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A Digital Native / Young Professional Reviews Galaxy Note II

Techlab - A Digital Native / Young Professional Takes On The Samsung Galaxy Note II


A review by George McLellan for Scoop Techlab

[Scoop Editor's Note: Today two new writers join the Scoop Techlab (People Centered Technology Reviews) crew to write about the Samsung Galaxy Note II. Both are Scoop Independent News veterans.

George McLellan is a former part time Scoop duty editor who has recently started work as a lawyer in Wellington. Rosalea Barker is Scoop's long time US based correspondent. The two writers join Brenda Leeuwenberg to write about the tablet/phone Galaxy Note II smartphone.

In her first column George reflects on his first week using the Note II and concludes that it has been fun and that the phone looks to be an improvement on his previous phone, an Iphone 4. - Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson]

Introducing myself

I am a 23 year old solicitor and a former employee of Scoop Independent News where I worked as a duty editor while I was studying at university. I have so far previously used just two ‘smartphones’. My first was an Ideos 3 (which was not all that smart) which I bought while at university and I used this until it crashed indefinitely approximately seven months ago. More recently I have been using a second hand Iphone 4 which I bought after the Ideos crashed.

Although I rated the Iphone 4 highly I never became an avid Iphone fan and never seriously explored the world of apps beyond those that came standard on the phone. This was partly due to a lack of time, but mainly due to a lack of interest.

I would describe myself as a functional user of smartphones – the most important considerations for me are the practical communication functions (i.e. email, phone, web, text, battery life, navigation, screen clarity and ergonomics). As long as I can access my emails, favourite news sites (Scoop.co.nz), and call and message people reliably then I’m happy. But if a phone can aid that process and make it easier for me to do these things while mobile as well as better organise my life then I will be extra happy.

Enter the Samsung Galaxy Note II

The first and most obvious thing about the Galaxy Note II is it's size. On first impression I thought it migt be a little bit too big to be a phone, and too small to be a tablet, but after using it for a short time I realised that it’s size is perfect for my needs. Not only does it fit comfortably in a standard sized blazer or trouser pocket, its smooth edges make it significantly more comfortable to carry than the Iphone I carried around previously.

Meanwhile the much larger 5.5 inch 720p High Definition screen makes it significantly more functional for web browsing, reading content and writing emails and text messages than the smaller smart phones on the market. In terms of size, the only drawback of the Note II is that it is hard to use effectively with one hand which makes it hard to use while walking a dog.

Noticeably, the ease of use of this smartphone is remarkable. Everything about the Galaxy Note II that I have needed to do came naturally and so far I have had no problems working out how to navigate through its many functions. That said it is continuously revealing new unseen functionality and does so nicely via pop-up tutorials which seem to appear in the early stages of use in a helpful fashion.

An important point of difference between the Galaxy Note II and other similar devices is the smart pen which can be used to speedily navigate through and use the Galaxy Note II’s applications. I have found the smart pen to be very useful in accurately and quickly editing emails and messages because of the greater precision that it enables - a big round finger tip can never be as effective when dealing with text selection even on the much larger 5.5 inch screen. In this context the smart pen is very useful for selectively highlighting, cutting and pasting text - saving quite a lot of time when communicating with colleagues and friends.

To illustrate how the smart pen has made my life easier I found that for the first time ever I can use my phone to access a complex online legal database that was not designed for phones. This was impossible with the Iphone 4 due to the lack of accuracy that can be achieved with the finger control – but with the Galaxy Note II smart pen I can easily and accurately enter text into numerous information fields and select and unselect check-boxes to find the commentary that I’m after.

According to the literature (and TV ads) the smart pencil can also be used to cut out and paste graphics through the clipboard - something that I haven’t yet attempted to do but something I would like to master. I will endeavour to learn how to use these more creative functions of the Galaxy Note II over the coming weeks.

One small problem with the smart pencil is that it doesn’t activate the ‘return’ and ‘options’ buttons which are on either side of the home button on the screen. Although this is a ‘first world problem’, it is also a noticeable useability fault which should be fixed in my opinion.

Finally in this first blog it is important to remark on the camera. The 8 megapixel camera combined with the 720p screen is a huge boon for me. One of the best things about this camera is the option of taking ‘bursts’ of photographs which increase the chance of capturing a good quality and clear image with everybody looking good.

So my first impressions are that the Galaxy Note II does everything that I expect a smartphone to do, but things like the size (for reading long messages), the clarity of the display, the speed and the smart pen show considerable promise to make organising my life easier. It is for this reason that for me, moving to the Galaxy Note II reminds me of my move to the Iphone 45 from the Ideos, or to the Ideos from the flip-phone that I had before that - i.e it’s a major leap forward, and progress like this is fun.

Content Note: This post has been enabled by Telecom NZ , but the thoughts are the blogger's own. Scoop TechLab is a project of Scoop Independent Media. Find out more about the Samsung Galaxy Note II HERE and more about global roaming as a Telecom XT network customer Here. www.scoop.co.nz. It is edited by Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson.

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