Leeloo has been nagging me about my pile of draft papers on my standing desk for a long time, and I was looking for a replacement ever since. Once I got my Samsung Galaxy S III, I though it would be the right time, so I bought a dedicated pen, the Samsung Galaxy C-Pen. Here is my opinion about this device.
This pen is about 5½ inches long (14cm) and ⅓ inches thick (1cm), weights about 1 oz 1 dr (30g) and is quite easy to take and use, it can easily be slipped in a pocket. It can be used instead of the finger to navigate on the Galaxy S3 interface. First complaint, the pen is not working on the Back and Menu buttons at the bottom of the screen. This is especially disturbing because I am using the Back button a lot, and it gets quickly annoying to switch all the time between the pen and the finger. However the pen works correctly to navigate on the screen, with some increase in pointing precision and it is even easier to browse the web on websites not especially designed for smartphones.
Writing or drawing with the C-pen
The first challenge when you want to use your phone to handwrite notes or draft small drawings is finding the right application. What I wanted was an equivalent of a small notebook with a pen, nothing more, to write some ideas, invent some assemblies for my furniture building, lay down small sketches… I tested several applications but only retained one, Sketchbook from Autodesk. It’s a small application well made and adequately designed for the screen of my Galaxy S3.
However, even if the application looks great, using it with the pen rapidly shows its limitations. Indeed the phone is not reactive enough to follow the hand. Even when I remove the power saving mode, which prevents the processor to run full speed, it is clearly impossible to write comfortably. And although I tried to select the most basic drawing tool, without any special effect or pressure sensitivity, drawing and especially writing just gets very frustrating. The pen is clearly not reactive enough, it does not start the line as soon as you touch the screen, there is a delay in the drawing, this is just unusable.
Moreover, if the pen is OK for navigation purpose, the point is clearly too bold for drawing, it is imprecise, and not sensitive enough. You often need to press hard to start drawing and this is really not an enjoyable experience. I had the opportunity to test a Samsung Galaxy Note II, which has a dedicated and different stylus, far more precise and adequately reactive, but still the phone lacks some horsepower to be able to draw and handwrite comfortably.
So, either the application I chose is not sufficiently optimized for my phone, or the phone itself is not powerful enough to handle this kind of task. I guess the later is the right answer, as none of the applications I tested were fluid enough to draw or handwrite with the C-Pen.
As a conclusion I would solely recommend this C-Pen for someone who wants a better interface navigation, or to be able to use the phone with gloves, for example. For any other uses this pen is far to imprecise and the phone underpowered to provide a working solution.
Maybe the new Samsung Galaxy S4 will have the adequate processor to provide a convincing experience, or even better, the Samsung Galaxy Note III, with its dedicated pen far more enjoyable than this C-Pen for the Galaxy S3 as it was especially developed for the Note screen, and is far more precise and sensitive than the C-Pen for the S3.
Bit I am still convinced that most of the current smartphones have not yet reached the adequate processor power to let you write and draw as simply as on a basic piece of paper. That may not be far away in the future, though, maybe the best phones of 2013 will have the necessary screen resolution, sensitivity and processor speed to let you forget that you have a $500 device in your hands and not a $5 notebook and a simple pen…