Monday, February 6, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note - A look from a mommy's perspective

Today I feel like talking about gadgets.

I think this blog is thirsty for a gadget review and although all these while, gadgets were reviewed by Mr Husband, today I feel like giving it a go, with a different perspective - from the eyes of a woman.

Therefore, if you expect some techie post, you'll be very disappointed because I don't believe a woman ever buys any gadget based on the RAM or memory size, at least not for me. To me, I would like my gadget to look uber gorgeous but not dumb inside. Hence, the usability must stand up to my highest standards according to my usage.

Like any gadgets, do not expect one thing to meet 100% of your needs. Gadgets are not as smart as [most] humans. Hence, reserve any comments to this post if you do not fully understand this paragraph ;)

So, today, I shall talk about my new baby who I fondly call, Arnold. He is a Samsung Galaxy Note who is uber gorgeous and perfect for a busy mommy like meself.

First of all, let me tell you that Arnold is also uber heavy. And I like that feeling knowing that I'd miss the weight if I suddenly forgot to put him into my handbag when I needed to go out and I like that I will be less clumsy with a heavy phone.

As you can see, it isn't that thin which is a minute factor for me simply because I love it for its super huge screen that has a sharp resolution - almost like you putting a high-res image on a computer. So surreal!

But of course, the main attraction that got me to fall in love with it was when I saw it on my BFF, Nicole. For someone who used the conservative 3310 for more than 5 years and then switched to another conservative phone, I was surprised that she picked this up and learnt to use it so quickly when she is never familiar with android phones. That said, the wallet-like cover that she had, made it look like a Chanel wallet and that was when I fell in love with it at first sight. Shallow, you think? Read on...

Another steal deal would definitely be the stylus. A phone with a screen that's almost the size of a pocket computer and writing capabilities should be a dream gadget for busy mommies, definitely. Some are just clumsy to type on the virtual keypads and prefer to write, while the Samsung Galaxy also allows pretty darn good voice command features if you are the type who likes to tell a gadget what to do. I cannot comment much about the voice command feature as I hate talking to gadgets but I know Mr Husband does use it frequently on his Galaxy SII and I guess it is good because he says so ;P

Now the size is somewhat of a mix of hits and misses. Above is the photo of a Note in between the HTC Windows phone (left) and Galaxy SII (right).

I was surprised at the so many admirers of the Galaxy Note for its functions, features and speed yet they are willing to forgo the experience only because they think the phone on one's ear looks uber weird.

Look, first of all, there is always a solution to every problem. Secondly, there is this thing called the bluetooth headset, in case you have never heard of it??

But thirdly, which is what I truly feel - who cares how stupid it looks on a person's ear... you don't own one, do you? Therefore, you simply cannot comprehend how wonderful it is to use it. It's almost like god's gift, I tell ya! So what if it is huge and fugly? When you're in love, it becomes just perfect for you, no matter what others say ;)

And if you think battery life is a bane for all android devices, read the above paragraph again on what I said about a solution to every problem... when I am in the car, I would plug it into the car charger and when it is in my handbag, I have it plugged in to the battery charger pack (as in the picture above) that I'd carry in my handbag at all times.

So you wanna tell me more negative points? I will combat it with such easy solutions, you may never even think of ;)

Favourite apps

Next, I shall talk about my favourite apps. As it is with android phones, there are plenty of apps that you can download for free from the Market. If you are an iPhone user, I guess you may say that iPhone has more apps than an android. As I have never used an iPhone before, I may not be able to comment much on this though I am a heavy user of mac (I have the mac mini as my desktop, a macbook air as a laptop and Mr Husband owns an iPad).

But all things mac may be a little boring because familiarity breeds contempt. Haha, well that wasn't exactly why Mr Husband and I do not own an iPhone.

Now, I can talk about so many apps until the cows come home, so I guess I will just touch on some of them. Who knows, if this post is popular enough with mommies alike, I may one day do reviews on apps alone :)

1. The Mini Diary
When I was using Mr Husband's Galaxy SII, I fell in love with the Mini Diary. It is almost like a simple blog to me because I can easily paste a photo, put up the location and describe what I did that day, offline. Isn't this one just cute? I can document everything that I've done, even put photos of all those dishes I cooked and write about them so that I could flip the pages one by one and glee in awe as I read what I did days back or weeks back. I so love this app.

