Samsung was kind enough to bring us to their second Unpacked event to showcase the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear Smart Watch. Slick and I arrived early and got to not only see the simulcast from Berlin, but also a performance by Icona Pop who performed some new songs and gave attendees a peak at the Galaxy Gear prior to the announcement.
The feed from Berlin was cut short due to some technical issues, but we took it in stride since it gave us more time to play with not only with the Galaxy Note 3 but also with the Galaxy Gear and Note 10.1 2014 edition that was also unveiled. I am going to break up my thoughts by device so that each gets broken down fully. I'll start with the Note 3.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
As an owner of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, I was looking forward to seeing what enhancements the Note 3 had in store. I can honestly say the newly announced features blew me away because they would be improving tasks I perform on it daily. The one that jumped out was Action Memo which allows you to execute functions from notes taken with the S-Pen. Let's say you jot down a phone number in Action Memo. The note will then have the option of either being saved as a contact or dialed. If it's an address, then you can look it up on map. Web addresses that are written down can be pulled up on the browser and tasks can even be saved to your to-do list. Here are the full breakdowns of the notable features straight from Samsung:
- Action Memo allows users to handwrite a note, and automatically execute a function or convert that handwritten information into formatted content. Action Memo can instantly initiate a call, add to contacts, look up an address on a map, search the web, save a task to a to-do list, and more.
- Scrapbook enables users to organize or track down content and information from various sources including the web, YouTube and Gallery in one place so that users can easily look back at collected content all at once. When consumers save content for future use, Scrapbook also collects source material or URLs allowing them to easily refer back to the original source.
- The Screen Write feature captures the full screen image of the current page on the device and allows users to write comments or additional information onto the captured image.
- S Finder allows users to expansively search for content on their device regardless of the type. By putting in keywords or filters such as date, location, and content type, users can search related documents, events, communication threads, and even the Help page – all in one place. In addition, users can also search for hand-written content in their Notes and memo applications, as well as symbols and formulas.
- Pen Window allows users to use the S Pen not only for drawing sketches or writing notes, but now also for opening a small application window for a true multitasking experience. Simply by drawing a window of any size, anywhere on the screen, users can easily and quickly open another application window such as YouTube, calculator or Browser without pausing current activity on the screen.
Now that I shared my thoughts on the features let's talk hardware. The Note 3 is bit larger (5.7 inch screen) than the Note II (5.5 inch screen) but it is noticeably thinner, which shocked me since the Note II is quite thin without a case.
As you can see, even with the metal bumper I have on (my own Note 2 is on the right) you can see the Note III is taller. Now you are probably are asking yourself, “how do they differ internally”? Here is a full breakdown of differences between the two devices.[table id=1 /]
The Samsung Galaxy Note III is a substantial improvement over the Note 2 not only in terms of features but overall appearance as well. The faux leather back adds a nice bit of sophistication versus the scuff-prone back of the Note II. While I am sure you would love to read my fawning over this device, I think the pictures we took at the event can do the talking for us.
One of the coolest features that I waited the longest to demo was the Group Play feature which allows multiple Note III devices to be combined in order to yield a larger video. While I am sure this is not a feature I'd use often, it is a nice feature to have. Check out the brief demo below.
Samsung Galaxy Gear
The first salvo in the war for your wrist has been fired by Samsung! While smart watches have been out for quite some time, they have not gained the traction that many expected. Samsung came out of the gate with a visually attractive piece of companion tech that may be just what the doctor ordered to sway people toward smart watches. The Galaxy Gear is more than a run of the mill smart watch as it seeks to dethrone not only brands like Pebble and Sony who have products on the market, but also challenge fitness bands with it's slew of apps and a built-in pedometer. The Galaxy Gear will allow you to view text messages, emails and even incoming calls at quick glance. If you want to channel your inner Dick Tracy you can also do voice calls with the Gear without touching the screen using voice commands. It doesn't end with just calls either as you can also draft messages, create calendar entries, set alarms and even check the weather. The one thing that seemed a bit out of place was the camera on the band, but Samsung feels users may want to capture videos and photos in pinch. I think the voice memo feature is the more useful feature when compared to photos and video from a 1.9 megapixel camera but someone will definitely get use out of the feature. What about just telling time? The Gear does that quite well actually and offers 10 different clock options to start with more available via download from the Samsung app store. In addition to customizable faces, users have a wide selection of colors to choose from at launch including: Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green. The MSRP for the watch as of this post seems to be $299 but I am sure carriers will find a way to bundle the watch with the Note 3 since it is the only compatible device at launch. Don't worry S4 owners, the Gear will work with your phones as well eventually – but not at launch. Here is a glimpse of the Gear and some of its features.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)
The 10.1 inch Note tablet brings along all the enhancements showcased in its mobile counterpart and gets a significant power boost but keeps its svelte design that has made it gain a noticeable foothold in the tablet market. Octa Core processing and 3GB of RAM will definitely give users ample power over all their creative endeavors. Here is a full spec breakdown:[table id=2 /]
While I personally would have liked to see the 8-inch Note tablet get the refresh treatment, I definitely am impressed with the refinements made to the 10.1 Note. Here are some photos of our time with the new Note tablet:
Samsung had a tremendous showing and really gave tech enthusiasts a lot to look forward to. I know that the Note III will most likely be a day one purchase for me. I will give some thought to the Galaxy Gear, only because it would be interesting to see how well it would integrate into my daily workflow. We won't have to wait long though to get our hands on all these devices since the rollout will begin on 9/25 and carriers are already accepting pre-orders.
Thanks to the crew at Samsung for their hospitality. Make sure to check out Slick's thoughts on the Note III as well.