Track Tech: Verizon Wireless' Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Tablet

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During the month of May, I was honored to cover the Verizon IndyCar Series events as a Social Media Influencer on behalf of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the generosity of Verizon Wireless. Upon arrival to the Speedway, prior to the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, a team of us were greeted and offered tablets to use for our coverage. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet was provided to us by Verizon Wireless and for me personally, made my job seamless, efficient and honestly… FUN!

Having never used a tablet regularly for personal means, I sat down in pagoda plaza and got ready to set it up. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 operates on the Android OS and it took nearly no time at all to get moving with it – I entered my Google login information during the opening prompt so it could pull my G+ & Gmail accounts, preferences and Picasa web photos. Then, upon the suggestion of my fellow SMI team member, Kelsey (@KelseyUSA), I opened the Google Play store in order to download the social media apps that I would be utilizing for my coverage during the month. I had originally tried to visit these social media sites via the Chrome browser but that was not nearly as efficient. I downloaded both Twitter & Facebook apps – both of which I already had accounts for, making logins easy – and before I knew it, I was off and running! Of course my first picture of the month was the IMS Pagoda… because, yes.

Normally, I have my Samsung camera connected to my hand at the racetrack like another appendage, and I was concerned at first that not using my trusty camera for the majority of my shots could contribute to lower quality shots. This was not the case at all. The 8 megapixel camera built in to this tablet took surprisingly crisp images when in regular 1.0 zoom mode or even 2.0. Once you hit 3.0 or 4.0 with the zoom, which was the highest level, shots became slightly more grainy unless you had exceptional lighting. For close-up shots, such as getting a zoomed in shot of a Verizon IndyCar Series drivers eyes as they sat in their car in the pit box, I would grab my personal camera with 18x zoom. However I would say other than that low percentage of shots, everything else I captured the entire month was done on the Note.

My favorite features of the Note’s camera were the settings of Beauty Face when taking selfies with friends, fans and #indyfamily as well as the Panoramic setting – particularly when visiting the top of the Pagoda thanks to a tour with JMI early in the month. While no photo can do that view justice, this setting came pretty darn close! I also tried out the Sports setting but mostly kept it on Auto and snapped photos in my own time with real lighting and no filter. I liked being able to tap the screen (which was in and of itself a huge viewfinder) in order to focus the lens on one particular area of what I was shooting. This is not always easy to do on a point and shoot camera, as the lens sometimes focuses on the object closest to you, rather than the object you may be trying to focus on. Also, the ability to keep snapping as a DW12 drove by me on the track allowed me to have 5 or 6 shots of one car and gave me the option to pick which shot I preferred to post. I liked this, as my personal camera does not take shots one after the other so consistently. The editing feature was great because I could crop photos and still get them posted while relevant – sharing photos I was proud of, with followers that were looking for real-time updates. I’m so grateful to Verizon Wireless for providing me with such a fantastic tool for the month of May.

The camera was not the only great feature of this tablet. In addition to having a strong, reliable and constant connection to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network, the Note allowed me to get timely updates out on Twitter & Facebook as well as keep up with follower & friend feedback – sending out replies, responding to requests from followers for shots of particular drivers, teams and cars, etc and keeping communication constant from my Gmail account to direct messaging in the Facebook & Twitter applications. Speaking of fan and follower interaction, I was able to use the tablets Note/Action Memo feature with the S-pen to keep track of things that happened throughout the day. By using the handwriting feature on the memos, I had a digital set of post-it notes! And by using the keyboard feature on the memos, I was able to create a virtual sign-in sheet to assist Amy (@openwheelmom) at the Indy Fans Tweet Up over Indy 500 Qualifying weekend!

This feature was awesome and allowed me to have everything at the tip of my fingers, without needing to find pen and paper and THEN worry about losing that piece of paper in the bottomless pit that is my track-bag! Using the notes/memos feature allowed me to name each specific note, making it easy to pull it back up on screen whenever I needed to double check what had happened for a write-up or see where I was with things on my ever-expanding to-do list!

My only real issue was that the battery life of the tablet seemed to drain relatively quickly when using it constantly throughout the day. I attempted to charge it at the Verizon Wireless charging stations in the pits and in IndyCar Fan Village, but the charging process was very slow and would only move up a few percentage bars even when plugged in for 30-40 minutes without use. I ended up bringing the charger that the tablet came with, with me to the track and plugging in whenever I was stationary and near an available outlet.

Truthfully, the battery life for regular use is not an issue – but for constant use such as with social media coverage at a race track, it would be best used in conjunction with a mobile battery pack such as a Mophie. This is true of most electronic devices whose use is constant and necessary. Mophies are available from Verizon Wireless and come in different forms, sizes, and price ranges. I highly suggest making the investment in one of these if you plan on needing a guaranteed power source in a pinch, like at Verizon IndyCar Series race weekends! I am looking into purchasing one of these in the very near future.

All in all, my experience using the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet was a very positive one – so much so that it was hard to let it go at the end of the month. I can’t lie to you guys… I still miss it! If you are looking for a tablet, I would highly suggest checking this one out – it was easy to learn straight out of the box and still allowed room for growth as the user became more familiar with its features and more comfortable with how it operated. Of course, having the Verizon Wireless network back up the Galaxy Note is what made it truly seamless in its reliability and a real pleasure to use.

Make sure to head in to your local Verizon Wireless retailer to try out the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, or simply check it out in more detail here and order one online! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!