Want to reduce your tech load and carry just one device? Read on…

The other morning, a man arrived at our local coffee shop for his morning perk and on the table next to his latte, he placed a pile of gadgets, of varying size. There was an iPad, a BlackBerry Bold, an iPhone and two laptops. Though we’re usually hesitant to pass judgement, this seemed a little extreme. But perhaps this is the man that the Samsung product team had in mind when they designed their new Note, a 5.3 inch is-it-a-phone-or-is-it-a-tablet device. Head of mobile at Samsung SA Paolo Ferreira says this, “It’s for the guy who wants only one device, but a tablet is too big and a smartphone is too small.”

Samsung’s filled the gap between their 10.1”, 8.9”, 7” tablets and 4.3” Galaxy S II smartphone. But after a closer look, it seems to be more than that. The first clue is the slide-out stylus, which we thought we’d seen the last of, with the newer and better capacitive touchscreens. “Ah yes”, we say. “That’s why it’s called the Note. It’s a notepad!” The ‘Advanced Smart Pen’ is quite useful actually, allowing handwritten notes, detailed drawings and especially for editing intricate spreadsheets.

It’s always a pleasure reviewing Android phones. Just type in a username and password and within seconds, the phone is yours with all contacts, mail and calendars updated. The 2.3 Gingerbread operating system tells us it’s not really a tablet (which use the 3.0 version). It’s not a bad thing. Android tablet UIs are a little annoying, we wish they were more like the phones. Other notables on the spec sheet are: 16GB / 32GB of built-in storage, a powerful dual-core 1.4GHz ARM processor and a fast 8-megapixel camera capable of HD video. But it’s really all about the crisp, bright and huge AMOLED screen.

Being 9.7mm thin and surprisingly lightweight the size of the device somehow doesn’t seem to matter, as it fits neatly into a jeans or jacket pocket. It’s just that when you make a call, you look as if you have a small head. It’s like having a bar of Lindt chocolate at your ear. This might convince us to resort to a Bluetooth headset (emphasis on ‘might’). Getting down to it, dump the bloatware free apps and you really just have a larger version of the new Galaxy, with a stylus. With the extra size, we loved watching movies, editing documents (if you love your work, that is) and navigating especially.

It may be aimed at those who’d like to reduce their tech load and carry just one device, but perhaps Samsung haven’t realised one thing about gadget freaks. Maybe they actually want to carry a whole lot of devices.

R9000