The Stylus Recalls the Old Palm Pilot at Its Best

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-05-01 Print this article Print


But, of course, the primary purpose of the S Pen is for handwriting. The Note comes with a number of apps designed to be used with the S Pen. But I found that the Note€™s handwriting recognition goes beyond just those apps designed for it. For example, I downloaded the Android version of Evernote, and found that by selecting the handwriting function on the Android on-screen keyboard, I could use handwriting recognition with Evernote.

While handwriting recognition is sensitive to how readable your handwriting is, I found that on the Note it works quite well. My fairly sloppy handwriting was deciphered accurately by the Note. In a surprise, the Note seemed to understand when I used Palm€™s old Graffiti lettering, although there were a couple of glitches that could have been related to my writing.

The Galaxy Note works fairly well as a wireless device. It supports AT&T€™s Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service when you can find it. The Note also works with the company€™s Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) service and it works with 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi.

The wireless performance was not what I€™d come to expect from AT&T€™s LTE service in the Washington, D.C., area with the Note topping out at an average download speed of approximately 7.5M bps when tested with, which provided a single test that I could use for any device. By comparison, the Nokia Lumia 900 performed the same tests over the same network at significantly higher speeds.

It€™s worth noting that the reported download speeds varied quite a bit in these tests, and as a result, some speeds were lower than those reported above. The slowest download speed reported by the Nokia Lumia 900 over AT&T€™s LTE network with the device being tested in the same location at the same time was 10M bps. The highest was above 30M bps.

A BlackBerry Bold 9900 running on T-Mobile€™s HSPA+ network demonstrated consistent speeds of 8.9M bps and higher. However, when the Note was tested on a different AT&T network, things changed dramatically. In Orlando, Fla., the same set of tests showed the Note operating at speeds between 25 and 30M bps.

The Nokia was also faster in the Orlando location and still outperformed the Note. The Washington, D.C.-area LTE tests were conducted at three widely dispersed locations with very strong LTE signals in the vicinity. The Orlando tests were conducted in the area near Kissimmee, Fla. In any case, these speeds are entirely sufficient to bust your data cap wide open if you start downloading movies at these speeds.

Although the Note is a large device for a smartphone, it€™s not as cumbersome as it might appear at first. It fits nicely into a shirt pocket, its large screen makes it easier to use than many more traditionally sized smartphones and it does a nice job of note-taking, which is apparently why Samsung created it. If it fits your needs, you could do a lot worse.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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