A show stopper


  • Technology
  • Tuesday, 11 Sep 2012

IMPRESSIVE: People watching a presentation of the Samsung Galaxy Note II tablet computer at IFA. Samsung hogged the limelight with its parade of gadgets at the consumer electronics and home appliances tradeshow. — Reuters

Samsung makes an impressive showing at the IFA 2012 with a slew of devices big and small.

SAMSUNG once again hogged the ­limelight with its parade of gadgets at the IFA 2012 consumer electronics and home appliances tradeshow in Berlin.

The star of the show was, aptly, the big and powerful Galaxy Note II phone. It was last year, at the same event, that the company unveiled the original Note to the world which opened up a new category of smart mobile devices.

“The Note II will help users unleash their inner creativity by letting them discover ­information faster, capture ideas, and express them in a more organised and efficient ­manner,” said J.K. Shin, president and head of IT mobile communications division.

Despite having a slightly bigger screen, the company managed to shave off a few ­millimetres, making the device thinner than the predecessor.

It is available in three sizes — 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB — and comes with an SD memory card slot for expanding the memory.

It runs on Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), has a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor, slightly larger 5.5in HD Super AMOLED screen (the original Note has 5.3in display) and a nifty suite of applications. The larger screen which has a 16:9 ratio is ideal for watching movies on the go.

It also has an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera, and also comes with tons of shooting modes like Buddy Photo Share, Burst Shot and Best Photo.

Users can also personalise photos by leaving handwritten notes on the back of the photo using the stylus. The notes can be shared with others in JPEG format.

For more precise, comfortable and natural writing and drawing experience, the device’s stylus — known as the S Pen — has also been enhanced. It is slightly longer, thicker and is sensitive to 1,024 levels of pressure.

When the dedicated S Pen button is pressed, the user can capture (and crop) anything ­on-screen. Users can also edit the image — they can colour, shade or include a note — before sharing it.

The Note also comes a new feature called Air View for viewing content in e-mail ­messages and S-Planner as well as image and video gallery without “actually opening them.”

All they need to do is hover the S Pen over the message or gallery to quickly see more of the content.

Also, the Popup Note feature opens the S Note instantly as a pop-up window anywhere on the screen when the user pulls out the S Pen.

This comes in handy when the user needs to jot down info quickly such as a phone number or venue when answering a call.

While the Quick Command feature allows users to quickly activate frequently used apps with the S Pen. Users can, for instance, quickly send an e-mail, make a call, or search a ­location by drawing a pre-registered shortcut on the command pad.

The device also includes a Screen Recorder function that allows users to record a sequence of actions performed on the screen and then share it. This can be helpful for sharing a demo of how an app works, for instance.

The Note II will be available in marble white and titanium grey next month.

Beyond Android

Not content to dominate the high-end Android market, Samsung also announced the Ativ series comprising smartphones, tablets and hybrid notebooks that will run on the ­upcoming Microsoft Windows 8 operating system.

Ativ reversed spells “vita” or life in Latin and Samsung aims “to make everyone’s life extraordinary with excitement” with the new ­devices.

The 11.6in Ativ Smart PC and Ativ Smart PC Pro hybrid notebooks will offer users the best of both worlds — the portability of tablets and the versatility of laptops.

Users will get the full functionality of Windows 8 which is also fully compatible with Windows 7 applications.

The devices will have a detachable ­keyboard and touchscreen. Users can separate the ­notebook’s keyboard from screen and turn it into a tablet.

In addition to the standard input methods, both model also support the S Pen and come with S Note app for writing and drawing on the screen.

The main difference between the two is that the Smart PC is powered by an Intel Atom processor while the Smart PC Pro by an Intel Core i5 chip.

Although slim, the devices are chockful of ports like a USB 2.0 port (Smart PC) or USB 3.0 (Smart PC Pro), microHDMI out and miniSD slot. The keyboard also has two extra USB 2.0 ports.

In terms of battery life, the Smart PC is rated to last up to 13.5 hours and the Smart PC Pro up to eight hours.

Those looking for a pure tablet can opt for the Ativ Tab. The 10.1in slate runs on Windows RT which is optimised for ARM processors.

The stylish device, which measures 8.9mm thick and weighs about 570g, is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz chip and has 1GB RAM.

It’ll come bundled with Office Home and Student 2013 RT which comprises new ­versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

The Tab’s display has a resolution of 1,366 x 768-pixels, and it also comes with a 5-­megapixel rear camera and 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera.

It comes in two sizes — 32GB and 64GB — and users can further expand the memory using the device’s microSD slot.

The tablet also has a microHDMI slot and USB 2.0 port. The USB 2.0 port is compatible with a range of devices and accessories made for Windows such as printers, keyboards, projectors, external monitors and other peripherals that users can hook up directly without installing extra software.

The devices are expected to start shipping in October. The prices have yet to be announced.

Windows Phone

Samsung also surprised everyone with the announcement of a smartphone running Windows Phone 8.

The Ativ S features a large 4.8in Super AMOLED HD screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 720-pixels and is coated with the Gorilla Glass 2 to prevent scratches.

The smartphone has an 8.7mm thick brushed aluminium body that tips the scale at 135g.

It’s powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core ­processor, has 1GB RAM and will be available in two sizes — 16GB or 32GB.

Other features include a 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera, a microSD card slot for extra storage and ­supports NFC (near field communication).

Another highlight of the show was the Galaxy Camera which is unique as it is the first to run on the latest Android operating sytem — Jelly Bean.

It comes with either WiFi or WiFi with 3G connectivity for sharing images on social ­networking sites directly and for installing more apps to beef up the features of the ­camera.

Related Stories: Bigger and smarter Intuitive Windows 8 AIOs

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