Review: Samsung's Galaxy Note II gets bigger and better
Samsung has paid close attention to usability, while also boosting the browser and VPNFollow @MobileGalen
Plus, you can now create an image clip without first taking a screenshot. The pen does this in one step: Hold its button, then draw around the area you want to clip. You have to make sure you return to your starting point to get the clip -- that can be tricky given the nearly invisible tracing line and start-point indicator on screen. If you do, the clip area is highlighted, and tapping the screen saves its image to the Clipboard. At the bottom of the screen, a row of applications to which you can send the image appears; tap one to send the image to it. This is much more convenient than the approach used in the original Note.
Samsung has replaced the original Note's S Memo app with S Note in the Note II. This enhanced note-taking and doodling app now supports multipage notes, audio recording, and the ability to create shortcuts for individual notes on your home screens. The need for actual pen and paper is once again reduced.
The Note II's screen is more sensitive to the pen hovering over it -- sometimes too sensitive, picking up the stylus where it's not actually onscreen and thus moving the pointer unexpectedly. This is actually a feature called AirView. The Note II detects the pen if its tip is no farther than 1 centimeter from the screen. If you hover the pen over partial content -- the first few lines of an email in the message list, a video's thumbnail, and so on -- the Note II reveals in a popup window the full contents, such as to show the complete message or play the video.
AirView provides the kind of rich contextual capability Apple debuted in OS X with its Quick Look facility (which uses shortcuts, not gestures) several years ago. It's simply amazing how such a desktop-style feature can now be brought to mobile devices, and Samsung deserves kudos for pushing the Note II into such rich desktop functionality.
The new "phablet" is fabulous
Samsung has implemented a lot of wise improvements in the Note II, resulting in a much better device than the original version. The UI enhancements, better browser, and beefier hardware all combine for a very nice user experience -- if only it had a well-designed Calendar app! I still think the Note II is too big for me, but if you can handle its size, it's a great smartphone -- and a decent micro-tablet.
This article, "Review: Samsung's Galaxy Note II gets bigger and better," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile computing, read Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog at InfoWorld.com, follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter, and follow InfoWorld on Twitter.
InfoWorld executive editor Galen Gruman analyzes the latest issues in mobile technology.
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Galen is author of iOS 7: The "Just What You Need" Book, OS X Mavericks: The "Just What You Need" Book, MacBook Pro Portable Genius, and iBooks Author For Dummies, as well as lead author of Exploring Windows 8 For Dummies. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen and at Google+.