It works just like a diary only that you're not able to share it with friends and there's no password option, in case someone decides to look into your phone. That said, if password is what you need, I guess you would be smart enough to lock your screen first and no one can check anything.

As for sharing a page with someone, I have tried sharing a page on facebook but it came out as a photo with description instead of the actual look and feel.

2. The S Memo
Then, comes the point where I said that it has handwriting capabilities for clumsy mommies. This is the S Memo where you can do almost anything. Save them, and this page will appear when you click on S Memo so that you can see your previous saved documents and just touch on it if you want it open.

Well, I shouldn't brand this app for only busy mommies. I'm sure you ladies would have so much fun using this app too. But I wouldn't know because I am a busy mommy ;D

3. The SwiftKey X
But if you think you want to use the keypad, I would highly recommend this SwiftKey X app. I think you'd need to purchase it from the Market but it is worth the buy! The keypad actually learns up your typing pattern and it will predict what you're trying to type so that you will not have to type a whole word everytime. For this, I had programmed it to learn my typing patterns from my gmail, facebook and twitter accounts, and not forgetting the sms as well.

So, when I type just 'He', the tab 'Hey', 'He' and 'Hello' comes out. The more alphabets you type in, the more accurate the tabs will predict the words you're trying to type out.

The positive side of it is that if you're trying to send the same message on several applications, you do not need to copy paste a sentence. It will automatically learn the sentence and predict even before you type the next word! Amazing!

4. Business Calendar
And this one? I have loved this app since the day I used the android Xperia x10 mini. It is a free app called, Business Calendar. Even though free, the app comes in many different widgets for you to choose to place on your home screen, just like what you see at the picture on the very top of this post.

Yes, the Samsung Galaxy has its own very sexy calendar but I much prefer the Business Calendar because it has all my gmail calendars as tabs underneath the calendar (and I can personalise the colours for each calendar). I have a host of email accounts, one with my full name, one I use for work, one for blogging usage and another one for my business use, and so this calendar fits my needs to a T. I also share a calendar with Mr Husband and some other users/functions (which I did not highlight on the calendar unless I need to). Therefore, as a kiasu lady, I know that all those I need is there when I need them but until then, I at least have my personal schedule and Mr Husband's schedule on my phone. I love this app!

And if you need a week view, you can just swipe the week using the stylus and this page will appear. Another plus point there - where you can choose the number of days you want displayed!

5. Photo editing app
This one's another love of mine, introduced by Mr Husband. The pixlr'o'matic allows the most amateur photographer to have an almost professional touch! But that's not the main deal. I guess for the most part, one should NOT compare an 8mp camera phone to an actual 8mp camera. It isn't that great although you should get used to the functions in order for you to get the most of the camera's capabilities (and it can surprise you too). And this app actually makes photo-taking a lovely experience. Just look at the photo below...

It has many different features and after creating a fine border, a normal photo of a capuccino and mocha gets a nice treatment. You can make a sharp photo look blur and a new photo to look ancient. You can have a warm tone look cold and even add details like lights and rainfall to it. It is amazing, and it is FREE! :) When you're done with it, you can share it on Whatsapp or Twitter or fb or even email it to friends! Love love!

6. Cooking app
Now, this app was probably initially designed to be used in an iPhone. It can be downloaded from the Market to your android and it is one of my favourites. I mean, a Note is almost like a pocket computer to me and with this app, I just need to bring the Note with me into the kitchen and I can create magic. Love x3!

7. Games and Entertainment
While waiting for food to be cooked on the stove, I have my virtual kitchen to take care of... this is my bakery, downloaded from the free Bakery Story app. It is almost like Cafe World to users of fb only that this one allows me to be totally anonymous and getting neighbours is a breeze because we hardly know one another. I love this game!

And because I like cooking so much, I also downloaded Restaurant Story. Two huge virtual kitchen and one actual kitchen to take care of, mommy's a busy lady already ;)

8. Mommy's Calendar
And because mommy's so busy, mommy needs an app to tell her when she'll transform into a lion with an awful mood at that time of the month, when she is fertile to have more cubs and many more features which I have yet to discover ;P

This one's an app I purchased because the free version doesn't have a widget. A busy mommy needs her widget. Always.

