Notes on the Note

I have just taken delivery of my brand new Samsung Galaxy Note, and I must say so far I’m very pleased. After the rather aggravating experience of the iPad I was a bit wary of going to another new operating system, but Android is nowhere so “alien” as iOS.

In many ways this is a more direct successor to my much-loved HP iPaqs than a current Windows phone. First, you can drive it with a stylus, which I find dramatically more efficient and accurate on a small device. You can choose and customise input methods, and they then work everywhere. I’ve found an excellent keyboard with predictive text called Swiftkey, but the standard keyboard, Swype and voice dictation work as well. It has a proper file system, so file management is independent of the application, and both USB and cloud solutions work with minimal effort.

Getting my applications in order has also not been too painful. Many of my favourites from my Windows devices have Android equivalents, so I quickly implemented OneNote, TreNotes and several others. There’s an Android version of SoftMaker Office, so no repeat of the iPad problems with Office files, although I’m not convinced the Android version as mature as the Windows Mobile one. The “missing” sync function for Outlook was a bit puzzling, but I discovered that I already owned some software (Sync2) which syncs Outlook to Google, solving that problem.

The main “serious” app challenge was password management. CodeWallet Pro no longer exists, and while SafeWallet is a reasonable replacement transferring the data was not trivial. However an hour with a bunch of different text editors and manually converting a flat text export file into an XML import seems to have worked.

Sadly, my favourite games are a different matter. Very few seem to have made the transition to Android. Common choices like Sodoku will be fine, but I may have to bid farewell to others.

Downsides? Not many. Yes, it’s very big for a phone, but not big enough to displace the iPad, although it may relegate the Kindle to sunny day duty. Battery life may be poorer than either the iPad or HTC Touch HD2, but should still do a day of heavy use, or two days of lighter duties.

It’s going to take a little while to get completely to grips with a whole new OS, but so far I’m amazed how quickly and smoothly things have gone. Wish me luck!

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