First Look: Samsung releases Galaxy Note for the enterprise

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At first glance, the Samsung Galaxy Note seems like an odd device. It seems too big to be a phone, but too small to be a tablet. The 5.3-inch AMOLED screen looks like it would be hard to handle, and impossible to store. Well, sometimes first impressions are wrong.

I first saw the Galaxy Note at CeBIT in March, and at the time it seemed like it would be cumbersome. But it also seemed to be nearly ubiquitous, although it seemed to exist in the domain of Europeans and Asians, and mostly 20-somethings at that. But now the Note is available as an enterprise device from AT&T (NYSE: T) in the United States, and it looks to be not so bad after all. It supports AT&T's LTE network, and it will work on GSM networks anywhere in the world.

The Galaxy Note fits easily into your hand, and it includes a stylus, something we haven't seen in a device since the days of Palm Pilots and iPAQs. But the clear intent of Samsung is to create a device that could serve as a hand-held notepad. The stylus slides into a space in the lower right corner of the Note, and unlike the spring-loaded styli of yesteryear, this one simply slides into place with a soft click. No more chasing your stylus under the desk with this device.

Samsung says that the Note is SAFE--Samsung Approved for Enterprise--certified which means that the device is designed for business use, so it can be managed by MDM packages, it will work with corporate email and it can use VPN software to reach into the corporate network. SAFE, according to Samsung, is a series of APIs that the company makes available to MDM providers so that the Galaxy Note can be fully integrated into the MDM solution used by most enterprises.

The stylus, which Samsung calls the S Pen, lets you write directly on the screen. You can even use the pen to take a screen shot and then annotate the image before emailing or sharing it. The device includes e-reader software, an app for annotating PDF files, Polaris Office, which lets you read and edit Microsoft Office documents and Soonr Scribble, which lets you collaborate with others. A number of other S Pen-enabled apps are available from Google Play (formerly the Android Market).

Setting up the Galaxy Note requires that you enter all of the information you'd normally enter into an Android device into a web-based wizard from AT&T on your computer. Once you complete this, the AT&T website downloads all of the information into the device for you. The information you're entering includes your Wi-Fi network data, so you have to be in reach of an AT&T cell for the data transfer before you can use the Note. However, the process is fairly painless, although you can get lost navigating the wizard if you're not careful.

While the Galaxy Note is large, it turns out it's not too large to use. In fact it fits easily into the shirt pocket of an LL Bean polo. It's thin enough that you don't mind carrying it, and the screen is easy to read. Of course, these are all things we've seen on the first day of use. We'll see how it holds up in a full review.

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