Andy on the Samsung Galaxy Note

I've been playing with the Samsung Galaxy Note for the last week or so (be sure to check out our full review here), and though I'm still digging the novelty of a 5-inch smartphone, there's one feature I'm still not sold on - the pen. Ever since the HTC Flyer, pen accessories have been making a quiet comeback to Android devices. The HTC Jetstream included one too, and now the Samsung Galaxy Note is having a go at the stylus. 

We've seen a wholesale switch to finger touch input since the iPhone came around, so it's a bit anachronistic seeing stylus-enabled devices popping up again. Pen input hasn't been popular since Windows Mobile and Palm devices, and even then, it was mostly because the resistive screens demanded them. Of course, the devices making the rounds these days are using pens more as a secondary input with a few tailored applications, rather than being a necessity.

Don't call it a stylus

Samsung Galaxy Note stylus

A common thread along both HTC and Samsung's implementations of the stylus is the preference to call it a "pen." In all likelihood, they just don't want to sound ass-backwards for trying to revive an old idea. To be fair, these pen accessories are definitely more than the plastic slivers you could buy by the dozen ten years ago; the pens being pushed these days have buttons of their own, a sizeable depth of pressure recognition, and can cost $50 and up. Both Samsung and HTC have been mum on specifically what kind of technology is enabling the pen to communicate with their respective devices; maybe's some form of low-power NFC, but it's probably something built directly into the screen. 

The problem with having high-tech pens like these is that you really can't afford to lose them, which is a very real possibility with something so small and regularly-used. At least the Samsung Galaxy Note has its own storage cavity, but even then, those have been known to lose their grip over time. 

Isn't print dead yet?

Handwriting on the Samsung Galaxy Note

Every time I catch a friend writing a note on paper, I can't help but jab that print is dead. I know that's not remotely true, but I can count the number of times I write on a piece of paper weekly on one hand. Of course, I think I'm in the minority, but it does make it harder to relate to use cases with ink and paper. After spending some time with both the HTC Jetstream and the Samsung Galaxy Note, I thought it might be worth giving old-fashioned writing another go, especially if it can digitize everything, shoot it up to the cloud, and make it searchable. Unfortunately, handwriting recognition in its current form sucks. Either that, or my handwriting has whithered away into a vestigal skillset. 

That's not to say that it can't improve, and I sincerely hope it does. Even as a precision selection tool, I could see the pen being great for casually editing typed documents. There are also some gaming applications; in particular, I had a lot of fun playing Fruit Ninja with a stylus versus finger swipes, and I would hope that developers poke and prod into more use cases for the pen beyond writing and art. However, if handwriting recognition is going to be a primary use case, the software has a long way to go

Paintbrush 2.0

A portrait of Simon Sage drawn on the Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung has placed a huge emphasis on artists with the Galaxy Note. At CES, they had a booth crammed full of cariacture artists, drawing portraits for those patient enough to wait in line. During my briefing, I enjoyed some of the same treatment, which you can see here, and given the results, drawing seems like a viable position for stylus usage. The software is becoming available, thanks in no small part to Adobe's various Android apps

Now, I'm no artist, as you can see at the top of the post, but I've found that there are two bottlenecks for the stylus when it comes to drawing. For one, there's no friction when drawing. This makes slipping very easy, but I imagine artists that have become accustomed to using a Cintiq tablet are used to it. The other issue is the device size. On a mobile phone, it's more of a hassle to use both hands just to enjoy the precision of a stylus. On a tablet (especially those that are 10-inches plus), odds are good that you'll be using two hands anyway, so a stylus is a natural choice for the bigger form factor. Additionally, artists will likely appreciate having a larger canvas.  

Even with a larger tablet available, serious artists likely won't do much more than casual sketches on current devices until responsiveness is cranked up, and the tools are fully equivalent to their PC counterparts. 

In its current form, it seems like the stylus will be limited to a few small niches, and even then, it will only be attractive among early adopters who are trying to bridge the gap from paper to digital. Artists might make some preliminary sketches on an Android tablet, and bureaucrats may mark up documents on their phone, but the precision and performance have a long way to go before they can match a PC's keyboard and mouse. How do you guys feel about the resurgence of stylus accessories? Would you use a pen regularly with your phone? Are you happy with the current breed of handwriting recognition? How big a part of your life is writing on paper?

 

Reader comments

Editorial: Why is the stylus coming back?

