Android this week: Samsung Galaxy Note; 4-Core Transformer Prime; Fire and Nook

android-this-week

Although a few new Android devices were introduced this week, my attention turned towards one that was announced in September. The Samsung Galaxy Note still isn’t available in the U.S., but consumers in Europe are enjoying the Android device and its 5.3-inch high-definition screen. Could the Galaxy Note work out as a true compromise and take the place of both a smartphone and a tablet?

Steve Paine, founder of the Carrypad enthusiast site, spent three hours with a Galaxy Note and thinks it can do just that, saying “Although I still think it’s risky (and battery-draining) to put all your eggs in one basket, I’d certainly be happy to take a Galaxy Note and to hand over my Nokia N8 and Galaxy Tab. I’d miss the N8’s camera for sure and wouldn’t find the Note as comfortable to type on, but I think I’d get over it, especially as I’d be getting a phone and a tablet for around €520. ($707.15 USD)”

I fall into the same category as Paine. Often, when leaving home, I’ll carry a 7-inch Galaxy Tab in addition to whatever smartphone I’m using that day. Why? I prefer to use the largest screen possible to maximize my mobile experience. And with a small tablet, it’s not a problem to take phone calls with a wired or wireless headset.

That doesn’t mean I carry a 17-inch laptop everywhere I go: For mobile use, the device size and battery life are two other important points, and I find the 7-inch Android-powered Galaxy Tab to meet those requirements best. Then again, a 5.3-inch slab of Android with voice, web and application capabilities could be even better. For now, I’ll have to rely on Paine’s impressions of the device which may improve after the Galaxy Note gains Android 4.0 sometime next year.

Before the end of this year, however, Asus will begin selling its Transformer Prime tablet that works like a laptop with an optional keyboard base. The Android 3.2 slate is improved over the prior model by the inclusion of Nvidia’s Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip (SOC), which bumps the processing cores from two to four. The silicon also includes a fifth computing core for low-powered tasks and a dozen graphics cores for hours of high-definition playback and gaming. And soon after launch, if not in conjunction with it, the Transformer Prime should see a software upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich.

Then there’s the “other” Android tablets, depending on your point of view. Some don’t consider Amazon’s Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble’s new Nook Tablet to be true Android devices. These both use Google’s mobile operating system, but are heavily customized to hide Android. Yet each can browse the web, check mail, and run standard Android applications from their respective application stores, which are curated by the two companies.

The Fire may be seeing a greater number of pre-orders, but the Nook Tablet may actually set the standard for low cost, capable tablets. I noticed that many of the Nook’s hardware specifications rival those of Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus: similar CPU, storage capacity, connectivity options and display. Yet the Nook Color is $249 while Samsung’s new slate is fetching $399 for the Wi-Fi edition. My hope is that other Android tablet makers take notice and find ways to bring capable tablets to the market at more reasonable prices.

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