Category Archives: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2: How big is too big?

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Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro ™ 12.2 (Wi-Fi), White 32GB
http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-T9000ZWAXAR

Recently, I’ve had a hankering to do some inking. Using a stylus and tablet to write has a wonderfully organic feel that I’d enjoyed when using digital ink on Galaxy Note Phones and an early generation Note tablet 10.1. So, I downloaded some handwriting apps onto my iPad Mini and Kindle HDX 8.9, got out a stylus and got started. l quickly remembered why I’d always preferred Samsung Note devices and S pen — they make inking super easy… no skips or stutters.

So I visited my friendly neighborhood Best Buy. l considered the Note 10.1 2014 edition but quickly became most interested in the elusive and mystical 12.2″ Note Pro, which wasn’t on display. When I asked about it, I learned an employee had one of her own and she’d be working the following day. As promised, she was there the next day, Note Pro 12.2 in hand. She let me try it out and although I’d expected to be appalled and deterred by its size, I found it to be not only pleasant but fun to use.

What did I like?
– The screen is bright and sharp
– The ability to view up to 4 apps simultaneously is very handy
– The S pen makes the inking experience super smooth
– Samsung’s S pen handwriting recognition software works very well, even with my nearly illegible scrawl
– The Samsung Note Pro’s digital ink apps are fun and useful, and especially show off the S pens’s capabilities

Although I haven’t had it long, l’ve been surprised and delighted by the Note Pro 12.2. I got a free keyboard case with it (part of limited Samsung promotion) but haven’t used it because the S pen experience is so good.

Moral of the story? As newer, larger tablets are released, don’t knock ’em til you try’ em.

hello, pebble: initial impressions

Pebble

In April 2012, I contributed to a kickstarter project for the Pebble watch. It was a new product that would allow the wearer to link the watch to their iOS or android phone and receive a variety of notifications. Because the watch face itself is software based, the user could select from different watch faces rather than having just one standard display.

Fast forward to February 2013: My Pebble watch arrived yesterday!

Having had a day to play with my new Pebble, here are some initial impressions:

  • It’s lighter and thinner than expected
  • The epaper display is bright and easy to read in ambient light
  • I’ve only needed to use the backlight at night — it’s not super bright but does illuminate the display well enough
  • It’s large but not as large as I’d feared
  • It’s very easy to pair with the Pebble android app
  • The watch band is soft & flexible

Before my Pebble arrived, I’d already installed the Pebble android app. Because the official Pebble app currently has a limited set of notification in settings (incoming calls, SMS, calendar reminders, email, Google Talk, Google Voice, Facebook, WhatsApp) I looked online and found there are more android apps to extend Pebble integration:

While email notifications work well using the native Pebble android app, I found them distracting and turned them off. Note to Gmail two-step authentication users: You’ll need to set up an app-specific password in order to receive Gmail on your Pebble watch.
 
Samsung phone owners need to be aware that due to an apparent Samsung firmware bug, enabling the Pebble in their accessibility settings also turns on Talkback for some phone functions. Example: Now whenever I open a folder, my Note II (audibly) says “The folder is open.” I’m not hearing text to speech across the board, just in some limited instances. If it bothers you, you can try this fix (I just tried it, and it worked on my Verizon Note II):  http://www.productigeeky.com/faq/#1
 
I’d love to see a battery % status display on the watch (or within the Pebble android app). Even so, I love my Pebble and look forward to seeing additional functionality and integration enabled as developers get up and rolling.

Edited to add: Here’s a good video by The Verge that shows Pebble watch in use.

The mythical, wonderful Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2)

This spring, I decided to move over to AT&T from Verizon after learning my Verizon phone was hopelessly buggy 6 weeks into my contract, with no remedy offered by my Verizon store. Combine that issue with pockets of poor Verizon network coverage areas in my neighborhood, and I decided it was time to move my wireless service.

When I opened my AT&T account, I picked up an Infuse 4G. I’d never been fond of Samsung phones until the Infuse, and it was love at first sight: The gorgeous screen, the minimalist controls, its thin/light form factor. I was sufficiently impressed to write an Infuse 4G review.

But I kept reading about a mythical phone, the Samsung Galaxy S II. The more I read, the more curious I became… what was this wonderful phone? Could it be there was an unlocked Samsung phone similar to the Infuse but even faster and more responsive?! And thus my unicorn hunt began…

I’d had an AT&T account lucy_n73for several years, and for much of that time used unlocked Nokia phones. I realize it’s fashionable to bash Nokia lately, but I loved Nokia camera hardware and the fantastic shots Nokia phones enabled.

