10 reasons why the S Pen beats touch on the Note 8.0
26th Jun 2013 | 18:07
The S Pen is mightier than the finger
To paraphrase Edward Bulwer-Lytton's famous adage: "The pen is mightier than the sword", we'd say that the pen, or more specifically, the S Pen is also mightier than the finger.
At least it is when it comes to the Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0.
With its pressure sensitivity and smart feature-set, we've got ten examples of S Pen beating the finger hands-down.
1. Air View
Air View was such a cool S Pen feature on the Note II, that Samsung decided to include it on the Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0.
Transforming your S Pen into something of a magic wand, Air View turns a hover into an input. Generally used to preview elements of the interface, it works in the gallery for example, as a means of peering into an album
Air View also works in the Video Player, with a hover over a point in the timeline popping up a preview of that specific frame.
The Samsung email app takes full advantage of the touch-free tech, previewing body copy of messages, while in S Planner, Samsung's calendar app, Air View gives you an insight into your agenda for any given day you hover above.
2. Pressure Sensitivity
The Wacom digitizer inside the Note 8.0 is S Pen exclusive, detecting up to 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Using the same technology as found in professional graphic design tablets, it gives the tablet some real creative credibility.
Why would you want a pressure sensitive tablet? Because, when combined with pen input, writing and drawing feel much more like the real thing.
The harder you press your S Pen on the screen, the thicker the stroke it makes. The S Pen actually supports the same degree of sensitivity found in Wacom's Intuos range of design tablets, the number one choice for most professional design studios – neat stuff eh?
3. S Note
What good is a swanky Wacom Digitizer without some apps to take advantage of it?
Samsung kits the Note 8.0 out with plenty of these, but none more fit-for-purpose than S Note. Supporting multiple note styles, S Note is perfect for a quick jot, doodle, mind-map or work of art.
With an extensive array of brushes and input modes, it's simple to navigate around and as fully functional as you need your 8-inch jotter to be.
4. Quick commands
There are a couple of quick commands on the Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0 that result in slicker S Pen input. These involve the S Pen button, so hold it down and lets get to it:
The first is related to the wonderful S Note we just spoke about. Double tap anywhere on the display with the S Pen button held down and you'll pop up an on-the-go Post-it style note for a quick bit of S Pen action. These are then saved in your S Note app for your convenience.
The next gesture involves a vertical motion up with the S Pen button held down. This opens a Quick Command dialogue box, where you can then enter a predefined symbol to do handy things like search the internet or send an email.
These symbols can be customised and you can even add your own new ones, breaking down the walls between your S Pen and gesture input.
5. Handwritten emails
There's nothing like a handwritten letter or email, and there's no finger that can match the precision of the S Pen in creating one.
The Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0's Mail app makes this nostalgic, heartfelt means of messaging possible. Once your new mail account is set-up, just open a new email, enter your recipient details, a subject, and then finally, tap on the handwriting icon in the toolbar.
Here, you can handwrite your well-wishes, complete with doodles, heart dotted 'i's or signatures for work related correspondences.
6. Handwriting recognition
You've gotten a taste for writing haven't you? We're not surprised, there's nothing quite like putting Pen to paper, or putting S Pen to panel in this case.
Fortunately, the writing aspect of the Note 8.0 isn't restricted to the email app – it pervades throughout the entire UI.
Just tap inside a text entry field to pull up your keyboard. You should see a cog icon on the bottom left side. Once tapped, you'll be able to choose your input method, and low and behold, handwriting recognition is an option.
So advanced is the feature on the Note 8.0, we found it replaced the keyboard 90 per cent of the time, proving to be an accurate and satisfying way of Googling, messaging and note taking.
Any Android tablet or phone can take a screenshot, it's not a big deal, but only S Pen clad GALAXY Notes can snip a portion of the screen, cutting out the laborious step of cropping your screenshot.
To clip an area of the screen, just hold down the S Pen button and draw around an area of the UI you want to clip. This saves the exact shape you draw as a transparent PNG file that you can quickly send.
What makes the clipping even more time-saving is that clips are saved to your clipboard database. These can be pasted into S Note and various parts of the UI with just a few taps.
8. Sketchbook Pro
The S Pen is indeed mighty thanks to everything Samsung does to make it so, but there are a couple of third party apps out there that make the whole experience even more superior to the humble finger.
The first is Sketchbook Pro (£3.35). This artist's app is the ultimate sketching tool on Android. Not only does it support the S Pen's pressure sensitivity, it also couples this it with support for layers. You can even import images from the Samsung GALAXY Note 8.0's camera to work from.
Once done, save your creation as a picture file such as a JPEG, or as a PSD file. You can then work on your masterpiece later, either on the go using Photoshop Touch on your Android tablet or the full Photoshop when you get to your computer or laptop.
9.Sudoku - S Pen
With Sukoku – S Pen Jam has put together the most natural way of playing Sudoku since the humble newspaper became the go-to for the mind-bending game.
What's so special about this version of Sudoku? You write in your numbers using the S Pen. It doesn't hurt that the UI looks charming, with a Far Eastern theme and a clean Sudoku board.
The app requires a quick set-up in which you scribble down the numbers 1 to 9. Once it's figured out your handwriting style, you can select your difficulty and get playing.
10. Your brain
There's plenty of evidence out there supporting the theory that handwriting stimulates your brain in a way that typing simply can't.
To quote the Wall Street Journal, "The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development."
The same article goes onto highlight ways cursive input also activates "massive regions involved in thinking, language and working memory".
So there you have it, the S Pen is indeed mightier than the finger – it's fun, creative and it even makes you smarter.