Gigantophones: literally the next big thing in smart phones

Samsung GALAXY Note II (shown in Titanium Gray)
Samsung GALAXY Note II (shown in Titanium Gray)
HP ENVY 23 TouchSmart all-in-one desktop PC
HP ENVY 23 TouchSmart all-in-one desktop PC

Phablet. Gigantophone. Both are freshly-coined terms for smart phones with screens measuring between 5 - 7 inches diagonally, slim, shiny behemoths designed to bridge the gap between a smart phone and a tablet.

The idea of talking on a smart phone with a 5-inch screen seemed ridiculous a few years ago, but not anymore. As devices get thinner and lighter, gigantic screen Android-powered models like the Samsung GALAXY Note II have taken off.

Witness the new HTC DROID DNA, the new HTC One, and the new Samsung Galaxy S4. All sport five-inch screens with stunning pixel density. The Samsung GALAXY Note II has an even bigger screen, but it's more of a phablet, meaning it comes with a pointing device, called the S Pen.

The unit's impressive 16:9 ratio, 5.5" HD Super AMOLED screen that makes it ideal for watching HD videos on-the-go. The Note 2 also caters to anyone who likes to be creative, providing innovative features to gather information, capture ideas, and share content.

To be honest, I wasn't impressed by the original Samsung GALAXY Note, but the sequel is much improved, starting with the new S Pen that is longer, thicker, more sensitive, and easier to grip.

The stylus allows you to combine handwriting with any digital content directly on the screen, and an Easy Clip feature lets you to outline any shape with the pen to copy/cut content to the clipboard.  You can also hover the S Pen over an email, image gallery, or video to preview the content without having to open it.

The GALAXY Note II is powered by a 1.6GHz Quad-Core processor, 2GB RAM, and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean.) Memory options include 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB internal storage with an expandable micro SD memory slot.

The device comes with an 8 megapixel rear-facing and 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera with HD video recording. A function called Best Face lets you to choose the most preferred face or pose of each person from group portrait photos, and you can also personalize photos by leaving handwritten notes on the backside using the S Pen.

The unit's 3,100mAh battery is also a major plus. You can enjoy multimedia content for 12 hours with no sweat. Everyday use will typically get you around 18 hours on a charge, and the battery is removable!

Available in Marble White or Titanium Gray, the Samsung GALAXY Note II is available at AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile. The 16GB unit has an MSRP of $649.99, but you can expect to pay around $300 with a two-year contract. For more information, visit

HP's AIO PC rates an OMG

Two weeks ago, I showed the Lenovo IdeaCente A720 27-inch all-in-one (AIO) desktop PC. The A720 is a nice PC, but what if you don't have the space for a 27-inch AIO desktop? 

HP has a solution -- one that ranges in price from under $1,000 to over $2,000. It's called the HP ENVY 23 TouchSmart all-in-one. Even if you aren't presently interested in an AIO desktop PC, you might want to keep this unit in mind, since Mother's Day and graduation will be here in a few weeks.

The review unit HP sent me (Model HP ENVY 23-c115xt) was absolutely loaded! Take a look at the included hardware/software:

  • Windows 8 Professional 64-bit
  • Intel third-generation Core i7-3770S quad-core processor
  • 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M discrete graphics
  • 16GB DDR3-1600Mhz RAM
  • 2TB 7,200 rpm SATA hard drive
  • Slim-slot Blu-ray writer and SuperMulti DVD burner
  • 6-in-1 card reader
  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • Built-in TV tuner, internal ATSC with PVR
  • RF remote control + dongle
  • Beats Audio sound
  • HP Wireless keyboard and mouse with Win 8 keyboard, plus
  • Wireless-N LAN; gigabit Ethernet jack; Bluetooth
  • Norton Internet Security 2013 - 36 month subscription
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 11

Like the Lenovo A720, the HP ENVY 23 TouchSmart has a 10-point multi-touch display that makes Windows 8 come alive. The 23-inch diagonal HD screen tracks up to 10 fingers at a time for navigation, on-screen typing, and playing games.

The Beats Audio sound is excellent, especially given the overall size of the unit. There is even a connection for an optional subwoofer, although only the most extreme bass lovers will feel the need for it. The unit even has an HDMI input port so you can use the ENVY 23 with a Roku box or a game console.

Oddly, I could only get video from the HDMI port, not embedded audio. Windows kept saying the HDMI audio was there, but the speakers remained silent. I might have missed something, but I was surprised it didn't just work. 

Nevertheless, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a better entertainment hub for a bedroom or dorm room. This is one of the best-performing, most solidly-built all-in-one desktops I have seen -- well-deserving of an OMG rating.

This level of power and versatility doesn't come cheap, however. The price tag for my review unit was $1,999.99. For more information, visit