68 Comments

The pen needs a surface that provides some friction. The issue is a smooth pen on a smooth screen. We are used to friction. You can draw with your finger on the screen because of the natural friction, but writing with your finger isn't really useful. Your finger is too thick and get's tired easily.

Solution: Since the screen is going to be smooth, give the pens a tip that provides some friction.

Boom. Handwriting issues solved. You're welcome, World.

For those who doesn't know, Wacom does already offer felt-tip for their pens, which does exactly what you were suggesting.

I like the 'pen' because it does offer another option. Often I don't use it but occasionally I find it useful. I do find the recognition pretty good.

I'm not sure how much I'd use it on the Note, but if the same sort of tech was on a tablet I'd use it quite frequently I think. Taking notes and marking up electrical drawings would be pretty useful for me. I think sometimes I'd want to use a pen just so the screen doesn't get so smudged up with fingerprints too.

There are a wide variety of capacitive styluses available from various sources, and a stylus was one of the first purchases I made for my Android tablet. It's pretty much all that I use on the tablet, though on my phone I use my finger.

Here's the kicker though: most capacitive styluses are designed to "replace" finger input so that you get better control and keep your screen from getting smudged/covered in fingerprints. Ergo, the smaller ones tend to be roughly the size of my fingertip. This sucks for writing, drawing, etc. What they need to do is make a more precise version of the technology, and that will solve many of the issues that people have with using a stylus today.

All that said, I just don't see them as particularly practical on phones (two of my previous phones were Windows Mobile and used them).

Capacitive styluses are junk. They will only replace your finger, because capacitive sensors aren't terribly accurate. There's a lot of dead areas, so capacitive screens require a somewhat thick input method. The only way to work around this is to make the screen with an active digitizer input as well, which allows the screen to read input from one of these "real" styluses. It can read when the stylus is hovering, touching, and if you are using any buttons on the stylus. ICS has built in support for these types of pen input devices, so now its up to manufacturers to make the hardware available. The good news is that the software is now ready for any manufacturer to take advantage of, so hopefully we'll seem more devices with the tech.

No, it's about providing options. Apple takes a "one size fits all" approach that works for a certain percentage of the population. There are people out there, though, who don't fit into that shoe box. Some want larger screens, some smaller. Some want a waterproof/shockproof device. And yes, there are some out there who are cheering the fact that they can now get a capacitive screen device with a pen input. Sure it's a niche. But why not serve them?

Non-device-dedicated styluses are terrible. I have been trying to use 3rd party ones and they do not work for art or for handwriting. I think that these 'pens' would be a great addition if they could get them to work on any capacitive touchscreen.

Unfortunately, you can't. There are special sensor's needed in the device's screen to use them with the pens. Luckily, ICS has native support for pen input, so at least software won't be a problem going forward. Now we just have to wait for more devices to come with the necessary screen tech to take advantage.

I wouldn't mind it as an alternative once in awhile as long as it stored into the phone seamlessly and didn't add any thickness. I wouldn't use it often but I like using them on my DS and 3DS.

I don't believe the stylus ever really left. Just because a very trendy corporation (name to be left out) releases very trendy products that very trendy people purchase to remain trendy, states that certain formats are DOA, and that leaving out a stylus means styluses are dead—doesn’t make it true.

Anyone who owns or has ever uses a Wacom tablet will tell you that. The writing instrument will never die. Why should it? It defines so much that otherwise cannot be defined.

Thanks, just found the October post on that now. It's weird, because Samsung reps always dodged the question when I asked them about it. 

Coming from Windows Mobile there are times I miss the stylus. Don't get me wrong most of the time I like the finger input better but doing a spreadsheet for example is way better. Just not enough screen real estate and you end up zooming out so far that you don't see much of the spreadsheet. So yes I would love to see it come back as long as there is a storage place for it in the phone.

I am in one of those niche markets; as an Architect I have to make quick sketches all the time. These pens are perfect for this. If the note had been available for Verizon I would have jumped at it instead of the nexus. If the jetstream hadn't been so darn expensive, I would have gotten one of those when they came out as well. I played around with one at the store and thought it was great. I especially loved the built in notes app that synced with evernote. Brilliant.

The Note is about the perfect size to replace a "napkin sketch" that architects are famous for making at dinner or a bar. A tablet is about the perfect size to make sketches while in a meeting. Either could work while out at a construction site depending on the situation.

