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I am a pen and paper girl deep down. I think it is a bit of an old dog/no new trick problem, but I have trouble fully adopting the digital age when it comes to note taking and task organization. I have a desk calendar and MANY notebooks. My creativity seems to flow better out the end of an ink pen. The click clacking of a keyboard is distracting and I can hardly compose a text without typos on my phone so I could not imagine something more substantial like a blog post. My desk is a tidy mess of folders and piles of paper that keep me organized and inspired. However, I was starting to feel really scattered with so many different modes of information storage. What used to inspire me was now causing me stress. But how could I do without my paper?
Then I saw the commercials for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 on TV.
See, I am also a technology addict. Strange mix, I know. What that means is that I end up with a lot of stuff in my handbag. I knew I wanted that phone as soon as I saw it and then I got the chance to review it!
I even used to carry around the printed calendar of daily photo prompts for Project Life 365 in my purse, but I just took a photo of the current month and am using that as my background screen! Now I can check whenever and wherever right from the device that does the picture taking anyway!
I struggled with how I would format this review basically because this phone has almost too many features and cool tricks to master quickly. It would also mean a really LONG post. That is only one of the two negative things I can even say about this gadget…if having and doing too much is even considered a negative. So, I thought I would just get the two downfalls out of the way first and then move on to my favorite features and a quick look at how the Samsung Galaxy Note II has transformed my paper mess into a compact digital powerhouse.
After the issue of so many new and interesting features to learn, the only concern I had was that the Note II felt too plastic. Again, this is not a problem for me because I always buy a case for my gadgets. It does not matter their build, I feel like handheld devices are better protected and frankly cuter when they are dressed up. I hopped onto ebay and bought a red leather wallet case for my Note II and now it feels a bit more solid.
I think the plastic build helps keep the weight down on this device too. Which leads me to my two favorite features!
Size :: The Samsung Galaxy Note II is BIG! I like having the space to actually see what I am doing when I am working on the device. From photo editing to texting, it is just easier to use. At the same time, it does not feel like you are holding a flat screen television up to your face to make a call.
The battery :: The Samsung 3100mAh battery (which has a great life already) is replaceable, so you can have a fresh one charging to be popped right in.
So what are some of the highlights that make the Note so darn cool and useful?
S Pen :: Handwriting anytime, any app. Comments on Instagram? Yep, I write those. Same with Facebook status updates…the text you see was just handwritten on the screen and magically turned into typing. All my notes and tasks and even emails are now done this way with handwriting into text. Again, I am a fast writer and a slow typist, so this works well for me. If you are thinking you might lose that fancy little stylus, you can set the device to ring an alarm if you walk away and have forgotten to reinsert the S pen into the slot. Trust me, it works.
I love notes. The S Pen allows you to write on a pop up note without leaving the current screen just by removing it from the slot. It is like having a Post-it note pad always handy. You can also use the pen to take a screenshot. Click the button on the S Pen while holding the pen to the the screen and voila, photo of your screen. Not only does it take the screenshot as normal, but you can edit it right then and there before saving, so if you would like to make notes on it, you can without opening the screenshot up in any other programs. So cool.
Motion :: This set of features has to be enabled and set up first, but once you do it, there is no reason to go back. I can now get an overview of my phone just by reaching for the screen when the device is off. Also, If I have forgotten to turn the phone off and it starts to make any sounds, I just turn it over and it mutes itself.
Voice commands :: This is now my built in assistant. I have named the whole Note II device “Pearl” (what, you don’t name your gadgets?) after being able to fire/uninstall my personal assistant app that I used to use on my old phone. I can say “Hello Pearl” and my phone turns on. I can then say “Let’s take pictures” and Pearl opens up the camera. You can set it up to do so much this way, but it is just another of the multifaceted features of this device that I am still learning.
Split screen :: Just like you can imagine, it is the ability to use two apps at the same time. There are a limited number of apps that it works with, but they are useful ones. Makes it easy to goof off on Facebook while writing notes for my posts.
How do I use it to stay organized?
S Note :: This is the pre installed app that manages the notes that you take on the device. It creates a system of folders so that you can keep your digital mess all tidy. It is basically like they made a virtual version of my desk.
Any notes I take on the fly (remember how I mentioned the pop-up note screen that launches when you remove the S Pen?) end up saved to the general folder and can easily be arranged into the specific subfolder when you have more time. It is like placing your notes in the same “In box” each time. I know where they are and can file them properly later.
If I want to take any ideas that I jotted down and work them into a blog post or other document, I just copy and paste into Google Drive. That is where I do all of my word processing as it is something I can get to no matter where I am or on what device. I even paid to upgrade my storage there. I no longer need any sort of Word programs. Also, saving your work in Google Drive happens as you go so if your device crashes, you are not losing anything!
The best part of it all is that I can share any note that I take in the S Note program with my Springpad system. I have mentioned how I love Springpad before and I am still using it to keep all elements of my many projects, wish lists, recipes and more privately and securely saved across all of my technology, be it web or Android gadget. So if the document does not need further editing in Google Drive, it goes right into Springpad.
Ideas I have now, get immediately translated to a note. If I have time, I can make sure it gets filed right away, but if not, I don’t worry. I know just where I will find it.
With the ability to draw notes in this application using the S Pen, I can make mind maps and actual mock-up of design elements. This is perfect for me as I am able to share what is in my head with my web designer instead of having to explain what I want in words. Since I do not know many proper design terms, but I know what I want it to look like, I can now just “show” her.
I am still working out the best Task management system for me. I have left Wunderlist for the moment to try Astrid Tasks. That app allows you to convert emails and web pages into tasks. It also schedules tasks directly to your calendar if you have a specific deadline. Since it works directly with Google where I have all my calendars organized online, I would say Astrid is the frontrunner. The cute little pop up reminders don’t hurt either! I love apps with great design and a sense of humor. I have yet to buy the Premium version of Astrid Tasks as I have not made up my mind completely. I will let you know!
I have also installed a new model release application called Model Release Master. It was only $4.00 and works with the S Pen. I do all of my model releases at the time of the shoot and the client can sign it right there on the device.
Finally, the camera. It is great. When I just want to leave the house with my phone and no other image capturing device, I know that I can rely on it to do a great job. Plus I can open it with my voice command! I play around with quite a few different apps for editing, but my favorites for this device are Snapseed (below left) and PicsPlay Pro (below right). Like every other device, I enabled instant upload with G+ so that I know I have a backup of all images taken with the Note II online in case anything happens before I backup to my home computer.
I am still going through and learning all of the things that the Samsung Galaxy Note II can do, but in the short time I have had it, I have made a dent in a LONG standing paper habit. I never thought that would be possible.