If you cast your mind back just a few short years, it seemed like everyone was obsessed with cramming as much as possible into the smallest space imaginable in almost every walk of the tech sector. Everything from laptops to desktops to home audio systems to cell phones seemed to be shrinking exponentially, so it was probably a given that there would be a backlash on the cards – and this backlash is perfectly summed up by the Samsung Galaxy Note.
Eschewing the miniaturisation fad to hit back with a “bigger is better” approach, Samsung has used the Note to make a real statement about where they see the future of mobile technology going. Given the popularity of smartphones in the last few years, coupled with the surge in Android tablets, it’s fair to say that the Galaxy Note is probably the next logical progression for many companies to take.
Where the Note differs from the majority of other devices on the market is the fact that it’s neither a tablet nor a phone at first glance. In many ways it’s more akin to the early 7” portable touch screen media players that started trickling out a few years ago from the likes of Archos, but it retains the functionality of your run of the mill smartphone.
Running the Android 2.3.6 operating system, the Note comes with all the bells and whistles that you would expect from the Android platform. With a gargantuan 5.3” display, it’s genuinely both impressive and intimidating at the same time. Fortunately though, Samsung has provided a subtle hint as to its best utilisation by including the S-Pen, which is essentially a tooled up stylus, to help us navigate the massive real estate on offer.
It’s not just the size of the 1280 x 800 pixel HD Super AMOLED display which impresses though, the device also contains a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of built in storage space and 1GB of RAM, putting it ahead of almost everything out there on the specs front. Given all that power and the fact that Gingerbread is a tried and tested OS, you would think that the Note would run smoothly and without any issues, and for the most part it does just that, aside from the occasional delay on loading web pages – but that’s as much a Gingerbread issue as anything, so we won’t be too quick to lay the blame at Samsung’s feet on that one.
The main problem with the Note is really that it doesn’t know quite what it wants to be. As a tablet, it’s a little bit too small and the stylus may be seen by some as being a little unnecessary, given the fact that the touch screen works as well as any. While as a mobile phone it’s simply going to prove to be too big for many. While we’re all for bigger and better screens, they can’t come at the expense of usability, which could be a potential issue for some users.
Phones need to be comfortable enough to hold that you can access all their functions with a single hand – something that’s simply not the case here. We don’t exactly have dainty girl hands, so the fact that we still needed both to access the full reach of the real estate on the screen is a little troubling. We can only imagine how difficult it would be for someone with smaller hands – but that’s what the stylus is for, should you choose to use it.
That aside though, the Samsung Galaxy Note is a fantastic device – a monster in every sense of the word – and if you’re looking for an alternative to the norm, then it’s got to be top of the list. With so much power and a genuinely impressive appearance, there’s nothing else remotely like it out there today.