If one of the manufacturers would strike a deal with wacom to make a cintique tablet with Ice Cream Sandwich, I would be in line to buy one day one.

Edit: If tommydaniel is correct and Samsung is using wacom technology, I hope to god they add it to their next 10" tablet.

Gator, my company does as-builts for a living. Right now we use a combination of ancient UMPCs and PDAs simply because we need the precision that only a stylus can deliver. The PDAs are great for our folks that have issues with carpal tunnel. Can you imagine what can be done with AutoCAD WS? Give me the Samsung Galaxy 8.9 and a nexus sized device and we would be in hog heaven.

I could have sworn that architects make enough money to buy a Jetstream without breaking a sweat o.O The economy is hitting us all hard eh?

Architects are a cursed profession that work with people who make enough money for the toys, but can't afford them themselves. It is one of those "they do it because they love to, so why should I pay them more for it" professions.

If you want to make a lot of money, don't go into architecture, go into real estate development. Then you still get to design by telling the architects what you want, but you get all the profits from it.

One person here mentioned "marking up electrical drawings". This is what I'm talking about. There are more uses than just making pretty pictures. If you are the type that has to take notes in a meeting, it can be much faster to hand write than to keep up with a soft keyboard and still keep your head up and listen. Often, people don't want the clacking of keys of a laptop going on while they are talking... so writing is the most discreet way of note taking... and doing it digitally would be great. I also have to look at network diagrams, and even photos of rooms where we are going to build out network gear. Being able to mark drawings and photos with a "pen" on the screen would be great. Now, I haven't decided whether I would go with the Note or a full sized tablet, but the idea of a pen is great for those with the everyday work need for it. I used a stylus pack in the day on my Palms and Compaq iPAQ. Back then, the technology just wasn't there to manifest the ideas. Today, however, I think there is a place for the pen if it is done right and the software is there to take advantage of it.

You sir can kiss my entire ass! The only moron beside yourself is now dead, gone, and buried. It's morons like him, you and other idiots that force your ideas on those around them. Not to mention the marketing geniuses under the employ of crApple.

I to have a Galaxy Note, I've had it since this past November, and the only downside is the size of the S pen (I'm glad to say I keep my wife happy before any of you morons make your obligatory comments and how do I know...let me put it this way - she's a screamer) but Samsung has a nifty accessory aptly named the S Pen Holder.

Using the S Pen holder immediately lifts the Galaxy Note to a whole new level by providing a more natural feel to write, draw, annotate or whatever. More importantly it's incredibly comfortable for those with large hands, Arthritis or Carpal Tunnel.

Yes I use it to keep that gorgeous screen clean. But the main reason I use it is for it's silky smooth integration with the S apps. Call me dorky...but it just works!

The stylus is coming back because companies are starting to listen to their customer base. There are just some applications that are better performed with a pen vs a fat finger.

The pen is very useful for drawing and note taking(science). I think android's advances in keyboard technology now exceed word recognition, but there are just some greek letters that cannot be typed quickly.

I'd imagine the marriage of digital notes with evernote will really make a great use case for pens. You no longer have to slow down for OCR recognition just note take then upload the notes to evernote and let Evernote OCR the notes.

As for the technology Samsung uses Watcoms pen technology which is why it's one of the better pen solutions out today.
=X=

I have a SGT 10.1 and I would love to be able to use a stylus/pen to annotate the multitude of contracts I review and send them off to be revised, instead of having to print them off and marking them up by hand. Unfortunately, the styli I've tried aren't very good and the SGT 10.1 had dismal capacitive tracking.

Why pens? Education, Education, and Education. Finger only screens are worthless for education applications.

It is easy to take notes with a virtual keyboard, but impossible to do math with one. Try taking down calculus notes with a virtual keyboard...even a real keyboard is impossible to use lol

I routinely use a Bamboo tablet on my PC for Photoshop. It requires a learning curve for an artist to learn to draw with the new tools, but lots of artists take the time to learn. In most cases, the artists are not using a stylus to draw on a screen like you would with a Note, so it's much harder. This should be pretty simple by comparison.

