February 16, 2012, 6:10 AM — The first generation of Android tablets -- such as the original Galaxy Tab and the Dell Streak -- were perversions of the Google Android smartphone operating system, blowing up the UI designed for a 3.5-inch screen to devices with displays as large as 7 inches. They were awkward devices that Google itself warned manufacturers not to create, asking them instead to await its true tablet version of Android. But for nearly a year, because of Google's slow progress, these ungainly smartphone-derived tablets were Android's only response to the iPad. Ironically, their disappointing execution helped cement Apple's near-monopoly on customer satisfaction. Finally, Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" arrived, followed by solid Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Motorola Mobility Droid Xyboard.
This January, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note, an Android smartphone with a 5.3-inch screen meant to straddle the line between smartphone and tablet. It boasts not just the huge screen, but a stylus for drawing and annotating, as well as some communications apps reworked to use its larger screen. AT&T describes it as an experiment in service of innovation and customers' varied needs. This weekend, it will ship in the United States on the AT&T Wireless 3G and (very small but growing) 4G networks for $300 with a two-year contract, $650 without. Run, don't walk, as fast as possible away from this monstrosity.