting about the whole tablet phrenzy.

But I could see myself buying a $99 Nexus 7 at Christmas time for the wife...

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Extremist


Galaxy Note II Official Release Date For US!


There's nothing I love more than official Samsung announcements for new smartphones, er, "phablets" that I want to own! The Galaxy Note II will come to the US on October 24th, 2012, and I will glued to the screen with heavy anticipation!

This will be my next smartphone purchase, as you probably are aware. I am willing to try the gigantic new 5.5" gigantic screen size for this hybrid smartphone device that will end my need and desire for a tablet. For me, this will be the device to end all devices.

It will be hard for me to part ways with my beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. Actually, I'm not going to part with it. I will probably keep my S2 as a viable backup device should something happen to my phablet. I have loved the service that I've gotten with my Galaxy S2, but I will be ready to upgrade.

I've got my heart set on the new induction capacitance stylus and the huge screen. I will be using a bluetooth keyboard along with the stylus in an attempt to do as much work possible on my smartphone without needing to get out the laptop.

If I can possibly do some blogging and writing with the Galaxy Note II, I will be fully satisfied. I'd like to be able to lean more on this device and less on my laptop. We'll see how that goes.

I would also like to eliminate as much paper in my life as possible. At my work desk, I tend to get overrun with sticky notes and business cards. I also have papers everywhere with notes from meetings. I see the Galaxy Note II as a way to remedy that problem and un-clutter my business life.

I will be purchasing the AT&T version of the Galaxy Note II, and I'll patiently wait for 4G LTE service to hit Central Missouri. As I would love to have the super fast download speeds of LTE, I think I will be okay with the wait thanks to all of the new uses that I will get out of this smartphone.

We will watch closely as the story unfolds, and I'll keep you posted as to when I expect my phabulous phablet to arrive!

Carlton Flowers
Phuture Phableter


Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Revealed - New Features Impress


The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 specs are out of the bag! I am VERY excited with what has been revealed, and this all but cinches my next smartphone buying decision.

The size of the Galaxy Note 2 will be the same, but the screen will be stretched to 5.5" diagonally, just like the rumors predicted.

The shape of the device is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S3 form factor. This makes me happy. Quite happy indeed.

They have managed to make the device thinner, coming in at only 9.3mm. That more than makes up for the large size, in my opinion.

Its got a 1.6GHz quad core cpu and a whopping 2Gb of RAM. That makes this a powerful tablet device that should cut through apps and multitask with ease.

It will be packing a rather large 3100mAh battery, which is probably needed for the jumbo sized Super AMOLED display.

What I am most excited about is the improved S Pen stylus, and the "Air View" functions.

Air View allows you to hover the stylus over certain applications and get a preview without interrupting the current display.

Plus it will allow you to create video preview windows over top of running apps. That will take mobile multitasking to a level never seen before.

There are some other exciting things like the ability to notate pictures on the device, and then share them. Plus,  the software will have several new and improved functions.

We'll talk about this and much more soon. But in the meantime, we'll just pray that Apple doesn't find a way to throw a wrench in this gorgeous, beautiful device's future before it hits the shelves.

Do you plan on getting a Galaxy Note 2 phablet, or is this out of your size range? Sound off!

Carlton Flowers
Phuture Phablet Phreak


Tablets Or Laptops - What Is Best For Business Use?


I had a great question from my friend who is realestate professional in Florida, Vaughn Herren. He asked me for advice on whether or not he should buy a laptop or a tablet device for work purposes.

He liked the idea of the portability of a tablet device, but wondered if it would have the utility of a laptop. Plus, he had plans on using Microsoft Office with whatever device he picked.

Tablets can be a great tool for real estate agents. They can take pictures, get online with mobile 3G or 4G service, and can run certain software packages. They are widely used and are very popular with agents across the country, especially the Apple iPad.

While tablets are super convenient and very powerful devices, it might not be the best choice depending on the type of software you need to run. If you're going to be doing any work on a spreadsheet, a tablet can be maddening.

Manipulating your way around Microsoft Excel on an Android tablet or Apple iPad is not easy. You've got to learn a lot of tricks to get the functionality of what the mouse can do with ease. In my opinion, it is not worth the trouble if you will be working a lot with spreadsheets.

Yes, you can perform the functions that you need to do. But if you are looking to be fast and efficient, you're not going to be breaking any records doing cumbersome number crunching and spreadsheet analysis on a tablet.

That's where a laptop comes ahead and wins the competition. Having a mouse touch pad or external mouse gives a clear advantage in manipulating and working through spreadsheets and databases.