I have a Note. I don't use the stylus much, but it can be handy and there are strong cases for it. It is very precise if you hold it at the right angle and great with a high res screen. It's great for a few notes, but a full size tablet would work much better for serious note taking. The best use is for document annotation though that needs to be more widely supported in more apps. So some folks could get lots of usefulness from a good stylus but it leans much more to productivity than casual use. Also those in colder climates can keep their gloves on and still use their capacitave device. Handwriting recognition is not there yet. Too bad, but at least your notes are captured digitally for ease of sharing and editing.

I agree with sadpanda. Math and science notes for a student pretty much necessitate a writing device. When I was in college I bought a convertible tablet pc with a Wacom digitizer. I took notes for all my classes in OneNote and it was a beautiful thing. I have the Note preordered and can't wait to have that Wacom accuracy back. I had a WinMo phone too, and the stylus with that was a terribly frustrating experience.

I am a masters student in biology, all of my profs post their notes online in pdf. I bought a HTC Evo View so I can annotate the pdf's without printing the damn things out every day. It is awesome, especially when writing complicated equations or drawing diagrams. I was working with another lab the other day and pulled out the view and it blew their minds, everyone just writes stuff down on paper and loses it. I am about to pull the trigger on an unlocked Note. Almost no bad reviews on the phone and I love Samsung's screens. If the pen works anywhere near as well as it seems to I will be in heaven. So yea scientists and students may be a good base for this type of hardware.

I have an HTC Flyer with the Scribe pen. The 7 inch screen is very nice for handwritten notes. As a physician, I screen capture my patient list from our hospital system, then annotate with the Scribe. After I'm done, I erase the digital list and notes. Very clean. No more paper patient lists found in my pocket once I get home. The integration with Evernote is great for those (non-patient) notes I want to keep for a while and access later.

Also, the pen is nice for small field selection on websites, etc.

Overall, the only knocks I have on the system are limitations on hand input rejection (I'm a lefty) and the fact that the scribe does not have a storage slot in the tablet itself.

Would love to see a refresh on this by HTC with a more modern processor and updated screen. As long as they stick to the late 2011 price point. Otherwise, that ASUS 7 inch is looking nice

I can type faster on a regular keyboard than I can write but typing on a touchpad screen is slower for me. Maybe I haven't done it enough but I have to think about it too much. I'd much rather be able to take notes with a stylus on tablet or 5 inch device. I don't have to look at what I'm doing when handwriting or on a keyboard but I do on a touchscreen which takes my focus away from other things going on. I think there needs to be more development in improving handwriting recognition and making the stylus be more exact for it to become the device I really want it to be. I also echo the comments about math and formulas. You can't take notes in a math class with a keyboard.

I'm in the same boat as most in the thread. If you work with formulas, diagrams, or graphs at school or work, you need more than a keyboard. I actually don't plan to use the S-Pen on my Note (waiting on pre-order) often because I have other tablets with active digitizers. My workhorse is the Fujitsu Q550 but I also have a ThinkPad Tablet. I just haven't found an Android Market app that can pull me away from OneNote with Skydrive. Maybe if Microsoft adds Ink support to the OneNote market app, I'd be in business.

"On a mobile phone, it's more of a hassle to use both hands just to enjoy the precision of a stylus."

There's one problem with this point, you already use two hands when you use your finger on the touchscreen. There's one hand to hold the phone and the other uses, take your pick, a stylus or a finger. In other words, using a stylus does not require you to use a hand you wouldn't already be using to manipulate the device.

Personally, I think it's rather obvious why a stylus would be useful. There are some important applications that require more precision than your finger can provide. It's a simple as that.

Uh, nope. Many (most?) people use one hand on phones. They hold the phone and use the thumb of the same hand to manipulate the screen. I just used one hand to write this message. My other hand is holding my coffee.

Nevertheless, a stylus is very useful for all the reasons stated.

Would you even attempt to do the kinds of precision things that benefit from a stylus with one hand while holding coffee? I don't think so. Thus, my point stands.

How long before Apple announces the new iPhone with built-in stylus, claim it's the next big thing and sue others for copyright? Mark my words, I see it coming.

The HTC Jetstream had a great digitizer. But they killed it before it started by pricing it to high and only offering it with AT&T data. If they would have offered a cheaper version with wifi only, I would have bought one.

If I knew I could install the notes app from the jetstream onto the thinkpad, I would be tempted to get one.

Anyone know where you can actually try the thinkpad tablet out before buying it? I haven't seen it in person in any stores.

