Samsung's big news is the Galaxy Note


Samsung's Galaxy Note from AT&T is more than just another Android phone. It is a phone, of course, but it's mostly designed to be a hand-held note-taking device that includes a stylus, has handwriting recognition, voice dictation and even a notepad app. It's about the size of a reporter's notebook, which means it's pretty big for a phone.

But as it turns out, it's just about the right size for that primary use. It fits your hand, so you can use it to take notes. Of course there's more to the Galaxy Note than just that. It's an Android phone with a 5.3-inch AMOLED screen, it uses AT&T's (NYSE: T) LTE network, and it's a great size for things like viewing videos or use as an e-reader. Oh, and you can use it to make phone calls, although it's big enough that it looks a little strange when you hold it up to your face.

But because it's the size it is, the Galaxy Note is nice for things like video conference calls, and it's useful if you have to use the Internet and actually read the results. But perhaps more importantly, the Galaxy Note is one of Samsung's SAFE certified wireless devices.

Being SAFE--Samsung Approved for Enterprise--certified means that Samsung has included enterprise features such as broad support for mobile device management, and it can work with corporate VPNs and corporate email. The MDM support is such that MDM software can manage the phone at even the deepest levels. Your IT staff will have complete management control over this device, and can track it or wipe it as needed. Samsung includes the required APIs necessary for the phone to work with most MDM software.

What's notable about the Galaxy Note is that it includes a stylus. The stylus, which Samsung calls the S Pen, lets you write on the screen in most applications requiring text input, and the embedded handwriting recognition converts it into text. The handwriting recognition works fairly well--in fact it actually understood my handwriting, which is more than I can do myself sometimes. But the handwriting function is more than just a way to enter data. You can also create handwritten notes that retain the actual handwriting. You can also make drawings and sketches, and then email the results to someone else.

If this reminds you of the long-gone (and greatly missed) Palm Pilot, it should. But this isn't just the Palm Pilot revisited, although it does have some similar functions. For one thing, the S Pen is a sort of smart pen, in that it includes a button that will let the S Pen expand its functions (tap the screen twice while pressing the pen button and it opens the memo pad app). On the other hand, I tried handwriting using the old Graffiti language from the Palm, and the Galaxy Note seemed to understand it.

As a wireless device, the Galaxy Note performs well. It handles reasonably fast LTE speeds, although the previously reviewed Nokia Lumia 900 is faster. Overall, it works well in the niche for which it was designed, but it still looks a little strange when you use it to make a phone call.

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