But I digress…
Since my Infuse was still new, I tried to distract myself but the Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2) continued to beckon. I read reviews, I visited phone import stores online, I pondered. I liked the Infuse. The problem? I thought I’d like the SGS2 even more. Finally, I decided to pick one up despite the high ticket price that goes with buying an unlocked phone.

I’ve had my SGS2 for about a month. And you know what? The SGS2 is the best cell phone I’ve ever used. Based on user reviews on CNET, I’m not alone:

  • Very responsive. No lag, no waiting.
  • Great camera and photo quality
  • Excellent voice and audio quality
  • Gorgeous, vivid screen
  • Re-sizable (!) stock widgets that are both informative and attractively minimalist
  • Thin, light, and beautiful

sgs2With most phones, there’s a certain amount of waiting… waiting for an app to open, waiting for the phone to connect to the network, waiting, waiting, waiting…

That changed with the SGS2. I never realized how speedy a phone could be. View SGS2 specs here.

There are other advantages to the SGS2:

  • I stumbled across this thread on xda-developers.com, where you can find updated SGS2 firmware along with instructions for flashing – the post originator is very sharp and generous in helping other users with questions. NOTE: Flashing these firmware doesn’t require rooting, and at the rate Samsung has been releasing regional updates to the SGS firmware, SGS2 users can always be running the latest, greatest firmware. I’m currently running the XXKF2 firmware on my SGS2 (Android 2.3.3); this firmware’s build date is 6/10/2011 (fabulous battery life with KF2 firmware, by the way!).vent-case
  • A very cool official Samsung “vent” case – a lightweight but very functional case for your SGS2. I love that its rubberized finish makes the phone grippier while its design preserves the phone’s thin, light form factor. I picked up this case on ebay.uk from ebayer bluejamgem – they put the case in the mail very quickly – I received it in about 5 business days (from the UK).
  • If you want a more substantial case, Case-Mate offers 2 SGS2 cases. I picked up a Barely There case and it offers a bit more protection than the vent case.
  • Looking for a Samsung desk dock for the SGS2? I found that the SGS2(with the vent case on) will fit into the official Samsung Infuse 4G desk dock.
  • I went with a Zagg SGS2 Invisishield screen protector bought via zagg.com since none were available locally. Because I don’t have much luck applying screen protectors, I took my shiny new phone and Zagg Invisishield to Best Buy and the nice folks there applied it for me for a small fee (well worth it, btw!!).

I only have one concern about the SGS2: I wonder what will happen when U.S. wireless carriers decide to “customize” the Galaxy S II experience. Will it become a laggy beast, like so many other smartphones? We’ll see, and I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen. I’d love for folks buying a carrier-branded SGS2 to have the same fast, responsive SGS2 experience I’m enjoying.

Bottom line: I love the SGS2 and highly recommend it unlocked. If you have questions about the SGS2, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to respond.

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook has arrived!

Last year, I applied to participate in Google‘s Chrome OS beta project. About a week later, I was amazed and delighted to find a free CR-48 on my front porch. I used the CR-48 as my main computer for 6 months, and enjoyed it. It was fun seeing Chrome OS evolve over time and I enjoyed the experience. (For more on the CR-48, see my previous posts here, here, here, and here.)

Fast forward to last week, when a Google email arrived offering the Arctic White Samsung Series 5 3G Chromebook for $499 via Gilt.com. While I thought $499 was a bit pricey for what’s essentially a netbook, I went for it. It arrived today!

My initial reaction to Samsung Series 5 Chromebook:

  • Gorgeous, solid hardware
  • Lovely white lid, adorned by Chrome logo
  • Responsive, easy to use “island” type keyboard
  • Love the matte screen
  • As with the CR-48, the cap-lock key is replaced by a search key
  • Long battery life (10+ hours)
  • 100MB Verizon 3G data per month free for 2 years (with opportunity to buy add-on data on a month-by-month basis)

 

I can see taking the Chromebook with me when traveling or when I want to work at a café – no worries about losing precious personal data if it’s lost or stolen. It’s small, light, and very portable. I enjoy the full screen view and find it fun to use.

Would I recommend Chromebook to friends? Sure, it’s easy to use, low maintenance, and super portable. Because Google is aggressively improving Chrome OS, using it becomes even more enjoyable over time. I expect the price will drop after it’s been on the market for a few months, and come Christmas may be priced to make the perfect holiday gift.