Having a stylus/pen option is something I've always wanted on Android. If the cost was built-in to the screen I'm sure it'd be far cheaper than a $50 up-charge. The ability to accurately point at something smaller than 0.25 inches is important if we're going to have more powerful drawing/photo/audio/video apps. And 3D! Man I'd love to run Google Sketchup on Android! So cool! Some games just don't port to touch either. Try playing SimCity with a big sausage finger on a 4" screen and you'll see what I mean. Handwriting recognition is a software problem and I'm sure it can be overcome, I never had any problem using it on a 100MHz Palm device so I'm sure they can nail it on a dual-core 1.5GHz system.

As an artist, a stylus enables me to turn a tablet from a media consumption device into something that I can use to make things. Styluses aren't going backwards for me at all, I never stopped using them. I work on a wacom cintiq every day but love that android tablets can be my digital Sketchbook. I have both the flyer and thinkpad tablet and use them both with autodesk Sketchbook to get quick paintings and drawings out. I'd love to see this tech improve and for more companies to specifically build products that let people be more creative with the technology.

Couldn't disagree with the article more.

this is totally what I was going to say as well! as an artist that uses a wacom daily as well I love the concept of being able to use a tablet with one of these stylus pens to use as a sketchbook! :)

Use a textured screen protector to provide the needed writing resistance. I used one with my old Pocket PC phones. One of the "anti-glare" ones should work.

Um, Graffiti, anyone?

Back in the Palm days, we used Graffiti handwriting recognition. YOU had to adapt to IT, but it was very simple and elegant, and it had one advantage that NO other HWR model has: heads-up writing.

Graffiti strokes are written one on top of another, so you can write a continuous stream without needing to constantly look down at the screen. You could actually look someone in the eyes while taking notes. Sure, it was far from perfect, but it was certainly not out of the ordinary to get 90% or better accuracy, which could easily just be edited later.

FYI, Graffiti is available as an alternate keyboard on the Market.

I very rarely handwrite on paper. But I like the idea of having a stylus; my fingers aren't getting smaller as fast as pixels. In poorly-designed apps I sometimes have to use the trackball to position or select. If trackball isn't available it'd be nice to have some other emergency escape.

I use a styles with my tablet. It seems more accurate when clicking on links and typing on the virtual keyboard. PLUS no finger prints. . It has an ink pen built in too. But the type referred to in this article is not the same. My wife would love that kind. She draws very often. The idea of shading on the tablet like her wacom makes her happy.

You all know Apple will come out with the iPen and Apple zealots will start claiming Apple invented it. Then Apple will start suing everyone. Again.

Yep, Simon is definately in the minority. paper is not dead, neither is print.

As a Project Manager, a quick note is easier to jot down on paper than on a touchscreen device. It's generally a lot easier and quicker(for me) to leaf through my notepad to find a tidbit of data, than it is to find it on my PC. And it's a lot easier to draw pictures and brainstorm on paper o(or a whiteboard) than it is on a tablet.

Part of the reason is that there isn't any great software to effectively manage my note taking. I use MS OneNote on the PC, and Evernote on the Web & HP Touchpad (running CM ICS thank you very much! :-) ) But I really haven't found either one to be quite as intuitive as paper. I can also write quicker than I can type, although interppretation of my notes can be a challengs sometimes!

So with the small screens of the Palm & Windows products, there's wasn't a lot of real estate for taking notes or doodling, but with todays larger screens, better software, more powerful processors, etc... I think there's definately a market for the return of the "Stylus".

David...

If you did a little research before editorializing, you would have found the answers to the question you started off with.

It's no secret that the Lenovo Thinkpad and the HTC Flyer and Jetstream using N-Trig digitizing styluses.

It's just a darn shame that the Flyer is only available through AT&T, and you either have to pay a ridiculous amount or pay a slightly-less-but-still-ridiculous amount for it plus have a monthly data plan. And the Thinkpad is lame hardware coupled with extra lame engineering of the hardware (broken USB port anyone? Anyone?). And the Flyer is too small and running a phone OS (Android 2.x) - at least until pretty recently.

If somebody would make a WiFi-only, 10" tablet, with a 4:3 form factor, and the N-Trig digitizing hardware - and sell it for a competitive price, I think it would clean up, in certain circles, anyway.

Those circles would be all the professionals out there who have realized there's a lot of advantages in being able to take handwritten notes, hand draw sketches, and mark-up documents under review using a "pen".

