Samsung's stylus madness is simply madness

Stylus input may be fine and even necessary for some tablet users, but to emphasize it as a trailblazing technology is lame.

Samsung's planning a tablet splash at the end of August. It's expected to introduce a refresh of its five-inch Galaxy Note "phoblet " and an update of its 10-inch Note tablet.

It's also getting into stylus input in a big way. Bad idea.

Despite its awkward size too big for a phone, too small for a tablet, the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note has garnered a following, a following that's looking forward to the new model that's expected to be revealed two days before the opening of the IFA trade show August 29.

According to the latest scuttlebutt, the new 5-inch Note will have a bigger screen (5.5 inches), more processing muscle (quad core CPU with each core running at 1.6MHz or 1.7MHz), more memory, 4G connectivity, and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) out of the box.

Samsung has also scheduled an event in the New York City for August 15 that's expected to be tablet-related. That shindig could be to raise the curtain on the phoblet's big brother, the Galaxy Note 10.1, which the public got a peek at in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

That slate is expected to have a quad core processor with each core running at 1.4GHz, 1280-by-800-pixel display, storage up to 64GB, 2GB of RAM, 5MP and 2MP cameras, and support for multiple wireless modesWi-Fi only, Wi-Fi plus HSPA+, and later this year, Wi-Fi plus LTE.

With the introduction of these updates, it appears that Samsung is determined to assert its superiority over the leading tablet in the market, Apple's iPad, by emphasizing stylus input. That's a bad idea, unless Samsung wants to build a reputation as a non-innovator.

Stylus: Not New, Not Innovative

Stylus input has been around for a long time. It's one of the reasons that tablets before the iPad never captured the consumer imagination.

Scribbling on an electronic display is so unlike writing on paper that only niche usersartists, delivery drivers, meter readers, Palm fetishists and suchwill tolerate it.

It's why "electronic pens" have gained popularity from time to time. Devices like LiveScribe recognize that the tactile response of pen on paper is far superior to the ersatz experience emulated on a computer screen.

Then there's the "something else to lose" factor. Styluses, like pens, get lost. Unlike pens, though, you can't pop into a drugstore and pick up a new one. Sure, Samsung has cozy places on their slates to store their styluses, but you can't avoid this corollary of Murphy's Law: if a pen can get lost, it will get lost.

Stylus input may be fine and even necessary for some tablet users, but to emphasize it as a trailblazing technology is lame. If Samsung thinks it can sell stylus input as a competitive advantage over the iPad, then the iPad is going to remain in the cat bird's seat in the tablet market for some time to come.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)
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