One alternative is to get an iPad or possibly the upcoming Microsoft Surface RT with a keyboard. This makes the tablet much more usable. I find tablets useless when it comes to typing on a touch screen. Without real keys to seat your fingers, you just can't type with any real speed.

So adding an external keyboard to an iPad or Surface RT will give it a laptop-type user experience. There are some high quality keyboards available, so your typing efficiency would be off the charts if you're a fast typer.

But you still don't have the use of a mouse with a tablet. That's a big drawback. For me, I'm a spreadsheet finatic. I use it to make balance sheets, cost estimates, inventory tracking, payroll tax calculations, and more. There isn't a way in the world I would do my business computing on a tablet. If I did, what little hair I have on the top of my head would be gone.

But that's just me. Maybe the uses a person may have are more geared toward a tablet. If they are, then a tablet may be the way to go. But for maximum computing power and flexibility to run all business related software efficiently, I'm going to have to say that a laptop would be the smart first investment.

Later on down the road, if money is not a problem, I think a tablet device would compliment the use of a laptop. I just don't think it would replace it.

For me, you'll see me toting a full size 17" HP laptop. And how will I diversify my cadre of computing components? With a Samsung Galaxy Note 2. That will be my bottom-level device. Desktop PC, laptop, and phablet. My winning formula!

What is your comination of gadetry that you haul off to the workplace or field each day? Share with us in the new Disqus comments section what your weapons of data warfare are!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Advisor


Microsoft Surface RT Tablet for $199? SOLD!


Fresh rumors in the tech sector are circulating about the pricing of the Microsoft Surface RT tablet computer being introduced at the amazing bargain basement price of $199. Part of me wishes this rumor had credence. But could it possibly be based on a shred of truth?

Analyzing the facts, we would have to say no. We know that Microsoft will only have a limited number of Surface RT tablets available for retailers to sell when it first hits the market. And we also know by the law of supply and demand that if demand far outweighs supply, you don't get bargain basement prices.

I'm not so sure that Microsoft would be in the business of selling the Surface RT as a loss leader just to get people buying apps, somewhat like Amazon is doing with the Fire tablet. But if you consider the price of the XBOX 360 and Kinect and how much technology they employ, it might not be that far fetched.

Plus, Microsoft made the statement that the Surface RT would be "priced close to what similar ARM based tablets are being offered". Everyone assumed they were comparing "Apples" to Microsoft "oranges". In other words, drawing a comparison of the entry level Surface to the entry level iPad 2 at $399.

But tech writers are now talking about the possibility of the Surface RT being compared to the Kindle Fire or Google Nexus 7, both of which are ARM based devices but comning in at $199. This is a valid argument.

I don't want to get my hopes up just yet, but I'm praying that this is the case. If you took a Surface RT and stripped it down to the basics with no keyboard, case, or Microsoft Office package, it is possible that you could price it at $199. This could be a break-even point or even loss leader.

As slick as the new case and keyboard are, savvy buyers would likely opt for these things at the time of purchase or shortlly thereafter. And with the availability of the Office suite, it would be a sensible upgrade for business users or students. That would bring Microsoft plenty of profit if they do end up going with the $199 entry price point.

I'll be writing soon about the Google Nexus 7 and the rumored 2nd generation Kindle Fire as viable $199 tablet options. But I'll tell you right now, the Surface RT would trump both of them immediately for me. I would be the first to get one fo $199, and the keyboard purchase would come shortly thereafter.

What are your thoughts? Would you opt for a Nexus 7, 2nd Gen Kindle Fire, Surface RT, or a more expensive tablet like an iPad 2 or 3? Sound off in the comments!

Carlton Flowers
On the Surface of Buying


"Flexibility" - Why The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Could Be A Great Investment


We could be hearing news about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 on August 15th, 2012, and a possible US release this fall. The Galaxy Note 2 could be breaking ground on the next paradigm shift in smartphone display design.

With its huge 5.5" display design, the Galaxy Note 2 could be a seriously breakable device. Stuff it in your back pocket and sit on the wrong surface, and you're sure to end up with a broken display (and a broken heart).

Sure, it might not be as breakable as an iPhone with its heavy design and glass surfaces, but it certainly would not be invincible... unless it had a flexible screen. That's the great news. The Galaxy Note 2 is reported to feature a Flexible AMOLED HD display.

If you're gonna get ridiculous with smartphone sizes, as we are seeing with the emergence of the "phablet" niche, you had better address the cracking screen issue.

The larger the screen, the greater the propensity for breakage. To solve that issue, the Galaxy Note 2 purportedly has a 4mm thick UBP (Unbreakable Plan Technology) digitizer screen.

