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Samsung Galaxy Note II -- I like it even better than the original
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Samsung Galaxy Note II — I like it even better than the original

Some of you may recall that when I looked at the original Note I was prepared to hate this…too big to be a phone…not quite big enough to be a tablet…Phablet but ended up liking it. Well, I’m over the hating part and love this Note II right from the get go. The new Note is a bit wider and a bit narrower than the original and it is loaded with power and features.

 

The Note II also has a blazing fast 1.6-gigahertz quad-core chip — one of the fastest on the market — and 2-gigabytes of RAM, ensuring apps run smoothly no matter how many are in the background. With such a large display, it’ll eat up power quickly. Luckily, Samsung included a whopping 3,100 mAh battery for plenty of juice, enough to last you through two days with reasonable use. As  well, it comes with Android 4.1, “Jelly Bean” which smoother and easier to navigate than ever before…And Google Now, and “cards,” grabs flight data, weather reports, appointments and even sports scores for a more convenient interface.

Then there is the 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen — one of the most colorful and vibrant we’ve seen. It’s also absolutely massive, so watching movies and videos are fantastic — so detailed and sharp, you’ll forget your carrying around a phone. At 720-by-1,280 resolution, and a true 16:9 aspect ratio, the Note 2 has a few less pixels than the original Note, which is 800-by-1,280. But you won’t notice the 80 missing pixels, images are crystal clear images from any viewing angle, making it ideal under just about any conditions.

Now to features…the Note II is so loaded with features I can only touch on some of them here…suffice it to say if you want it to do something it probably can. Let’s start with the Note II’s marquee feature the S-Pen…Samsung doesn’t want you to call it a stylus…The Pen and Wacom digitizer have more in common with the Note 10.1 than the original Note. First, the device recognizes when you’ve removed the pen from its holster and, assumes you’ll be using it, so, it takes you to a special page with several pen-optimized apps. (It also lets you set an alarm that activates if your S Pen and Note get too far away from each other.) Also, much like the tablet, the Note II is capable of recognizing up to 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, a four-fold increase over the original Note’s 256. I noticed an improvement in accuracy and precision plus, the screen does a much better job of calculating how much pressure you’re applying so it is an overall better experience.

The new digitizer features Air View: The S Pen, doesn’t need to touch the screen to do something useful — it can be detected while floating above the display too. This ability is used in various Samsung applications to trigger content previews such as the calendar (S Planner), or for showing video previews by floating above the timeline during playback. The Note 2’s stylus, or S Pen, doesn’t need to touch the screen to do something useful — it can be detected while floating above the display too. This ability is used in various Samsung applications to trigger content previews such as the calendar (S Planner), or for showing video previews by floating above the timeline during playback. You can also take clippings by holding the S Pen’s button down and drawing a closed shape around anything saves the enclosed screen contents as an image. The image can be sent to the clipboard, sent as email or MMS, or saved in the S Note application for later.

If you are a note taker, you will love the S Note app, you can take handwritten notes, draw sketches and if you are like me, artistically challenged the idea sketch feature allows you to write what you want and it will offer you several sketches…cool!  The Not2 II can be set to ignore all but the pen so palm pressure on the screen doesn’t result in unwanted palm prints. Handwriting recognition is better, but it still has a lot of difficulty with my chicken scratching. Speaking of scratching I have only been able to scratch the suface of the pen enabled features..if you buy this phone plan to spend some time sorting out all the things you can.

The front camera like the Galaxy S3 is a 1.9 megapixel device which is more than adequate for video calls..and actually takes half decent self portraits :). The rear camera is also pretty much the same hardware as the GS 3 with a few extra features notably it has a new “best face” mode, which is Samsung’s version of Scalado Rewind: it takes five group photos and lets you choose the best faces–just take the best of each person and put them together in one magical finished product. Overall the camera takes excellent stills under most lighting conditions and found the the flash more powerful than most so flash pictures looked good. You can leave your point and shoot at home.

Pretty much the same story shooting 1080p video..Anti Shake worked well.

http://youtu.be/YE_VSnTUeUw

We mustn’t forget that above all this is also a phone and like pretty much everything the Note II does that well too. Voice quality in both directions is excellent and the phone performed well even in marginal locations. Data on the Telus LTE network was very good at the edges of the high speed coverage and blazing fast in the middle of the LTE footprint.

I have barely scratched the surface of all the whistles and bells in the Galaxy note II. I can say it is a great phone…tablet..media player…it does pretty much everything it sets out to do perfectly. If you’re in the market for a larger smartphone or a small tablet, there really is no better choice.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is available from just about every carrier in Canada and in then US from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless  and US Cellular. It is not cheap, running around $199 on the three year term in Canada and $299 on a two year term in the US. If you are shopping in Canada and are not under contract to another carrier let me suggest Telus because of its fast network and great customer service…I have been using Telus for 5 years and very satisfied.

[ratingbox]

 

 

 

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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