And unlike the apple store, the Android Market allows a full refund within 15 minutes of purchase if you're not happy about the app. But then again, if you're a smart mommy like moi, you should try out all the free versions relevant to your usage before you decide which one is going to be worth the purchase. Am I right or am I right?

So, to conclude, this is my note on my Note. As seen here, my home screen where I have loads of widget and apps. On the top, is a Galaxy exclusive, me thinks. I have all the cute photos screen played live so that I can look at them every time I miss my munchkins. Heck, I even have pictures of dishes I've cooked just so that the stream of pictures would look enticing ;) mommy loves....

The super large screen allows for more apps and programmes to be placed on the home screen. Of course, you can have more pages if you have more apps but I prefer the important ones to be placed at the most front, within easy reach.

And there on the left side is one of the widgets from the business calendar. There are plenty of variations and size options but I chose this size as it looks just perfect.

So, you'd ask me what I think of the Samsung Galaxy Note... and I'd say, it is just perfect.

Do you own a Note? Don't you just love it?


Acat said...

best kan the note? later kalau dah bosan boleh pass to me k.

electronicfly said...

My sis is planning to get a Note as well, but it's so hard to find! Maxis just launched it a few days ago, and can you believe they launched it without actually having it -.-"

I personally kinda like it too, but it's so not pocket friendly :(

toughcookie said...

en acat mr husband baby,
Fat chance of me being bosan with it but you are allowed to stroke it... ;P

toughcookie said...

Ya, mine was the last one at the outlet i went to and they said that they're only getting like 5 or 6 units that's supposed to last a week. Thing is, this beauty moves fast.

I agree that it is not pocket friendly and probably more convenient for a woman to carry in the handbag.

Good luck to your sister!

Paris B / Pink Parisian said...

How opportune! I just got the S2 (Note was just too big, sorry la ya I'm one of those whiners :P ) and not 100% in love, but very happy to see your list of apps because I'm so lost! Maklumlah I come from the Blackberry which is so limited in so many ways. Thanks for sharing and do share more apps - I'd love to know what else I might have missed :D

plue said...

awesome post! i am loving my s2 and am glad most stuff i need the apps are available :P

need to go try that photo app pronto, looks good! am using Vignette atm :D

Fabulous Mummy said...

Coming from a tech-dumb-cum-fabulous-mum (that's me :-))....the Note is awesome!! Cant live a day without it!!

toughcookie said...

dear paris,
sure and welcome to the android world!!

toughcookie said...

hiya plue,
ahhh must check that one out. i'm still a virgin when it comes to photo editor apps ;P

toughcookie said...

halo fabulous mummy,
ooh thank you for commenting! you're awesome hence the awesome phone for an awesome person :D

UAE said...

Thanks for the lovely review, refreshing to get it from a lady's point of view. I haven't decided between a Note or an S2, your review makes me want to get a note. But since you're a Mom yourself, do you recommend it can be used for a working/studying Mom with a 3 month baby? I appreciate your advice and if you can help me make up my mind I'll be really thankful!!! :)

toughcookie said...

hiya UAE,
i've heard it from a lot of lady friends i have that they absolutely love their SG Note no matter what their backgrounds - housewife or working moms. i think since it has such a large screen, awesome screen resolution and such a speedy operating system, it makes us busy ladies more efficient and definitely gives us that added convenience. basically, we can be all clumsy we but the phone won't die on us. furthermore, we only need this one phone which can double up as a notebook. you can write your notes and add pages, all in the comfort of one little app.

the only concern is the battery life, which you can remedy by plugging the USB cable of your computer when you are doing your work on the computer (and that can help recharge the battery) or like me, use a car charger when you're driving and if gets really low, i have a mobile battery charger pack in my handbag since i have my data running non-stop.

i would still recommend it to anyone because other android phones would still use up a lot of battery. but if you are concerned about the size (which is usually the case), the Galaxy S2 would probably be your best option, minus the stylus, speed, screen size and screen resolution.