Get Hubbing with a Host

USB host is a feature available only in Android 3.1 and is a set of APIs that allow your device to hook up to other gadgets such as keyboards, mouse and flash drives. ┬áTo connect your Samsung Galaxy Note, you need one of these. An API is really a set of instructions which allows a device to do something quickly, without having to develop your own code. This is very useful if you don’t already know.

Hosted Cable

hosted USB cable

It doesn’t look like much but trust me, this is a miracle from where iOS devices are coming from. For a start, if you own an Apple iPhone or iPad, you’d know how difficult it is to get it to recognize an external device. Bluetooth connection is probably the only means for you to connect up a keyboard but to exchange files, you can only do so between iOS device but not outside the Apple ecosystem.

Android allows you to do this but there is a hitch, you cannot connect up a external HD to the Note for two simple reasons.

  • HD format. It does not recognize a drive formated in NTFS.
  • An external HD draws too much power from the USB port.

For the first problem NTFS can be read only with a rooted GN. You need an app for this. So it’s not that difficult. The second problem requires a powered USB hub. This can be both mains powered or battery powered. There is one here.

USB battery powered Hub

This adds a host of capabilities as using an external HD is virtually impossible on an iOS device.

Cloud Storage

There are many out there who spiffily think that having Cloud storage will save the day….WRONG.

You know damn well that you need to be online to use a Cloud service and with the majority of carriers still on 3G, you’d be hampered by the lack of speed and availability when you are in a congested location. WIFI? Sounds cool until you can’t find a spot.

Gathering your media means you need to store it somewhere. Imagine for a moment if you have run out or run low on phone storage, where do you turn to? Cloud services are fine but frankly you need to be in the right place to do this. This leaves you no other choice if you have an iPhone or iPad. I once bought a Camera Kit for the iPad. This device lets you store stuff and transfer images from an SD card to your iOS toy. Trust me, it was a poor choice. It didn’t work with Flash drives. Just SD cards. Which means you had to copy to your SD, transfer it to a computer, and from the computer copy those files from the SD card to the HD. Bummer. Furthermore cloud storage is slow unless you get a fast line. With most lines operating at 3.5 G speeds, pulling files and uploading them at the same time will cost you dearly in terms of battery life.

The Galaxy Note doesn’t need all that. Just the hosted cable will start you off with all the flash drive storage you can find. Right now there are 256GB flash drive but these cost a bomb. You could settle for something smaller like a 128GB version.

Large capacity storage for flash drives are a good indicator for the future of mobile devices too. Currently, 16GB storage is still relatively cheap while 32GB is coming down as can be seen from SD card and flash drives. 128GB is still pricey while 256GB is positively expensive.

The Galaxy Note comes with 16GB storage for apps while it can take a microSD of up to 32GB. More on this on the next post.


LTE or Not?

Galaxy Note comes with LTE radios built in for Canada. Some may wonder what the heck it is all about and why you would want it. For me, having to spend so much on a phone, I want to future proof it as much as possible. This is why LTE is important.

Long Term Evolution or LTE networks has been recognized as the next global standard that will put a nail into the CDMA coffin. And since LTE is a natural progression from UTMS (GSM) networks, the majority of the telcos in the world are eager to adopt this option. China’s Huawei and ZTE are going head to head to provide the bulk of the base stations needed for the upgrade and current LTE networks will be upgraded to LTE Advance within five years.

Now, I agree that there are problems with the LTE standard as many telcos operate on different frequencies thus making roaming almost impossible but it is up to the handset providers to make the compatibility.

Right now, there is no way to really test this on the Galaxy Note. Major rollouts of LTE is only expected in 2012 worldwide.

Note from the Gorilla?

The Galaxy Note is a mighty big phone with a screen that stretches right across your palm but it is also one of the lightest phones you could carry around. Some see this as a problem.

Build quality is something that we expect from something we spend a lot of money on. I use to own the iPhone 3G and 3GS but avoided the 4 because of the obvious. There was no compelling reason to get it. Now that you have the 4S, the build quality of that phone is no different than that of the Galaxy Note.

Note to iPhone

Allow me to elaborate.

First, the Galaxy Note does not come with the famed simian glass, Gorilla and neither does the iPhone 4S. Both will shatter if dropped from hobbit height. There has been a lot of treads out there arguing that the Note has Gorilla Glass but the official word from Corningware is that it hasn’t.

Original Flip Case

The iPhone’s rear is made of glass, while the Note is made of plastic. Glass versus plastic is a no brainer. None will win when dropped. What’s more the Note’s rear plastic panel is very thin, and will break if tested to the limits, and the repair cost will no doubt be the same when it comes to the iPhone.

The speakers on the iPhone is puny. Note has better sonics. Thanks in part to the hollow plastic which helps to enrich the sound. Speakers look tiny but they perform better the iPhone 4.

The leather case that Samsung is selling for the Note is a dedicated piece of leatherware which replaces the rear panel completely. The book sleeve flip case is well made but I don’t like the flip orientation as it is difficult to use.

For those of you who have yet to decide on the Note over the iPhone, then you should keep your eyeballs here for updates.

Why Android?

For the record, the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Note cost in the same ballpark in the country I live. I realize that after having own two iPhones and an iPad, the iOS universe is probably the safest place to start.

Furthermore, I have also been a content developer for iOS devices and there is no reason for me to switch out of the iOS universe as to protect my app investment. But the truth is that I think that the 3.5 inch screen is far too difficult to use for real work. Social stuff is fine.

I own an iPad 3G, which does practically everything I want it to do and soon, I found going back to a 3.5 inch screen far too difficult to stomach. I got an Android Acer Liquid to test the platform, and truth be told, the initial experience was far from satisfactory. Android 2.1 sucked. But Android 2.2 (Froyo) changed things.

Froyo was more stable but had storage limitations. How the device juggles memory was no where near what the iOS device could do. But then again, it is multi-tasking, so memory management is different.

There is also the problem of 3G data and Wifi on Android devices, where the detection and switching from one to another is a problem but I found a way to get around it. Not easy but practical way.

Finally, the mobility question. How much actual work can you do on an iPhone? Can you keep a blog? Write a novel? Do your homework? It is easier with the iPad than the iPhone so that was the main reason why a hybrid device like this would suit my needs.

You can Twitter from an iPhone but you can’t blog on one as it’s far too difficult to type on a small screen. It slows you down and in the end you’d be exhausted.

I think the iPhone is a great gaming console, at least for casual games. The game list on the Appstore is huge. Social networking is great too.

There are connectivity issues. The iPhone isn’t the friendliest of devices to connect to other machines or devices.