Tactical Advice

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note II Proves the Stylus Isn't Dead

Smartphone/tablet hybrid offers handy stylus and good pen software.
Review: Samsung Galaxy Note II Proves the Stylus Isn't Dead
Credit: Samsung

Samsung recently upgraded its Note device with the release of the Galaxy Note II "phablet." A cross between a smartphone and a tablet computer, the device features a 5.5-inch display well suited for use as a notepad to jot down reminders.

Like a growing number of Samsung Galaxy devices, the Note II comes equipped with a stylus called the S Pen. The pen software performs a dependable job of handwriting recognition.

Based on the Android 4.1 OS (Jelly Bean), which was developed for tablets, the Galaxy Note II we tested runs on Sprint's CDMA network. The device also works as a phone, although its large size makes that cumbersome for some users.

End-User Advantages

The Galaxy Note II fits nicely in the palm of the hand for note taking with the S Pen, which is activated when the stylus is removed from its slot. The device also provides voice recognition using S Voice, an analog of Apple's Siri that isn't quite as effective at recognizing questions and finding answers. The voice search function works well, however, and users can dictate notes, e-mails and the like. A large, high-definition screen lends itself to viewing videos and photos.

The Note II has two cameras: an 8-megapixel camera in the rear and a 1.9MP in front, which also supports video conferencing. The device also has GPS and supports Wi-Fi.

Why It Works for IT

Like many of Samsung's products aimed at the enterprise, the Galaxy Note boasts Samsung Approved for Enterprise certification. The SAFE security standard includes encryption, support for mobile device management, policy enforcement, and remote tracking and wiping. The Note II works with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, supports VPNs and works with VMware. Samsung's support for remote management allows IT managers to enable or disable a wide variety of services including the cameras, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, tethering and SD card use, among others.

[20]

The number of apps specifically designed for the Samsung Galaxy Note S Pen

Samsung also includes a Microsoft Office–compatible productivity suite, Polaris Office, which supports Word and Excel files and lets users work with their PowerPoint slides. Polaris integrates with the S Pen, allowing users to make handwritten comments, proofreading marks and other notations on their slides and documents.

Samsung has outfitted the Note II with every conceivable capability, from S Beam (its near field communication feature) to AllShare (its content sharing service). Samsung's Super active-matrix organic light-emitting diode display supports resolutions of 1280x720, which should meet nearly every requirement of a phone or small tablet. Overall, the Note II will fit nicely in an environment that's set up to integrate Android devices. Because of the device's support for enhanced management and security, this integration will be easier and more effective than it might be with other devices.

Disadvantages

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is really large. Its size can create challenges for users when trying to store or carry the device and when it comes to protecting its screen. Screen covers may be necessary for some deployments.

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About the Author

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a longtime technology journalist who has directed product testing centers. He is President of Wayne Rash & Associates, an analysis and editorial services firm located near Washington, D.C. He can be reached at wrash@mindspring.com. You can also follow him on Twitter as @wrash.

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