With Samsung Galaxy Note on Hold, What’s the Future of 5-Inch Gadgets?

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While Samsung’s WiFi-only 4 and 5-inch Galaxy Player media players are now set for U.S. rollout on OctSamsung Galaxy Playerober 16, the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note smartphone tablet  (a very close Android OS cousin) has yet to find any wireless carrier partners. What will vendors do with 5-inch gadget form factors moving forward?

The US editions of the Galaxy media players will be practically the same as their already shipping European counterparts, except that Samsung will outfit them with a “soft” button in place of the hard button on the European models, and with Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread) rather than Android OS 2.2 (Froyo), said Ethan Raisel, a Samsung spokesperson, speaking with me at Samsung’s New York City launch event. Detailed specs and first-look photos of the two players — which differ slightly between the 4- and 5-inch models — are included in a related article on our sister site, Brighthand.

On the hardware side, the Galaxy Note gadget first shown at the IFA conference in September isn’t all that distinguishable from the 5-inch Galaxy Player, said Aaron Perkins, senior product manager at Samsung, in an interview at last week’s Samsung event.

The Galaxy Note and Galaxy Player each feature the same Super AMOLED screen that is showing up this fall on 4.5-inch Galaxy S II phones from Sprint and T-Mobile , as well as on a 4.2-inch inch Galaxy S II model from AT&T.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy Note’s screen size is only about one-third of an inch bigger than that of the 5-inch Galaxy Player, Perkins pointed out.

Galaxy Note“The Note’s touchscreen is also slightly more responsive, and we’ve added a stylus for note-taking. That’s why we’re calling it ‘The Note,'” Perkins added.

The Note prototype displayed at the IFA conference also comes with an app called the S Pen for jotting down notes when the device is either in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) mode. Although the Galaxy Note also allows for 3G connectivity, Samsung plans to keep the Galaxy Player a strictly WiFi-only device, according to Perkins.

But Do Enough Users Really Want 5-inch Tablets?
Samsung, however, will not release the Galaxy Note on either side of the Atlantic until wireless carriers are found. “The Samsung Note will be released through wireless carriers, and we haven’t announced any carrier relationships [for it] as yet,” he observed.

On the other hand, widespread customer demand for 5-inch smartphone tablets seems kind of questionable; such as the 5-inch Dell Streak. Although some users complained that the back of the 5-inch Streak kept falling off, others were great fans of the smartphone tablet, finding it to be just the right size.Dell Streak

“[The 5-inch Streak] works perfectly for me and a large screen has [a] much better user experience when you try to do something on it like creating some office documents on the go. Not to mention, a 5-inch screen is much better for Web surfing and watching videos and pictures,” wrote Zen Buddy, in a user review on Amazon.com.

“No need to carry [an] MP3 player, GPS, digital camera, daily planner, etc. It’s all in one now. Technology is a wonderful thing!” according to Zen Buddy.

Not everyone seemed to agree, though. For a short time, Dell sold an unlocked edition of the 5-inch streak for $99 with a purchase of any other Dell product priced at $699 and up. Yet after releasing the 5-incher through carriers such as AT&T in the US and Orange in Europe, Dell pulled the plug on the smartphone tablet hybrid device, deciding instead to focus the Streak brand on larger tablets with bigger and more easily navigable screens.

For media players like the Samsung Player, a 5-inch form factor could make more sense, especially if the pricing is low enough. Samsung is pricing the 4-inch Galaxy Player at $230 and the 5-incher at $270. Better yet, no wireless contract is required.

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