I don't think this means you'll be able to bend the phone, but it might be slightly flexible enough to provide the ability to mold to a concave design similar to the Galaxy Nexus. But it would also provide super durability to guard against shattering when dropping or sitting.

As expensive as the new generation of smartphones are, the fragility of these devices is a serious issue. Each time a new smartphone is released, thousands are broken on the very first day. Replacement screens are seriously expensive until enough units are broken, thus raising the demand for replacement parts.

But the Galaxy Note 2 could start a new trend. Knowing how hard I am on smartphones, having a flexible display ranks fairly high on my list of desirable features. I would be ecstatic if I could own a smartphone that would last to the end of the contract period without me breaking it, or requiring me to pay extra money for replacement plans.

Even with a replacement plan, who wants to plop down a $200 deductible when they break their new smartphone the first few weeks that they own it? I sure don't. I'd rather buy one from the jump that would go the distance with me.

Do you have a horror story of a shattered display with a brand-new smartphone? Would you be motivated by your unlucky track record to invest in something like the Galaxy Note 2 if it has a nearly unbreakable display? Sound off in the comments section!

Carlton Flowers
Galaxy Note (Owner) 2 Be


HTC Jealous Of Samsung's Phabulousness - Plans Counter-Attack


Now this has to be the best rumor I have read this week... HTC is said to be entering into the phablet arena with their own jumbo 5" smartphone device. They just could not let Samsung rule the phablet roost without tossing their own version into the ring.

This comes from the professional leak-artists over at Digitimes. They claim the HTC phablet will be 5" with pixel layout of 1794 x 1080 at 1080p HD. The new monstrosity is supposed to be announced in September or October of 2012.

This might sound a bit far-fetched; but if you think about it for a while, it follows the pattern. HTC has gone blow-to-blow with Samsung for the past year in cranking out similar smartphone devices. They've done a great job, too.

I happen to be of the opinion that Samsung takes the slight edge over HTC with their devices, but HTC certainly pushes the limits in making what I believe to be one of the best product lines on the market.

People didn't predict a tremendous success for the Samsung Galaxy Note 1, and I think everyone is surprised at how solidly this unit has been selling over the past several months. Sure, it's not breaking records, but it has had respectable sales and has proven the phablet to be a strong enough niche to take seriously.

That's why I think this rumor will turn out to be fact. HTC is not going to sit back and let Samsung exploit a potential strong niche without providing a competing product. I'm just wondering which one will spec out in the lead between the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the HTC "Behemoth" phablet-to-come.

One thing is for sure, however... I don't see Apple jumping into this fight ever. Theyr'e still stuck in the 4"-or-less smartphone display size paradigm, and the best possible related product would be their iPad Mini (IF it even comes to fruition).

Share your thoughts! Are phablets the next strong gadget niche, or will it pass in the night?

Carlton Flowers
Phablet Rumor Watcher


Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - Unpacking Fresh Rumors


The excitement is starting to build, and I can hardly stand it. At the end of this month, we will know all the glorious details about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. All will be told at the "Unpacked" event on the 29th.

The freshest rumors about the Galaxy Note 2 that we can believe are as follows:

  • Quad-core 1.4GHz Exynos cpu
  • 5.5" display
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system
  • Advanced S Pen
  • Galaxy S3 styling
  • $199 to $249 price tag

That is enough of a technical lineup to get me to sign on the line when my upgrade becomes available in mid-October. I will be ready to jettison my Galaxy S2 and roll the dough into a Galaxy Note 2.

I am most excited about the advancements that are being made with the S Pen. The accuracy is said to have been improved, and there are also rumors about it using micro conductivity (the same principle that allows a finger with a capacitive inductance display to work).

If I am able to land a Galaxy Note 2, you can forget any plans about the need of buying a tablet. I won't have any reason to waste the money. The Galaxy Note 2 will be big enough to serve as a tablet with a 4G LTE radio, but small enough to pack as a smartphone.

That will make me one happy gadget camper indeed.

Are you in the market for a Galaxy Note 2? Is this your perfect device, or do you think it's too much phabulous phablet for your phront pocket to handle? Sound off!

Carlton Flowers
Phuture Phablet Man


Back-To-School Tax Free Gadget To Grab - Hot Deals!


For my "Missourah" readers, take note! It's Sales Tax Holiday Weekend! Any school-related items you buy this weekend (August 3rd thru 5th) are tax-free, and the state is even including smartphones & tablets along with the regularly-recognized computers and laptops.

I got a hot tip from my AT&T St. Louis contact about a few great deals they are running that you should look at for Sales Tax Holiday Weekend purchasing. Here they are!

