Samsung’s Mysterious Bluetooth S Pen: Talk to the Hand… Really

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 BT S Pen was silently introduced to the press after the Aug. 15 New York launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Android tablet.

James Bond would be proud. While the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 BT S Pen HM5100 doesn’t contain poison or shoot bullets, the handheld unit, like many of 007’s toys, isn’t as simple as it looks. While this new tablet accessory looks like a mild-mannered stylus, it’s actually a wireless Bluetooth handset you can make calls with.

As Samsung’s glitzy launch event for its new Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet wound down on Aug. 15, members of the press were sent packing with a press kit which included the Galaxy Note 10.1 BT S Pen. Most recipients seemed unimpressed at the seemingly mundane going-away gift and quietly packed them away. It was only upon closer inspection later that many realized what the BT S Pen actually was.

The front of the box does little to describe its capabilities other than to mention that it’s “compatible with Galaxy Note series” and one side of the box simply reminds you that it can “Enhance your mobile smart life.”

However, the Galaxy Note 10.1 BT S Pen is basically a pen-shaped Bluetooth handset with a stylus that’s compatible with the magnetic resonance circuitry built into the display of the  Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. When the BT S Pen is used with the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, the tablet can detect more than a thousand levels of pen pressure. This means you can draw a thick line by pushing down harder on the screen with the S Pen and a thinner line by easing up on the pressure.

The BT S Pen has the same side button that comes on the S Pen styli packed with Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphone and Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet plus a rocker switch to control volume and a power button that’s also used to pick up and disconnect calls. The BT S Pen pairs with any compatible Bluetooth device by holding down the power button for three seconds. The unit’s built-in battery can be recharged via a standard microUSB slot hidden below a cap at the top of the device.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 BT S Pen: It looks like a stylus, but it’s actually a Bluetooth handset you can speak into.

 So how does it sound? Surprisingly good. Since it’s easy to hold the tiny speaker grill close to your ear canal, volume is not a real problem. A small microphone is embedded in the middle of the Galaxy Note 10.1 BT S Pen, which can be set to vibrate when a call comes in.

The unit has an indicator light, but no display and doesn’t call out the number of the incoming call. The biggest disadvantage of the S Pen, however, might be the perplexed glances you might get from people who spot you chatting with a pen.

So when can you purchase the Galaxy Note 10.1 BT S Pen? Good question. (UPDATE: The BT S Pen is now available for purchase.) The product doesn’t exist on Samsung’s US website and the box itself doesn’t even have a UPC code printed on it. Since the current Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet is a WiFi-only device, the BT S Pen may–or may not–debut with a future version of the tablet with built-in cellular data capabilities.

So if you spot someone with a pen nestled in his ear who seems to be talking to himself, don’t take pity on him. Ask him where he got that pen.

UPDATE: The BT S Pen is now available for purchase.

Text and images © Copyright 2012
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
info@paperpc.net

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1: Potent Pen-Powered Tablet Challenges iPad

Travis Merrill, director of marketing for Samsung Electronics America’s Galaxy tablet division helps introduce the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Android 4.0 tablet at an Aug. 15 launch event in New York.

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Android tablet isn’t an iPad, and that’s the point.

Samsung has designed the Galaxy Note 10.1 to be not just a device for Web surfing, email reading and other forms of what it calls “consumption,” but as a creative device which, according to Samsung, will change the way users learn, draw, share and otherwise interact with their mobile electronic companions.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 with S Pen

At $499 for a unit with 16GB of storage and $549 for a 32GB version, Samsung has the difficult task of convincing the public why they should spend 500-or-so dollars on a Galaxy Note 10.1 instead of an Apple iPad. The answer, according to Samsung representatives at a splashy Aug. 15 launch event in New York, is the S Pen.

The S Pen, which stores neatly in a slot in the back of the Galaxy Note 10.1, can detect more than a thousand levels of pen pressure when combined with the specially designed screen on the tablet. This means that you can draw on the screen as if you had a real pen or brush: A light pressure for a thin pen line or feathery brush stroke or more pressure for a thick line or a heavy coat of virtual paint.

Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America, unveils the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet at New York press conference.

“Make no mistake…this is not a [run-of-the-mill] stylus,” said Travis Merrill, director of marketing for Samsung Electronics America’s Galaxy tablet division. He noted that unlike other tablets which can only detect whether a stylus has made contact with its screen or not, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 can, via electromagnetic resonance, detect the S Pen as it approaches the screen. All necessary power is generated by the tablet–no battery power is needed for the S Pen, he noted.

The combination of the pressure-sensitive screen and high-resolution digitizer built into the Galaxy Note 10.1 means that tasks like painting, document annotation and handwriting recognition are enhanced, he said.

“For the first time, freehand writing on a tablet makes sense,” said Merrill.

Award-winning film director Baz Luhrmann explains what he likes about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 at Aug. 15 product launch event in New York.

During the press conference, award-winning film director Baz Luhrmann said that after a few days with the Galaxy Note 10.1, he found it easy to share and edit storyboards and other information vital to his upcoming  movies.

“This is a creative tool… That’s the game changer for me,” said Luhrmann.

The Galaxy Note’s 10.1-inch, 1,280-by-800-pixel display is driven by a quad-core, 1.4GHz processor, the most powerful to date in Samsung’s Android tablet lineup. The unit comes with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), the latest version of Google’s operating system software for mobile devices. An upgrade to the next Android version (Jelly Bean) will be available later this year, according to Samsung.

The tablet is preloaded with Adobe Photoshop Touch, the Barnes & Noble Nook ebook app, the Kno textbook and learning app and a handful of other productivity and entertainment titles. The tablet had a Multiscreen feature which allows users to run two from a select list of apps at the same time on the same screen. For example, you can have an email app and a Web browser window open at the same time.

Unlike the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 has a microSD card slot for additional storage on removable memory cards and an infrared port, a feature once prevalent on cell phones and PDAs. The infrared port allows the Galaxy Note 10.1 to be used as an intelligent remote control for your current TV and audio equipment.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Android tablet comes in Pearl Gray and Pearl White.

Preinstalled on the tablet is the Peel Smart Remote & TV Listing app, which aids in the process of configuring the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet to work with your electronic gear and provide access to various TV programming guides.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Android tablet can run two apps at the same time on the same screen.

So, will the Galaxy Note 10.1 make a dent in the iPad’s slice of the tablet market? Let the battle begin…and let me know what you think.

Image of Galaxy Note 10.1 with S Pen courtesy of Samsung.
All other images and videos © Copyright 2012 Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features, info@paperpc.net

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