I tried — in a cramped newsroom cubby — to prop up the Note Pro with the snap-on Book Cover; the cover wrapped around the back to work as a stand. Then I placed the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse in front. Unfortunately, the Book Cover was too flimsy to offer much stability, especially if I needed to touch the screen, so I quickly reverted to my laptop instead.
Typing on the separate physical Bluetooth keyboard with the Note Pro worked okay. However, when I didn't have the time or space to set up the keyboard — for example, at news conferences and during meetings where a table wasn't nearby — typing on the virtual keypad was practically impossible. The "keys" wouldn't always respond quickly to my touches, and when I tried to hit the keys a bit more forcefully, they seemed to "stick," so that a string of letters would be produced even after I lifted my fingers away.
I found out later that recent surveys have shown that up to 40% of IT shops are considering replacing their employees' laptops with tablets. (Perhaps that's because many workers are willing to trade a heavier laptop for a lighter tablet; hopefully, they don't really need the ability to type quickly or often.) The touch on the virtual keyboard obviously takes some adjustment — I saw other fast typists at MWC making use of virtual keyboards on their tablets — but I never found the proper pressure and gave up because I had a quick alternative with my MacBook.
One ergonomic note on using a tablet regularly: To type on a tablet that sits flat, most people have to bend their head, neck and back over the screen. It's bad posture by any measure. Most of us know that using a laptop for long periods for years can worsen posture problems, but using a tablet all the time can be potentially worse — as my test of the Note Pro reminded me.
Google Voice and S Pen input shine
Fortunately, the Galaxy Note Pro has input options other than typing, such as Google Voice and Samsung's digital S Pen.
I tried using Google Voice for voice input. I must say, I have never used a more efficient tool to dictate emails and documents quickly; there wasn't even a training period involved. When did voice recognition get so good? Unfortunately, it's hard to dictate in a crowded newsroom.
The S Pen (available with recent Samsung smartphones and tablets) allows you to do a wide variety of tasks. For example, by pushing a button on the S Pen, you can quickly capture a screenshot or draw a line around an object to select it. Pressing the button while holding the pen near the screen brings up a little Air Command radial pop-up window to give you several choices for quick tasks like writing an action memo or finding contents anywhere quickly on the device, including all the video clips or emails written in the past day or the past month.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.