The Evernote integration on the HTC Jetstream was brilliant. And the handwriting, using the N-Trig stylus worked pretty well. Imagine being able to handwrite notes in a meeting, on your tablet, file them in whatever kind of folder structure you want, then open the Evernote client on your PC and have them all just sitting there, synced automatically. And then being able to do a full-text search to locate specific notes based on content that you wrote, by hand, on your tablet. And, open Evernote on your phone and peruse your notes there, too. Again, all synced automatically. Personally, this is my Tablet Grail.

You should of research also. The Flyer was also sold Wifi mode only through Best Buy. In addition, HTC had Honeycomb available since last year (before it got discontinued in December 2011)

The 10" tablet from Lenovo has N-Trig digitizer and can be had for under $400 (I do not know what you mean by competitive price, I thought all vendors consider their price competitive). So 16:10 which would translate to 4:2.5 way different than 4:3 really and why is 4:3 better because is closer to letter size paper? broken USB port? This things are made like a tank. We had 8 of these and 24 iPads and only 1 Lenovo went for repairs (actually got replaced after it got dropped down the some stairs, which still powered up and the USB worked because that is how we managed to retrieved the data inside) but the iPads which all or almost all of them had made it to repair. All of them get about the exact same use (they were use for testing our "paper eliminating" software which included (on rotation) taking into the field (we clock the tablet activity). And the Lenovo Tablet has won multiple awards (5 listed in the Lenovo site) so how is it crappy?

I do agree Scribe (HTC pen engine) is pretty nice. I was hoping that the Memo 370 would come out as it was suppose to be a 7" tablet with specs up the wazoo including a digitizing pen option for around $200, but the Nexus 7 kill that. Aaaarghh!!!

Agree with a lot of the comments here.

If the stylus is successful, and people start liking it, Apple will put a mic in it, and add a Siri button, call it an iPen, use a patent that says they own the ability to interact with your touchscreen by any means, and sue any OEM making devices with stylii.

I think there is a gap to be filled with a stylus, but also agree an expensive stylus can be a bad thing. Stylii get lost, and anyone with children and a Nintendo DS probably buy the 10 pack of stylii. Granted children won't be using the $250+ phone, but having to pay $50 for a replacement is a pain. But I don't know a solution. Tethering the stylus to the device is NOT a solution. Can the magic of magnets solve this issue?

I also feel the 5.3" size is awkward. I think it's too big for a phone, and too small for a tablet. I think the stylus makes a lot more sense with a tablet for many reasons. As noted it give much more screen real estate, and that is needed. Call it a pen all you want, but you still have to write bigger with it than you can with a actual pen and paper. A 5.3" notepad is plenty big for writing notes, but scaling writing with an stylus is cramped at that size. And to think I used to try to do that with a 2.8" WinMo phone. But, at a 7"+ tablet size it becomes manageable. And a tablet isn't going in and out of pockets, and carried as many places as a phone, so there is less chance for the stylus to become dislodged.

Also, your handwriting is terrible. Without being able to take the whole sentence into context I could not have read that screen shot. At first glance I though it said "handvarity". Grafitti was an option, but typing one letter at a time is inefficient, and hardly any more useful than an on screen keyboard.

I'm sorry man, I couldn't disagree with you more especially regarding the Samsung Note itself. Have you ever physically held one in your hands before makng such statements. I'm betting you haven't cuz if you did I know you'd feel different and finally see the potential most of us see in a device like this.

What is it with you people who pass judgement without facts, or not having even tried the thing? I call people like that Steve BlowJobs. Just because lne idiot with money says his finger is HIS better pointer doesn't mean shit unless you drank the kool-aid. Hell he was prepped by marketing many times over before he walked on stage and every knucklehead throws down their money just to be cool. How asinine!

A lot of people ln here have made a lot of good arguments to prove this editorial and Steve BlowJobs wrong. But for chrissakes reserve your judgement(s) until you've actually had an opportunity thoroughly use the damn thing. In this example we're talking about the Samsung Galaxy Note and a couple of others. After you've used them then make your bold statements.

Dare I even say it, think outside of the box people - think different (I had to say it), think with an open(source) mind. Think Ice Cream Sandwich

You disagree? Good, the world would be boring if we all had the same opinions.

