Hands-on video below. See more info about the Samsung here.
Hands-on video below. See more info about the Samsung here.
You may have seen my speculation the other day that the Galaxy Note might have actually been something exciting, like a sliding smartbook, but it seems I may be the only person who realizes that bigger isn’t better when it comes to Android smartphone screens.
We’ll get to being critical about the device in just a moment, have no doubt. For the time being though, let’s get some specs out there:
The stylus is active which should make for smooth and natural feeling digital writing.
It seems like Samsung designed this device to straddle the line between tablet and phone, but I find that to be a flawed concept from the start, tantamount to UMPCs that came in at a thumb-board-sized keyboards but with keys designed for touch-typing!
To me, the 5.3” size of the Galaxy Note’s screen means that the device is too big to be an ergonomically designed phone, but smaller than someone would want for a tablet.
As for handwriting input, the Galaxy Note isn’t going to be a useful device if it tries to pull an HTC Flyer and launch a product that has the technology to write on the screen, but no proven usage scenarios.
Don’t get me wrong, in my day-to-day activities, I use an HP Tablet PC and I love the touchscreen for digital inking. The difference is that, in Windows, the digital inking experience is built-in at an OS level (and even then it is still criticized). The Galaxy Note, on the other hand, comes with an OS (Android 2.3) which has no core support for digital inking input – everything having to do with handwriting at this point is either proprietary or third-party. I mean, come on! Look at the press shot at the top of this post. Is this really how Samsung things people would use something like this… to draw constellations on a picture on their homescreen and annotate it with some stupid text? There are far more useful ways to use written input, but it looks like no one has figured them out yet on Android.
Naturally, Samsung says that they’ll be including some apps specific for pen use, but it’s yet to be seen if they include any truly useful functionality, or just silly proof-of-concept apps like the ability to annotate screenshots. I’ll be happily wrong if Samsung built some really useful functionality out of the digital inking ability of the Galaxy Note, but I don’t see it happening.
The only points the Galaxy Note will see from me is that the device actually has a built-in stylus silo, so you won’t have to carry it around separately in your pocket. Oh and the Super AMOLED display is likely to look really good!
That’s my take anyway. What do you think, would the Galaxy Note be useful in your life?
Pricing and carrier availability have yet to be announced, but we’ll update as we hear more.
Update: Hands-on video!
The upcoming HTC [tracking page] is one of the only (if not the only) Android tablets that is built specifically with stylus driven input in mind. NotebookItalia.com has caught a video of an artist demonstrating what it’s like to use the Flyer as a drawing tool.
I don’t speak Italian, but the video gives us somewhat of an idea of what experience you can expect from inking on the HTC Flyer. My initial feeling is that while the N-trig capacitive/active digitizer screen will feel great for digital inking, the software on the Flyer is going to determine how seriously this tablet could be used for art.
I’m no artist, but from what I understand, layers and a robust brush tool are vital to creating digital hand-drawn art. Artists need to be able to selectively work on various layers of their projects, and need to have a huge brush-head selection to be able to do mass-outs and draw textures what would be difficult to achieve with manual strokes.
At first glance, HTC’s drawing application might look ok, but a major roadblock that I can already see is that brush sizes appear to be quantized, meaning that only specific pre-set sizes can be chosen, rather than being able to select from a virtually unlimited number of possible brush sizes. Layers also don’t seem to be present, so when if you are looking at the Flyer as a seriously digital-drawing art tool, you might be better off sticking with your Wacom pads. Drawing (not writing, mind you) on the HTC shift appears to be more useful for simple sketches than masterpieces.
Digital ink for note taking, however, will likely be well received to people unfamiliar with using a real stylus and active digitizer. HTC has talked about Evernote integration on the Flyer which happens to be my go-to digital ink (and regular text-based) note taking app, so they definitely picked a good ally in this department.
The on-device inking experience might not be up to professional artistic standards, but HTC could potentially pull a Notion Ink and allow the Flyer to function as a wireless drawing pad for a full blown computer. The Flyer appears to have pressure support (a must for life-like digital inking), so conceivably it could work as wireless drawing pad when linked up to an application like Photoshop. HTC hasn’t yet announced such functionality, but here’s to hoping (or at least a clever third-party implementation)!
The HTC Flyer is launching in the UE region on the 8th of May for a steep $792 (479 pounds) for the base model. Thus the Flyer is unlikely to be anyone’s first choice as a dedicated digital inking pad as Wacom’s industry-recognized Intuos drawing pad line starts at $299.
Jkk (via SlashGear) posted this video of the HTC tablet earlier today. It gives a good idea of how HTC expects people to use their first Android tablet (though we can’t forget about the HTC Shift!). None of what you’ll see in the video is footage of actual use though, it’s all proof-of-concept. Have a look at the video below, and scroll further down to see Chippy’s brief inking test with the device at CeBIT.
The video shows off the HTC well, but it’s important to look through the marketing speak. After some time with HTC’s ‘Sense’ UI on Android, I’m not looking forward to the version that’s designed for tablets. It looks like they’ve bulkified their already-chunky widgets for use with the bigger screen.
The section about gaming is very interesting but will probably go overlooked by most because the video didn’t give a lot of info about it. HTC has made a sizable investment in the cloud gaming service OnLive, according to SlashGear, and there will be a version of their controller than can connect to the HTC Flyer and allow you to play console quality games through it. There’s also a virtual on-screen controller option but that’s pretty much a joke if you are trying to play any real-time game. This will be the first Android tablet with OnLive integration and could give HTC an advantage over it’s competitors if the service stays exclusive to HTC. With the service you can be gaming on your computer, then pause the game and pick up right where you left off on the Flyer, that’s pretty darn cool.
It’s clear that HTC has taken a lot of inspiration from the LiveScribe, and they are saying that inking and notes will be integrated with Evernote which is really good news. The closer that HTC can work with Evernote, the better. Evernote has a lot of experience with (PC) tablets and note taking. I’m just hoping that the integration will be sufficient to create wholesome workflow. Without thorough integration, people are still going to have to lug their computers around to work anyway, which sort of defeats the purpose of attempting to relegate everything to a tablet. Google Cloud Print could also be an important piece to the all-in-one productivity puzzle that HTC appears to be aiming for.
As for the ‘write anywhere’ capability, it may be less useful than it seems. After looking at Chippy’s test with the inking (video below) it appears as though as soon as one writes on the screen, it immediately takes a screenshot and then annotates the screenshot, instead of actually interfacing with the content on the screen. That’s just a guess though and it’s early software, so we’ll have to wait and see how it really pans out.
One thing that I’m not happy about with on the Flyer (other than the ugly white plastic on the back) is the lack of pen-silo for the stylus. Despite how much they’d like to say that the Flyer is totally designed for inking, I don’t know how convinced I am if there is no way to store the stylus on the device. Folks are not going to want to haul that around as a separate piece, especially if they don’t use it all the time.
Here’s Chippy’s brief hands-on with inking on the HTC Flyer: