One of the perks of this job is getting to travel to (mostly) interesting places and play with shiny new toys as (and sometimes before) they’re announced. But while live events can be a lot of fun, there’s also a huge amount of work involved. There’re press conferences to be liveblogged, videos to be shot, photos to be taken and words to be written, all the while dealing with crowds of sweaty tech journalists and spotty data connections.
As we said in our review, the Samsung Galaxy Note isn’t the phone for everyone -- its size alone makes sure of that. But the device has found a place at the heart of my workflow whenever I’m covering a live event, be it a simple phone launch in London, or the back-to-back mobile armageddon that is MWC in Barcelona, Spain. The Note’s size makes it a capable content creation device, in addition to its media consumption prowess. Head past the break to find learn how I use the Note to keep on top of live events for Android Central.
In the midsts of a major phone or tablet announcement, it’s important to keep in touch with the rest of the team, especially if you’re flying solo. Gmail and Google Talk are both obvious choices for this.
We’ve got a writers’ mailing list that allows us to keep track of what we’re writing, and lets Phil yell at us when we do something dumb. And as we’re all using Android phones, Google Talk is often faster and easier for short messages than SMS or email.
In addition to Google’s stuff, we also use Campfire’s real-time group chat service to keep things running smoothly whenever we’re dealing with bigger events like MWC or CES. When we’re on the go, the Campyre app for Android lets us keep in touch with each other just as if we were sitting in front of a desktop browser.
Liveblogging is best done from a proper keyboard, we’re not going to argue that. But if there’s more than one of us covering an event, then the CoverItLive app for Android does a serviceable job. In particular, the ability to grab photos directly on the device and upload straight to the stream is extremely useful -- often on a PC you’d have to resort to juggling cables or SD cards to perform this kind of task.
Swype comes pre-loaded on the Galaxy Note too, and when you combine it with the Note’s S Pen, it ranks among the fastest, most accurate typing experience you can have on a virtual keyboard. It's not quite fast enough to liveblog, but it comes perilously close. And it's certainly up to the task of Swyping out a few photo captions as you’re uploading.
Google Drive may have just launched, but most of the AC team still uses Dropbox to juggle around files, and the simplicity of the service makes it a great choice. Features like instant photo upload are useful for shooting quick “we’re here!” pictures back to the site when we arrive at a venue. And the Galaxy Note’s USB host support means it’s even possible to upload a full complement of high-res device pics directly from an SD card to the cloud without booting up your PC or Mac -- and that’s pretty freaking cool if you ask us.
This is probably the coolest and most useful set tricks the Galaxy Note has up it’s 5.3-inch sleeve. The device supports USB Host (aka USB OTG), meaning you can hook up removable storage to the phone using an USB OTG cable. That includes your SD card reader, and even some digital cameras. And when you consider that the Note also includes a fully-functional video editor and (like all Android phones) YouTube upload capabilities, it suddenly becomes feasible to check, edit and upload hands-on videos directly on the device.
In the right situation, this has meant we’ve been able to shoot hands-on videos back-to-back, and have them processing and uploading on the Note while we’re recording the next one. That, in turn, has meant that our videos are already uploaded and waiting for us when it's time for things to be written-up.
That’s not the only benefit of USB host, though. Often companies at major tech events will provide specs, press releases or official images on SD cards or USB sticks, and being able to view these without firing up that PC or Macbook can be invaluable, especially, when you’re huddled outside an auditorium.
With all that extra productivity and efficiency in our live event coverage, we’ve saved time for more important things, like screwing around with OMGPOP’s excellent Draw Something game. If there’s one Android game that’s a perfect match for the precision of the Note’s S Pen, it’s this, and we’d be amazed if Sammy didn’t partner with the developer to bundle this app onto future S Pen devices.
So there you have it. It’s not possible to completely eliminate laptops from equation when covering live tech events -- after all, no-one’s going to try to write up a full article or hands-on post on a virtual keyboard. But with the right selection of apps, the Galaxy Note can perform a surprising array of content creation tasks.
For me, the most useful feature of the Note is its ability to reduce amount of time spent tethered to a computer waiting for things to render or upload. It’s an exciting step towards truly mobile content creation, and you can bet I’ll be packing my Note when we arrive in London this Thursday to cover Samsung’s next big thing...