Android Central

One of the perks of this job is getting to travel to (mostly) interesting places and play with shiny new toys as (and sometimes before) they’re announced. But while live events can be a lot of fun, there’s also a huge amount of work involved. There’re press conferences to be liveblogged, videos to be shot, photos to be taken and words to be written, all the while dealing with crowds of sweaty tech journalists and spotty data connections.

As we said in our review, the Samsung Galaxy Note isn’t the phone for everyone -- its size alone makes sure of that. But the device has found a place at the heart of my workflow whenever I’m covering a live event, be it a simple phone launch in London, or the back-to-back mobile armageddon that is MWC in Barcelona, Spain. The Note’s size makes it a capable content creation device, in addition to its media consumption prowess. Head past the break to find learn how I use the Note to keep on top of live events for Android Central.

Keeping in touch - Campyre, Google Talk and Gmail

Android CentralIn the midsts of a major phone or tablet announcement, it’s important to keep in touch with the rest of the team, especially if you’re flying solo. Gmail and Google Talk are both obvious choices for this.

Android Central

We’ve got a writers’ mailing list that allows us to keep track of what we’re writing, and lets Phil yell at us when we do something dumb. And as we’re all using Android phones, Google Talk is often faster and easier for short messages than SMS or email.

In addition to Google’s stuff, we also use Campfire’s real-time group chat service to keep things running smoothly whenever we’re dealing with bigger events like MWC or CES. When we’re on the go, the Campyre app for Android lets us keep in touch with each other just as if we were sitting in front of a desktop browser.

Liveblogging - CoverItLive and Swype

Android CentralLiveblogging is best done from a proper keyboard, we’re not going to argue that. But if there’s more than one of us covering an event, then the CoverItLive app for Android does a serviceable job. In particular, the ability to grab photos directly on the device and upload straight to the stream is extremely useful -- often on a PC you’d have to resort to juggling cables or SD cards to perform this kind of task.

Swype comes pre-loaded on the Galaxy Note too, and when you combine it with the Note’s S Pen, it ranks among the fastest, most accurate typing experience you can have on a virtual keyboard. It's not quite fast enough to liveblog, but it comes perilously close. And it's certainly up to the task of Swyping out a few photo captions as you’re uploading.

Getting files back to the team - Dropbox

Google Drive may have just launched, but most of the AC team still uses Dropbox to juggle around files, and the simplicity of the service makes it a great choice. Features like instant photo upload are useful for shooting quick “we’re here!” pictures back to the site when we arrive at a venue. And the Galaxy Note’s USB host support means it’s even possible to upload a full complement of high-res device pics directly from an SD card to the cloud without booting up your PC or Mac -- and that’s pretty freaking cool if you ask us.

Media crunching - USB Host, Video Maker and YouTube

Android CentralThis is probably the coolest and most useful set tricks the Galaxy Note has up it’s 5.3-inch sleeve. The device supports USB Host (aka USB OTG), meaning you can hook up removable storage to the phone using an USB OTG cable. That includes your SD card reader, and even some digital cameras. And when you consider that the Note also includes a fully-functional video editor and (like all Android phones) YouTube upload capabilities, it suddenly becomes feasible to check, edit and upload hands-on videos directly on the device.

In the right situation, this has meant we’ve been able to shoot hands-on videos back-to-back, and have them processing and uploading on the Note while we’re recording the next one. That, in turn, has meant that our videos are already uploaded and waiting for us when it's time for things to be written-up.

Android Central Android Central

That’s not the only benefit of USB host, though. Often companies at major tech events will provide specs, press releases or official images on SD cards or USB sticks, and being able to view these without firing up that PC or Macbook can be invaluable, especially, when you’re huddled outside an auditorium.

Kicking back - Draw Something

Android CentralWith all that extra productivity and efficiency in our live event coverage, we’ve saved time for more important things, like screwing around with OMGPOP’s excellent Draw Something game. If there’s one Android game that’s a perfect match for the precision of the Note’s S Pen, it’s this, and we’d be amazed if Sammy didn’t partner with the developer to bundle this app onto future S Pen devices.

So there you have it. It’s not possible to completely eliminate laptops from equation when covering live tech events -- after all, no-one’s going to try to write up a full article or hands-on post on a virtual keyboard. But with the right selection of apps, the Galaxy Note can perform a surprising array of content creation tasks.

For me, the most useful feature of the Note is its ability to reduce amount of time spent tethered to a computer waiting for things to render or upload. It’s an exciting step towards truly mobile content creation, and you can bet I’ll be packing my Note when we arrive in London this Thursday to cover Samsung’s next big thing...

 

Reader comments

How I do it: Covering live events with the Samsung Galaxy Note

21 Comments

Any reader will work, you just need a microUSB to female full size USB OTG cable. They're all over Amazon, just search for USB OTG cable. It's usually like a 3" cable and one end is obviously female for plugging anything in.

I think all stock ICS devices should allow host mode but some manufacturers* mess around with the drivers and the functionality is lost, should work on any tablet with a microUSB port too tho since they mostly run stock HC/ICS (on the Transformer there's no such port but you can get a 40 pin to USB adapter, same on Samsung's Tabs).

*I don't think the HTC One series supports host mode for instance, but when hooking it up to a PC HTC went with standard USB mass storage instead of the Nexus' troublesome MTP... So it's both a positive and a negative. These are things custom kernels and ROMs can change, pretty sure host mode was added to custom kernels for the EVO 3D.

That's a pretty awesome Popeye drawing in the Draw Something screen cap, someone clearly bought a couple extra colors too (green! I'm saving up coins to do the same).

Pay the $0.99 and they give you 400 coins. I'm up to almost 700 now and need to buy more colors, but haven't yet.

Gimme a Note with an S4 processor and i'll have it any day of the week. Otherwise it just seems too late to invest in one now, though I am jealous of anyone who has had one since last year, what an investment.

Se7en2 anticipated my first comment, only I use an iGO StowAway.
2nd comment: Good to see someone else taking advantage of the Note. I _really_ like mine. It's actually pretty much the best of phone and tablet.
3rd comment: Yours looks a tad different from my AT&T version. I don't have the squarish button on the bottom, but have 4 capacitive buttons instead.
4th (and most important) comment: Thanks for the ideas on useful software/accessories. I've already ordered a USB OTG cable :)

My Galaxy S II pairs very well with my Apple Bluetooth keyboard, which itself is pretty light and thin. Id guess the Note would do the same, add a case with a kickstand and there's your 'type out a full review' solution.

My only wish is that the ATT version would have came out later with a Qualcomm S4 but hey at least the GPU is up to par with existing S4 devices. And nice drawing.

Good article and since I recently got the phone, always interested in what's available for it or what can be best used with it. Thanks!