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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note II

In the latter part of February, 2013, I acquired my first ‘smartphone’, a Samsung Galaxy Notes II. In this process I changed providers from Sprint to US Cellular. A primary reason for the provider change was that US Cellular has a 3G tower in Bath, NC (4G in Greenville and much of NC). Thus I can reach the Internet routinely from Bath, both directly on the smartphone and using the phone as a modem to tether my notebook to the Internet.

Features of subscribed plan are:

Unlimited Mobile-to-Mobile Minutes (have 1 additional phone)
7pm Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes
Free Incoming Call
Pictures and Video Messages
Unlimited Messaging
Voice Mail
Call Waiting
Caller ID
Call Forwarding
Three-Way Calling
Voice Overage Protection
Daily Data
5GB Data and Tethering

Most of the ‘features’ just happened to be in the most appropriate plan; but a number of them are important to my use pattern.

I’m still exploring, and hopefully learning, about many of the capabilities of using the phone directly. The tethering is very important to me. The inbuilt way of connecting is a multiple-step process, both to connect and disconnect. So I have installed a product named “EasyTether” ($9.95) that automatically connects whenever the USB is plugged into the phone.

Over time I plan to address the most usable (for me) features as comments to this post. To date, I am statisfied.


Gene Prescott said...

Yesterday, mostly as a test, I had my notebook tethered by the Note II while it was accessing a NCAA tournament game while driving from Greenville (4G) to Bath (3G). During the 45 minute drive the video and sound reception was acceptable while in 4G area, but degraded to unacceptable when I reached the 3G area. The break in performance point was when I was 8 miles from Bath. According to my phone statistics, this consumed about 500MB of my monthly 5GB data allotment.

Gene Prescott said...

An unanticipated benefit from the Note II is using the camera to capture documents when a scanner is not available. Works well. Document size consumes more disk space. But disk space is essentially free.

Gene Prescott said...

The Note II has worked well as a phone (voice). I don't have a large hand, but it is comfortable holding the device. Also has worked well for texting. Google maps locates current position ... I will test how functional this is opposed to having GPS.

Input can be made on simulated keyboard, or by handwriting using the stylus. I'm impressed with the stylus getting my hand-writing correct, but for general input (like email or texting) I still prefer keyboarding.

Gene Prescott said...

There are a couple of things I'm having trouble adapting:

One....The screen is very sensitive to hand movements and sometimes I 'make a selection' by just changing positions of the phone.

Two....When taking pictures I tend to get multiple shots of same picture. I presume I am either mashing too long, or too hard, or both.

Gene Prescott said...
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Gene Prescott said...

One benefit of keeping notebook tethered using the Note II most of the time ... I routinely 'clean' the notebook which requires a reboot at least twice per week. Rebooting is a relatively slow process. However I have access to the Note II, directly, for most things while the reboot is in process.

Gene Prescott said...

When connected (tethered) at 3G, often uploading pictures (Facebook; Skydrive; etc.) fails. I presume the upload speed causes a time-out. Doing the same routine at 4G has never failed and is 'snappy'. Additonally, with EasyTether, WiFi hotspots are automatically connected. However, actual bandwidth is controlled via the 3G/4G connection.

P M Prescott said...

My wife has a Galaxy II, she loves it. I went with the Kindle Fire and it does what I want.

Gene Prescott said...

As P M Prescott notes, there on many potential connection options available. There is not single correct way. The Apple products serve the needs of many well.

For full work functionality (as a tax CPA) that allows portability and does all of the personal things of other systems (currently), tethering a notebook that is my primary computer with the Note II is working well.

Gene Prescott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gene Prescott said...

For some perspective on the Note II, although the following link shows Android outselling iOS systems, only 5% of the Androids were Note IIs.

Gene Prescott said...

One consequence of keeping a smartphone 'tethered' to a notebook is the fact that the USB connection also handles the smartphone as external disk drive with normal files and folder structure. Thus, the 16GB Note II can also be used for storage or transfer of files. For that matter so does my P500 Nikon camera. The difference is that I always have the Note II with me and don't always have the P500.

Gene Prescott said...

Currently using the Note II as wireless hotspot. Works well at 4G, moderately OK at 3G, and almost useless when US Cellular has dropped down to 1G. Downloaded and configured Chrome on the Note II. With 12 tabs open and performing as a hotspot, it was consuming more power than the charger generated.

Gene Prescott said...

Since a retired person, anchored in two locations, spends more time in a car than many people, I built a stand to fit over the console of my Jeep that holds my notebook (which is my primary computer). Thus I can visually monitor status of email while driving. Works much better than checking email on smartphone while driving. If something needs attention I pull over at next convenient place. Though a have a power splitting device on dashboard power source, the notebook and Note II combined consume more power than is being generated. So a gradual battery drain is occurring. To alleviate this I bought an extension that plugs in power source in cargo area and use it to power the Note II. This seems to be working when the configuration is car-based for extended periods.

Gene Prescott said...

As I have been increasingly using the Note II more and my notebook (main computer) less, I embarking on an experiment to ascertain how much workload I can shift. So I have ordered a Bluetooth keyboard and a smart docking station. The docking station has a HDMI port; 2 USB ports; sound out. Theoretically, I will be able to hook an external monitor; printer; and disk drive along with external speakers. I will report how (or whether) this stuff works.

Gene Prescott said...

I attempted making a post using the new BlueTooth keyboard to Note II. It seemed to work, but at time to post my connection had dropped from 3G to 1X. Often stuff doesn't work right at 1X. It doesn't appear to have posted.

I have tested a monitor from Smart Dock HDMI connection and it works. Samsung says they don't know if a 'touch screen' HDMI monitor will control the phone. Guy at Best Buy says it will not. He didn't allow me to test with monitor on display. The USB ports will only accommodate 16GB flash drives (says less than 32GB and did not work with 32GB tested). They are working with 2 16GB drives.

If a touch screen monitor will not work, I need to test 'portrait' in a non-touch HDMI monitor.