Mobile technology has certainly improved our ability to be productive (and entertained!) on the go, but that doesn't mean that it can't also weigh us down. Mobile devices come with accessories and chargers, and you have to carry them around in something too. And while an iPad or an Android Tablet can be a portable powerhouse that allows you to leave your laptop at home, wouldn't it be nice to carry even less?
Today we'll look at the Galaxy Note phone/tablet as a potential replacement for your tablet (though for comparison's sake, I will be using the iPad when specific specs are needed). Can you do everything you need to do on the go with something that (almost) fits in your pocket, rather than carrying a separate gear bag with a tablet and keyboard? Read on to find out.
Build & Design
The Galaxy Note and a larger tablet are similar in basic design, when you consider that both devices are dominated by their respective displays and have relatively little in the way of extra buttons or other hardware features beyond a power button, headphone jack, charge/sync port, and camera.
The real question here is portability -- do you want to travel as lightly as possible, with only a mobile phone in your pocket, or are you willing to carry a gear bag or backpack to accomodate a larger tablet? Will you tend to use your device on a table or desk, which is the most comfortable way to use a large tablet for an extended period of time, or are you ultra-mobile and prefer something that you can easily use one-handed?
Obviously it's impossible to directly compare a five-inch screen to the ten-inch screen you'd find on a tablet, so I won't try to do so. But the point here is that the Galaxy Note is the first smartphone to have a screen large enough, and with a high enough resolution, to be considered an actual tablet competitor.
With most smartphones, you're likely to do a great deal of squinting and scrolling when you view web sites or even when you check your calendar, so in this case bigger is generally better. The screen on the Galaxy Note is large enough to be truly useful, with fewer compromises, and it's even big enough to make watching movies and TV shows on the go a pleasant experience instead of a painful one. It also works effectively with apps like the Splashtop Remote Desktop, in case you need to access your home computer while you're on the road.
If you want a more immersive experience, a tablet may be the right choice for you, though you'll have to decide if what you're giving up in portability is worth it to you when you consider that the Galaxy Note is small enough to fit in (almost) any pocket, no gear bag required.
When you're doing major data entry, neither device truly wins, because you'll need an external keyboard. Fortunately all of the devices under consideration here, from the Galaxy Note to the iPad to the cornucopia of Android tablets currently available all have Bluetooth support and work with external wireless keyboards. If you're willing to carry around an extra peripheral, it doesn't matter if you choose the Galaxy Note or another device, you can write the next Great American Novel on the go if you have the talent.
When it comes to virtual keyboards, the Galaxy Note has the edge, because it's easier to use. When you're using a tablet, you either have to prop it up on a table or desk or hold it awkwardly and tiresomely in both hands, and it can get very heavy, very fast. With the Galaxy Note, you can text and type on the virtual onscreen keyboard with ease, and even one-handed if you prefer.
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