Monday, November 5, 2012

Why I Chose The Galaxy Note 10.1 Over The iPad

When it came time for me to admit that I needed to downgrade from a laptop I decided a tablet was for me. The caviot was that I had never used a tablet before outside of the few moments playing Angry Birds on one at a cell phone store while waiting for my data transfer to be done on my upgraded cell phone, which, by the way, just happened to be a Samsung Galaxy.

I decided I wanted a tablet because I wanted even more portability than a laptop could afford. I was tred of trying to balance my laptop on the edge of the couch just to read an article but even a Kindle Fire e-reader frustrated me with its limitations. I still wanted to surf the internet, edit, post and take pictures.

I started my search by polling my friends on facebook and the overwhelming opinion was that I should get an iPad. Since I already had a MacBookPro that seemed like a reasonable suggestion. I decided to keep an open mind to other options, however, and began searching the internet for other tablet options. I looked at Asus, Google, Sony, Apple, and couldn't find a tablet that had it all--at least not all that I wanted but the iPad was the closest. I decided the iPad was it. The only thing left was to go to a place like Best Buy and try it out before I bought it.

I got to Best Buy's tablet counter and was immediately greeted by a clerk eager to help me out. He asked me a lot of questions as to my intended purpose with my tablet. He asked me about my music preferences, movie watching, experience with tablets and much more. He was just about to agree with me about getting an iPad when I asked, "Now, is there any third party apps or products that allow my to write on the iPad like a notebook?"

He said, "I'm sure there are, but have you considered the Samsung Galaxy Note?"

I knew Samsung made the phone they called the Note with a stylus but I had no idea they had made that into a tablet.

It didn't take me long to fall in love.

What are the things that sold me?

1. SNote and the SPen.
I could spend hours (and probably will) playing in SNote. I'm drawing pictures, editing, writing. It's so much fun. While I'm sure that there are comparable apps and products for the iPad, it comes standard with the Galaxy Note 10.1 which makes it a bonus for the money. I also love the fact that you can turn off all input except for the pen so that you can write with your hand resting on the screen and not have to worry about accidental scribbles, lines and input confusion.

It also has a handwriting-to-type option that allows you to write with the pen just like you would on a piece of paper and the tablet converts it into type. It is amazingly accurate and kind of fun though I still haven't gotten used to it or figured out in which context I would use it. Shopping lists, perhaps?

2. SD card storage.
The Galaxy is very competitively priced with the iPad. However, when you buy the iPad the amount of storage is the amount of storage. If you want more storage you need to buy a bigger iPad. Not so with the Note. I can buy any size of SD card I want and be happy with the extra storage without having to buy a different machine.

3. Widgets
One thing I was willing to give up by going to the iPad was my widgets. I'm not a huge widget user but the widgets I do use I use daily. My calendar and weather widgets on my phone are my go-to widgets for the start of my day. I was a little bummed to not be able to have my widgets on the iPad but what is it really to make a tap or two to the info you want? It was a sacrifice I was willing to make. Then I saw the widgets on the Note. I won't lie. Seeing the option for widgets made me happy.

4. Front facing speakers
Let's face it, speakers on tablets and phones generally stink. You find yourself with your hand cupped under your machine to try to direct the sound to the front where it belongs. To have two (not just one) speakers that already face you is just awesome and they sound great.

5. Camera with a flash
I'll admit it, I'm a shudder bug. I have two kids and I take way too many pictures of them. To have a flash for those less-than-ideal picture moments is great. The iPad still doesn't have a flash and I'm not sure why. Both have the front view cameras for face time or Skype though.

6. Photoshop
The iPad has iPhoto for editing photos into those charming works of art though even those who have iPhoto seem to use third party editing software more than iPhoto. Having used Photoshop in school and for many years after I am well aware of the potential of Photoshop. I didn't expect it to be so good, however. It's not just generalized editing. It is the full potential of Photoshop to include layers, color replacement and so much more. This is a program I expected to be something I would have to pay big bucks for. Instead I learned it was included. It is more complicated than iPhoto but the results are amazing and there are tutorials to help users use the program to its full potential.

7. Immediate screen shots ready to be edited
When I asked the Best Buy employee how to take a screen shot on the iPad we both stared at the machine for a solid minute before we decided it was certainly possible b6t neither of us could figure out how. I've since learned that you simply have to hold down the power button and press the home button--easy. But what's easier than a button on the screen? There is a button next to the home button and the navigate button that looks like a little screen with a star in it. Touch that and you have a screen shot. But that's not nearly as good as taking screen shots with the SPen. There is a button on the SPen. Hold down that button and touch the screen and "CLICK" you have a screen shot. Then, an editing program automatically opens that allows you to draw on, crop and basically edit the image before you can share it via and number of common outlets.

8. Multiscreen Mode
I don't know if the iPad has this feature or not, but the Galaxy can go duo-mode on me. And I LOVE it! I'm a researcher and note taker. It is not unlike me at all to be reading a book and decide I want to look a fact up on the internet or write a note about what I just read. Yeah, I could close out of my book or switch between it and the internet and/or get out the traditional pen and paper or I could tap a button that splits my screen in half and gives me the option to open the internet or SNote and do my research and take my notes without ever leaving my page. Maybe I want to take a picture of what I just read or saw, point out something funny and send it off to a friend. All possible without ever closing my source of inspiration. I've even found myself with step-by-step drawing instructions on one screen with SNote on the other, whipping out cartoons. And more fun is sure to come.

9. Lightweight
One of the reasons I wanted a tablet to begin with is I wanted something I could sit on the couch with and use with one hand while I nursed my daughter. Or something I could prop up on the kitchen counter with a recipe from the internet without losing counter space or having to worry about getting flour in my keyboard. Of course both the iPad and the Galaxy Note 10.1 are lightweight but the Galaxy is a few ounces less than the iPad. Something to note for those intending on holding it for a long time.

