Amid new Android device announcements, my attention keeps returning to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. US carriers are readying the 5.5-inch smartphone for sale soon and it’s becoming clear to me that new owners will likely spend a few weeks learning all of the features and functions found in this handset. Not only are there numerous Samsung additions to Android but the digital S-Pen is impressing me more and more.
The digital pen actually wasn’t part of my Galaxy Note 2 purchase decision at all. However, it’s handy in certain situations and there are more use cases than I initially imagined. Earlier this week, I shared several of the S-Pen features thanks to a Samsung post filled with example uses. Some functions are just a pen-friendly way to do something that’s often easier done in a standard method, but others are pen-specific or best done with the small stylus.
For example, I find a simple web search done via voice in Google Now, which is just a tap and hold of the Menu button on the Galaxy Note 2. To do the same with the pen requires an S-Pen button press, swipe up the screen and inking of a question mark followed by the search information: Not something I’d do often. But to clip a part of a screen, jot down a note or select a block of text? All are made easy with the pen and this type of functionality could help drive sales.
On another front, everyone’s trying to figure out how many Nexus 7 tablets have been sold. Based on analysts the number is between 700,000 and 1 million for the quarter, depending on who you ask. It’s likely that much of the hardware profit actually goes to Asus, who builds the device for Google; without knowing the contract details between the two, that’s difficult to say, of course. However, Google would certainly keep any revenues made on Google Play purchases from Nexus 7 tablets. The company said its annual mobile run-rate jumped from $2.5 billion last year to $8 billion now and I suspect all those Nexus 7 slates are solid contributors here.
Hoping to also cash in on the small slate market is Acer, which introduced a new 7-inch tablet this week. The Iconia Tab A110 is a 7-incher like most others in this market and costs $230. That price sounds reasonable, but I’m disappointed that Acer chose a 1024 x 600 resolution screen when cheaper competitors are using better displays that look clearer. Given that everything happens on the screen of a tablet — input, output, etc… — it’s one of the most important features as it’s the most used. Still, the new A110 has one benefit over the Nexus 7: It supports HDMI out so you can connect the tablet to bigger, better screen.