Without a doubt, the most advertised product at CES this year was the Samsung Galaxy Note. It seemed like every other bus on the strip or at the convention center was skinned with Note advertisement, and everywhere you turned you saw Note booths doing caricatures. It seemed a little overkill at first; advertising a 5 inch phone/tablet hybrid so heavily, especially after the poor adoption of the Dell Streak 5.
However, once I made my way to the Samsung booth, which happened to be the largest in the entire show, I finally got my hands on one. Yes, it’s huge. And yes, it is also a phone. However, what completely sets this apart from anything else is the included “S Pen”. Not just a stylus, the S Pen actually registers pressure sensitivity on the screen, turning it into a mini Wacom Cintiq. It also allows a long tap with the pen on any screen, from any application, and it will immediately screenshot it, allowing you to annotate or draw on top of the image.
I love this phone. Even without Ice Cream Sandwich, which we were assured would be coming to the device eventually, it ran smooth as silk. Inside the monstrous body was a 1.4ghz dual-core processor, 1gb of RAM, a 5.3″ HD Super AMOLED screen at 1280×800 resolution, a giant 2,300mAh battery, 8MP rear camera with 1080p video with 2MP front shooter, and an HSPA+ radio for 4G speeds. Coming from my art background, I immediately recognized the potential for a portable sketchbook on your phone. Yes, there are apps like Autodesk’s Sketchbook Mobile that allow you to use a stylus to to create some pretty impressive art, but they lack the pressure sensitivity, which allows for natural lines like you would make with a pencil. It could also be incredibly useful for things like taking a screenshot of a Google Maps screen and annotating on it, then sending it to someone asking where you are or how to get somewhere. Students could potentially remove paper note taking from their lives. The possibilities are endless.
As of right now, the Note is set to debut stateside on AT&T. When I asked about a WiFi only device or a CDMA version coming out, the Samsung rep said “he wasn’t aware of any,” but that he had been asked the same question all day long, so obviously there would be a demand for it. There unfortunately isn’t a release date set for a US launch, but the rest of the world has had it for a couple months, and Samsung reportedly shipped 1 million units, so it will more than likely be pretty soon. Of all the phones ever released, this is the one that has the most potential to pull me from Verizon if a CDMA version isn’t released.
Check out a couple videos demonstrating the S Pen in action after the break.