10. Battery Life
When I got the Note 10.1 it was at 29% battery life. It was around 3 in the afternoon and the tablet survived being played with until around 9 pm that night. I plugged it in. It charged completely overnight and at 9 the next morning I unplugged it and began using it almost non-stop. I was drawing, surfing the internet, taking video and pictures, editing video and pictures, listening to Pandora while I cleaned, letting my son play with a coloring book app, downloading apps, typing, reading books and personalizing the many home screens. When I finally gave up and went to bed at 10 pm the battery still had 20% left. The next morning I got up at 7 and started writing my shopping list in SNote. Somewhere around 8 am I got a low battery warning and was advised to plug in my tablet but I have no doubt I could have continued to use it for another hour. That is roughly 14 hours of constant usable and a full 25 hours between charges. To say I was impressed is an understatement. I was blown away. I'm lucky if my laptop gets 4 hours between charges and even my cell phone needs to be charged at least every 8 hours and that's with very minimal usage.

I read somewhere that tablets are luxury items because they cannot replace laptops or cell phones. True, I cannot type as fast or accurately on the tablet as I can my laptop and even though there is a "print" option in my tablet options I have not figure out how to get it to print to my wireless printer, something that is not a problem with my laptop. Obviously, I cannot make phone calls on the tablet and since I didn't opt for a tablet with built in cellular coverage, once I leave my house or any other wireless hotspot everything that requires internet effectively dies but such is the case with my laptop as well and if I were to get a mobile hotspot on my phone that would no longer be an issue. Not to mention one can throw a stone in any direction in most towns and hit at least two mobile hotspots, including places like Burger King, Starbucks, McDonalds and others.

I was able to write most of this blog on the tablet only switching to my MaBookPro when I got the low battery warning on my tablet. I find the typing easy enough but I wished I could prop it up just a little better. Since I didn't buy any kind of case yet I have been experimenting with the best ways to hold, prop, type and otherwise position my tablet while preforming different functions. I know I will eventually be getting a keyboard folio of some sorts to accompany my tablet and allow me the option to make it into a pseudo-laptop when needed which will effectively make my laptop obsolete.

I know I'm a little enamored right now and we'll see how much I'm still loving my tablet in a few weeks. But I think, for now, I've made a very solid choice in which tablet I thought was best for my needs.

Galaxy Note 10.1 all the way!

Why do stores not decorate for Thanksgiving?

Stores sell merchandize. Their goal is to get a profit. And almost anything can be merchandized (and is). The two holidays that engulf Thanksgiving are two of the most merchandized holidays in existence.

One of these holidays is Halloween, a holiday centered around costume parties, candy and a social permission to explore your darker side with scary movies. Decorations of pumpkins, ghosts, haunted houses, costumes for the latest movie, bags of candy. What's left not to merchandize?

On the other end we have Christmas. The most merchandized holiday of the year. It all started with the magi and we've been gift giving ever since. This is the one time of year that stores can literally merchandize everything because absolutely everything is up for grabs. On top of the compulsion to find that perfect gift for every individual you know, there are also Christmas trees, wreaths, bulbs, lights, stockings, plastic Santas and snow men to put in your front yard because you're too lazy or there's not enough snow to make a real one (Curse you, global warming!!).

Anyway, it makes perfect business sense that stores would be getting people thinking about these two holidays almost as soon as possible. While strolling through WalMart in September for toothpaste you see the bright orange boxes and Halloween masks hanging on the wall and think, "Wow, it's almost Halloween. That's a really good price on bags of KitKats. I should grab two."

Then you eat them both before Halloween and have to stop and get more the night before all those trick-or-treaters show up at your door.

Not to mention you have the post-holiday 50% off sale and while walking the aisles on your way to getting toilet paper you see the adorable raven and bat lantern that was $4. You take it home for $2 feeling like you've gotten a good deal even though somewhere in your head you known that WalMart probably got it in bulk for 50 cents a lantern. (True Story.. That lantern is sitting on my kitchen counter and looking cute while doing it, too.)

And not only can you pick up those 50% off Halloween items, but down the aisle you can also get your pick of Christmas lights and tree toppers in one stop because at 12:00 am on November 1, the midnight staff of your local WalMart was rolling out their Christmas stock and rearranging the store to house it all.

But what about Thanksgiving? Why is it overlooked?

Because you can't merchandize thankfulness. It's one of the very few ideas that actually challenges people not to spend but rather to sit back and appreciate what one has.

Yeah, you might see the occasional cartoon cut out pilgrim and talking turkey gag gift and but for the elegant, fall colored tablecloths and loads of frozen turkeys, there's nothing to sell to make someone feel like they are in the Thanksgiving spirit. You don't have to buy the perfect costume or the biggest, shiniest tree. You don't have to make your house look the ghoulishist on the block or the brightest. There's no candy to give out and no picky aunt to satisfy. All there is to eat, watch football and appreciate what you already have.

I, for one, am okay with Thanksgiving being cast aside by the merchandizing kings. Why? Because it should be left alone. Yes, I wish there were more social reminders of its approaching and more time spent celebrating and appreciating it and maybe at least a week after Halloween before we start seeing Christmas decorations out of respect. I'd love to walk into a store and just see a banner that said, "Be Thankful." But, that wouldn't encourage people to spend, would it, so what's the point?

So, we'll just have to stop relying on (or getting angry at) stores for dictating our holidays. 

We can celebrate Thanksgiving far better than they can anyway and we can do it without spending a dime.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be Thankful!