Full disclosure, I am now and always have been a pen computing fan. Who remembers Graffiti on Palm Pilots and the first Windows XP tablet edition PCs? From the Apple Newton to the first Pocket PC, I’ve owned them all. Something about writing with a stylus connects to my brain in a way that keyboards cannot duplicate.
I freely admit keyboarding is faster and more accurate. I also agree that learning to use a stylus can be more than a little frustrating. Samsung’s pen experience is on a level by itself. I am writing this article with it in the superb WordPress mobile app. I may never type again.
Traditionally one of the highest hurdles for stylus input methods to jump has been a lack of friction between the instrument and the glass screen. Samsung has chosen to trade the tips of the S-pen with softer, replacable rubberized nibs. This improvement along with the Note’s vast compute resources have created an experience that rivals paper. I took an online typing test using the S-Pen and was able to hit 26 words per minute which is much faster than my thumbs at 19 wpm. Writing was more accurate as well.
Speaking of compute resources, this thing is smokin’ fast! With it’s 8 core 64 bit CPU and 6 GB of RAM the unit crushes every task I throw at it. Apps open quickly, multiple windows do not lag and I haven’t had to manually close anything. I just checked and there are 23 apps open in the background while I’m writing this and I didn’t notice a single slowdown.
Holding the note in my hand to write, reminds me of the little notebooks reporters and cops use (on TV). The narrow and tall form factor allows your hand to fully grip the phone and the buttons line up just under your fingers. Clearly Samsung’s engineers gave some serious thought to the balance and shapes.
The handwriting interface on the device has also been improved. Gone are the rigid input boxes and specific character strokes most people associate with writing on a computer. The keyboard section of the screen is an empty page with a few simple controls.
You just write in your normal style and it gets turned into typed text. Even if you have less than steller handwriting or do things like mixing print and cursive, it just works. I’ve switched over to my other hand and it still recognizes the words. Above all, the Note 8 totally ignores my hand resting on the screen while I scribble away.
In my opinion, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is the best on-screen writing experience you can get right now. Even over full tablets like the Surface Pro (which I also have), the limiting factor for them being the ackward size and weight.
Maybe now that I’ve published a glowing review, Samsung will tell me how to disable the infamous Bixby Button.