That's why the apple way won't work in the long term. I think 5.3" is too big for a phone. I don't have a purse (not saying you do), and live on my phone. So it needs to sit comfortably in my pockets, and my 4.3" Galaxy S II falls out of some pants with small pockets. Falling under the seat in the car, falling onto the floor, etc. We don't have the same opinion, that's normal, that doesn't mean one of us is an idiot. To ME 5"+ is too awkward for a daily use, pocket device. I also felt 7-8" tablets were too small, so I have a TouchPad. We all have our own usage patterns, and desires. I have held and used a Galaxy Note, I only needed a few minutes to know I didn't want to spend $300 on that device. At the same price point as the GS II, $200, I might have given myself 30 days to find out.

I would like to try a stylus for a phone, but not when there is a risk of it falling out, and costing $50 for a replacement. I said it made more sense on a tablet, and the screen is too cramped for taking notes. This is a very common remark in the Galaxy Note reviews, not just me. I was referring to note taking more than the idea of a stylus. I like the idea of a stylus in general and especially for tablets. But, in my opinion taking notes on a 5.3" screen isn't useful. I don't use my phone two handed, even when I had a landscape QWERTY slider, I balanced my phone on one hand far more often than using two hands. I also might have given it a shot if the replacement stylus was $5. Too many unknowns for me. I see the appeal, and don't think anyone that wants to use a huge phone with two hands is wrong, just different.

I agree that too many people blindly pay outrageous prices to get that apple on the back. What did we say when the oil companies were showing record profits, and we are paying $4 a gallon at the pump? But, Apple posts record profits and holds billions in cash, and all people say is "atta boy?" They make the highest amount of net profit of any tech company by a huge margin, and people don't feel ripped off? No, they stand in line to do it again. "Please sir may I have another?" Much like the Futurama eyePhone.

Again, people shouldn't be berated for having opinions. This article is an editorial after all.

As a LONG time PDA/Smart Phone user (i.e. I started out with a Palm Pilot Pro and have owned multiple PDAs and whatnot since then, 15 years ago) I MISS having a stylus at times.
It is more precise than my finger for a number of tasks.
Of course, I actually miss having a physical keyboard like used to be on the Treo devices fairly often too.

Im a police officer, I take notes all day. Im hoping to replace my paper notepad with my phone. one less thing to carry +1

I think this is a very interesting trend. Character recognition aside, the real use here is for artists/designers/architects, as has been previously mentioned.

I like these devices to be wifi only, personally To me there's no mileage in having your phone integrated- just keep a dumb phone which will run for three days and no contract/data fees. Of course, if you're in an area where you NEED data, well, that makes sense. Most of us get wifi pretty universally at school, work, home and out at coffee shops and restaurants...so at that point, I decline a data contract with (increasingly limited) caps and fees.

Anyway, the other thing I wanted to comment on was size. I have a Samsung Galaxy "Player"...wifi-only android gingerbread device, front and rear cameras...everything except the phone. Beautiful 5" screen. (about $230 at Best Buy)

For me this new line of devices with 5" screens starts to get to the functionality of a tablet...4", for me, is just too small to effectively work and view webpages. 10" is certainly plenty of real estate but you can't put it in your pants or coat pocket. It has to be carried everywhere. Not for me. The 5" screen is big enough to work on (view pdfs, use autodesk Sketchbook, etc) and small enough to still fit in pocket. Also, I CAN use it as a phone with Skype on wifi. For me it's the perfect micro-tablet. If there was a 6", I'd probably opt for that. I see the apple minions with BOTH iphones and ipads...because neither can fulfill both functions well enough. (god bless them; they've made apple billions of dollars.)

I think the new crop of 5"-7" devices will be popular, whether phone or wifi-only. 5" works fine as a phone unless you're a four-year old. Your "cordless" phone at home is usually in the 5"-10" range. What's the big deal?

Anyway, good to see the boundaries being pushed beyond apple's standard one-size-fits-all approach.

"For me it's the perfect micro-tablet."
This is the first time I have heard the term "micro-tablet". Hmmm, kinda throws a whole new spin on the issue; A micro-tablet that doubles as a phone. That was a unique (and very cool) perspective. It's like anything else, some are going like it, some won't. Being one of the many who have recently divorced Apple (and their AT&T powered iPhone), I'm just enjoying my newfound freedom of choice :-)

Coming from a gamer's perspective, a stylus is incredibly helpful and increases accuracy and speed significantly. One of the first examples that showed me how fast and fluid touchscreen gaming can be was with Sonic Rush.

