I tried to outstay my welcome but Manchester’s shops were far too accommodating. Between Carphone Warehouse and PCWorld, I had enough of a hands-on with the first generation Samsung Note 10.1 to raise more questions about the second generation than I already had.
I’m now more intrigued to see how the new 2014 tablet has turned out. I read yesterday that Samsung have used a PenTile display in the new Note which some people claim produces brighter images, while other people claim it can diminish the resolution. I guess I’ll have to wait and see but the screen on the first generation Note 10.1 was bright and certainly felt clearer than my old iPad 1. The tablet was thinner than I expected, lighter too, and pretty snappy switching between apps, though, surprisingly, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the S-Pen. That might have been down to my mainly trialing it on a Carphone Warehouse display model which probably wasn’t set up to be as sensitive as I’d like it. The one in PCWorld did seem more responsive but it had more annoying salesmen loitering around and asking me if I was okay. It’s a bit of a shame because until I have chance to get it just right, I won’t know how good this tablet really is for my style of cartooning,
If I had one other complaint it was that the S-Pen was too small. It wasn’t ridiculously small – big, even, compared to the pens on every other tablet device – but I was a little shocked at how small it felt in my hand and I wouldn’t like to use it for drawing for long periods. I’m not exactly a giant (6’ 2”) but the pen felt just a little too small in my big hand. However, I see there’s a larger pen available to buy separately which would probably be my choice and since I carry pencils with me wherever I go, it’s wouldn’t exactly be an inconvenience.
Simply because I thought I’d be able to use it quicker than the others, I concentrated on using the Photoshop app which did prove problematic. I was particularly struggling with the palm detection. My clumsy fist was leaving all manner of marks in the bottom right hand side of the page, occasionally opening menus. However, Photoshop was remarkably easy to use, like a cut down version of the real thing, with all the key features in the same place.
I’m really not interested in talking about the other note taking apps, Jelly Bean’s features and Samsung’s extensions to its feature set, or even how easy it is to copy things from the screen (though pressing the pen’s button allows you to draw a lasso around any content you want to grab which is a pretty good trick). From the point of view of drawing cartoons (which I only did scribbling since, for the life of me, I couldn't master the zoom), I think the Note 10.1 is as perfect a device as I’ve ever seen. Ideally I would have liked to have tried doing a little true Photoshopping on it but so far it suggests that it might be ideally suited to cartooning. The sheen of the screen would take some getting used to. Cartridge paper has a resistance which is noticeably more than Bristol Board. Working on board, as I’m doing at the moment, is a real pleasure and it does affect the quality of the finished work. However the difference between Bristol Board and drawing on a tablet is so huge that, at first, I felt barely able to draw. Also, I did have problems trying to draw smaller detail but this could have been a Photoshop problem or down to the device sensitivity. Only at the end did I switch to one of the other drawing apps and they felt much smoother and I felt like I might have more control. Trying these apps is the main reason I’m now thinking of biking over to my local PCWorld next week. By then, I hope to have figured out how to zoom.
However, as it stands, I think I did enough yesterday to satisfy my itch for a short time but getting hands-on with the updated tablet will be what will convince me.
Other than my bouncing between high tech shops and trying to fit in with the gangster types who can obviously afford these things and not like a cartoonist who can’t, yesterday turned into a bit of an epic day. Waterstones was crowded with people there to gawp at Jo Nesbø, the Norwegian thriller writer. I managed to take a picture but the fuzziness proves how little I know how to use the phone camera. I got home anticipating an early night and ended up working until half three in the morning. I should never do that but I got so carried away with work that I didn’t realise the time. When I looked up, I realised I had to go to bed even if I didn’t want to go to bed. Of course, my brain was so switched on that I couldn’t sleep and then, when I did, I slept too long, meaning a today’s late and rather rushed blog.