Samsung Galaxy Notes: The rebirth of the stylus

Summary:Samsung now has two tablets that accept input from an included stylus. We'll have to see if buyers want them.

Samsung is heavily promoting its Galaxy Note line of tablets at the MWC this week. That's right, with the addition of the 10.1-inch version of the note to the existing 5-inch "phablet", the Galaxy Note is now a de facto product line. What sets the Notes apart from the Android tablet bunch is the inclusion of a stylus and some apps that turn the tablets into a digital pad. The stylus is back, according to Samsung.

See also CNET: Mobile World Congress 2012

The Galaxy Notes are not the first Android tablets to sport a stylus for digital note-taking, that honor falls to the HTC Flyer released last year. The Flyer was followed by the HTC Jetstream, a 10.1-inch version of the Flyer, and then the ThinkPad Tablet by Lenovo. The inclusion of a stylus seems to be an effort to differentiate these tablets from the pack of Android tablets with touch input only, and it remains to be seen how popular they will be with the buying public.

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I am a pen-toting tablet user going way back, as I depended on a Tablet PC years ago when working as a consultant in the field. I used the tablet with a pen for eight hours a day, every day, taking tens of thousands of pages of handwritten notes as part of my job.

You would think my history with a pen tablet would make me an instant fan of the Galaxy Notes and the other Android slates with styli, but in fact it makes me wonder if these things will catch on with the public. What made the Tablet PC with pen input so valuable in my past work was the searchable handwriting that let me find any note easily.

The act of taking handwritten notes is not a technological challenge, but making that handwriting searchable certainly is. Think of all the pages of notes you've inked on paper over the years, and how hard it is to find things written a long time ago. That's the situation these new Android tablets with pens face, and I'm not sure how much value that brings to the table.

Having a stylus does set these new tablets apart from the crowd, so it certainly differentiates them from the bunch. We'll have to see if buyers find enough value in the stylus, though.

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Samsung, Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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