Moving the blue hedgehog side to side in an instant was mandatory to clear the 7 Chaos Emeralds bonus stages. These challenging levels could not be placed onto a smartphone or tablet in their current state, rather they'd have to be dumbed down, made less difficult because your finger couldn't compare, it takes up too much screen estate and it's not fast/fluid enough.

A Stylus can make fast-paced gaming better, but if you're just selecting menus then it doesn't really matter.

A PERSON THAT HATE TO USE A PEN AND PAPER WRITING ABOUT STYLUS?

What is next vegetarians writing about why is there a secret menu at IN & OUT with more that 2 pieces of meat? Hey I do not eat meat why are they having more choices than 2 patties?
Maybe a couch potato writing on why is there triathlon? Hey I rarely move why are there people doing 3 different types of sports?

The pen and paper is hardly dead? They have tried. I worked in several companies that worked on ways to eliminate paper. They manage to reduce it somewhat but amazingly all of them had a recycling service that came and picked up Dumpsters of just paper. All trash bins were the same size but regular trash got picked up 2 times a week but recycling was picked up everyday (twice on Mondays). We found out that people just prefer looking at paper. People like writing on paper.

Who would like a meat. No one says the vegetarian.

Well who would like a stylus?
Awe just artist

Really? How about:
* Million of businesses use it for signatures (stores, package carriers, anyone that does business).
* Musicians - writing music with a keyboard is not that much fun.
* Athletes - writing moves and plays.
* Architects, designers
* Scientists, doctors, lab assistant, etc..
* Mathematicians
* Anyone having to deal with western language. How about everyone in CHINA.
* Anyone that needs precision. That may include gamers.

The Stylus is another input aiding device. Thinking that the finger is the best and ONLY way to input thing is as narrow minded as having a mouse with only one button or thinking that everyone would love a phone without a physical keyboard or a TV box that has only digital outputs.

Oh wait, that is all the same company, never mind.

Enjoy eaten just vegetables and sitting on the couch.

I'm having a steak with some mix vegetable on the side or maybe just a salad. Later on I'll jog to the beach and body surf for a while or play some hops. Go home shower, watch a movie or play some video games.

Or wait those are choices, what people do other things? Those must be the few weird people.

Do at least ten minutes of research next time.

A PERSON THAT HATE TO USE A PEN AND PAPER WRITING ABOUT STYLUS?

What is next vegetarians writing about why is there a secret menu at IN & OUT with more that 2 pieces of meat? Hey I do not eat meat why are they having more choices than 2 patties?
Maybe a couch potato writing on why is there triathlon? Hey I rarely move why are there people doing 3 different types of sports?

The pen and paper is hardly dead? They have tried. I worked in several companies that worked on ways to eliminate paper. They manage to reduce it somewhat but amazingly all of them had a recycling service that came and picked up Dumpsters of just paper. All trash bins were the same size but regular trash got picked up 2 times a week but recycling was picked up everyday (twice on Mondays). We found out that people just prefer looking at paper. People like writing on paper.

Who would like a meat. No one says the vegetarian.

Well who would like a stylus?
Awe just artist

Really? How about:
* Million of businesses use it for signatures (stores, package carriers, anyone that does business).
* Musicians - writing music with a keyboard is not that much fun.
* Athletes - writing moves and plays.
* Architects, designers
* Scientists, doctors, lab assistant, etc..
* Mathematicians
* Anyone having to deal with western language. How about everyone in CHINA.
* Anyone that needs precision. That may include gamers.

The Stylus is another input aiding device. Thinking that the finger is the best and ONLY way to input thing is as narrow minded as having a mouse with only one button or thinking that everyone would love a phone without a physical keyboard or a TV box that has only digital outputs.

Oh wait, that is all the same company, never mind.

Enjoy eaten just vegetables and sitting on the couch.

I'm having a steak with some mix vegetable on the side or maybe just a salad. Later on I'll jog to the beach and body surf for a while or play some hops. Go home shower, watch a movie or play some video games.

Or wait those are choices, what people do other things? Those must be the few weird people.

Do at least ten minutes of research next time.

Two years later, we see the stylus renaissance petered out, and thank heavens. Nobody really wants to go back to the days of the 3Com PalmPilot. Let the stylus remain the tool of the specialist that requires it. The finger-based interface is just fine for the pedestrian user.