HTC One X Smartphone

The new flagship smartphone from HTC is a force to be reckoned with. I tested this phone myself for ten days, and I was most impressed with the build quality and the super-vivid display. The phone has a smooth contour that fits perfectly in your hand, and is right at the sweet spot for size with its 4.7" HD 720 display.

On the inside, the HTC One X has a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor that is fully capable of pushing multimedia content and the most robust games available. Running apps and opening files is a piece of cake for this workhorse processor.

It sports 16Gb of internal memory, 1Gb of RAM, and blazing fast 4G LTE internet connectivity that can also serve as a WiFi hotspot for other devices (see service agreement for details).

The One X packs an 8MP camera on the back, and a 1.3MP front-facing camera for all your picture taking and video recording activities. Something the HTC One X has that no other smartphone can boast is Beats Audio by Dr. Dre for incredible music playback over the internal speaker.

Go get this super phone at your local AT&T Store for the special price of $99, or click the link for the Amazon Wireless store to snag one for as low as $79 on contract!

Pantech Element Tablet/Pantech Burst Smartphone Combo

This is a GREAT deal if I've ever seen one. You've seen my reviews for the awesome Pantech Element 4G LTE Tablet (which just happens to be waterproof) and the Pantech Burst smartphone. Just click the links to get to the device details that I previously blogged about.

The Pantech Element tablet is one solid device that has a super sturdy build, and smooth functionality. Its 8.9" size makes it perfect for portability but big enough to make readability good.

And the Burst smartphone is a perfect match for it. With it's vivid 4" touchscreen and super fast 4G connectivity, you can get all of your texting, talking, and social media interaction taken care of on the go.

AT&T is running a special where you get both devices for less than the current cost of the tablet alone. The price for both with a 2-year contract agreement is $199. Contact your local AT&T Store to take advantage of this offer or click here to see it online!

ZAGGfolio Keyboard for iPad

Here's a nifty little addition for your Apple iPad that will effectively turn it into a functioning laptop. With the ZAGGfolio keyboard, you can pound out all of your note-taking during class, or email at the speed of typing!

The ZAGGfolio keyboard also doubles as a hard shell case to protect your iPad from damage. The price is $99. Click here to see it in action at the AT&T Store online.

Well that's about all I have for now. Stay tuned and I will have more reviews on other exciting gadgets very soon. There are 2 devices that I am SUPER excited about, and neither one of them have fruit logos on them. You'll have to come back to see what they are!

Carlton Flowers
Tax-Free Deal Snatcher



Introducing The Microsoft Surface Tablet!


Well folks, all of the anticipation and rumor-mongering is over... Microsoft has officially announced the Surface, their very first branded tablet device!

The Surface Tablet will introduce Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, and it appears to be a large 16x9 display tablet that comes with a kickstand and an industry-first folding case that comes with two types of keyboards that flip over like a book, or snap right on as an external component.

The "Touch Keyboard" is only 3mm thick, and snaps right onto the device. You can also get a "Type Keyboard" that is 5mm thick and features fully embossed keys that you can actually press down.

You get a 10.6" display made from Gorilla Glass II, and what they are calling the "VaporMG" case that is solid and durable. The thickness of the overall tablet is only 9.3mm deep. The Windows 8 "Metro UI" operating system is said to be very intuitive and easy to pick up, similar to Windows Phone Mango.

They are touting this tablet to be a potential replacement of a regular desktop PC, or a laptop. With the unobtrusive keyboard covers, I could see this device replacing my current laptop computer, but I would still want the muscle of a desktop for heavy duty computing.

Something else worth mentioning, the covers are magnetic (similar to the iPad cover) and they are multitouch. Plus, the kickstand action is easily employed to prop up the Surface for use on a desktop.

This is an ARM-based NVIDIA chip tablet that has the hardware features that I would expect coming from a non-Apple device, like an SD card slot, standard USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, 32Gb or 64Gb of storage, and a 31.5Wh battery. Initial reports say that it is super slick, fast, and super-responsive to gestures.

But the biggest most exciting non-Apple feature in my opinion is the inclusion of a pressure sensitive stylus. It is said to be a "digital ink" stylus. I'm not sure what that means at this point, but it obviously indicates a greater-than-normal capability than that of traditional styluses.

My prediction on price is probably half of what this device will be sold for. Rather than a middle-of-the-road tablet, it looks like Microsoft is swinging for the fences in producting a fully capable computing device that will rival the funtionality of an iPad.

That's about all I have gathered information-wise at this point, and we'll keep you posted as more details come in. I might have to start saving up some money and put the Surface tablet on my Christmas wish list!

Carlton Flowers
Exposing The Surface