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Episode 18: Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Note 2This week on Always On, we dig into the international Note 2, find out whether the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultra is as rugged as it claims, and check out cars that stop themselves and give massages on command.
-Mom, can you hear me? This week on Always On, we have a phablet. Oh yeah. It's the all-new Galaxy Note 2. In our torture chamber this week is the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook. -Give me a massage. -Plus we check out the future of cars. Always On is on. -Wow. -Hi, I'm Molly Wood. Welcome to Always On, the show where we take a look at the tech that's part of your life and your future. Last year, the sleeper phone hit of the season was the Samsung Galaxy Note. It was the little phablet with the S Pen, and I could not believe how many people loved it. This week, I have the brand new Note 2, and I'm about to unbox it. Inside this box, we have the Galaxy Note 2. Now, we ordered the international unlocked version because the US model won't be available until the end of the month, we hope, but I could not wait to get my hands on it. Now, the original Note became a little bit of a cult hit. You know, it's the huge, I know, I'm not supposed to say phablet, but it's like phone/tablet, so everybody started calling it that and it was horrible, but it kind of cut on, and it comes with this, whatever. I wanna get inside the box. Let's see what the new one looks like instead of talking about the old one. Now, we just got this box, so I'm actually hoping that the Note 2 is inside and that we somehow didn't get it screwed up. Oh yeah. All right. Let's see. Let's get to the goods-- Wooh, Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Note the resemblance to the Apple packaging. I'm just saying, no reason. All right. All right, wooh. All right, this one is white. So you can see it looks actually quite a lot like the Samsung Galaxy SIII. Let's get it out of the box. Just for you unboxing fans, we'll see what comes inside the box. We have our quick-start guide, charging cable. It comes with EarPods; I mean headphones. These are kind of the in-ear style and they've got volume control on there that looks like maybe some phone answering. That's a nice touch because you're never going to hold that phone up to your ear. It's good to have this. All right. We have our battery. It's good to have-- Oh, look, it even comes with like a bunch of different earbuds. I gotta say preferable to the EarPods which are one size fits all. Then, we have-- Oh, there's all kinds of stuff in here. We got our power brick. Kind of an interesting design there. So, this Note is actually a little bit bigger than the last model, although it's definitely lighter. Of course, they don't have the battery in yet, but the width seems to be about the same. It's a big phone. Don't get me wrong. I laughed a lot when I heard that it was gonna be bigger because I thought to myself, "Yeah, you know what? I really want the Note to be bigger." Nevertheless, here it is. Okay. My real question is where's my stylus? Oh, there it is. It's at the bottom. Am I too stupid for that stylus? I think it's this thing out of here. Oh, oh. Okay. Stylus fits nice and snug. Let's get the battery in here. We have our SIM card slot. It also takes a microSD expandable memory. I'm a big fan of that. Hopefully it's at least a little bit charged up. This is the danger of the true unboxing. Okay. Let's see if we can get this guy to come on. There we go. Samsung Galaxy Note 2. And after a while, with the SIII, I have to say it doesn't feel that gigantic. It definitely feels bigger, but it's not so shocking as the original Note, which really felt like "why are you doing this?" All right, let's get to the specs on this bad boy. As I mentioned, the screen is slightly larger than the original. It's a 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED screen with the 1280 x 720 resolution. The original Note is 5.3 inches. It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. That is good news. There's a 1.6-gigahertz quad-core processor in the international version. The original was a dual-core processor. It also comes with that redesigned stylus, the S Pen. It's now more ergonomic and has thicker, longer body than the original. It comes in 16 gigs, 32 gigs, or 64 gigs, and it has 2 gigs of RAM on board. There is a microSD slot and it's expandable up to 64 gigs if you just get the 16-gig model. There's an 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. It also has a 3100-milliamp battery, which means it should get decent battery life. You're gonna want that with this big screen. Now, the one complaint that people have about a phone this size other than the problem with the pockets is that it's also a little bit awkward to talk on; although, I don't think that's such a big deal. Mom, can you hear me? I know. I'm not totally sold on that. I'm not totally sold on the stylus, but I'm willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, I won't have that much longer with this phone because we are going to torture it. I hope it survives. I kind of wanna know what life is like with a phablet. Now, speaking of torture, remember a few weeks ago we unboxed that ruggedized carbon-fiber ThinkPad X1 Ultra Book? Well, we also went ahead and try to find out how rugged it really is. See the results are right now. Now we unboxed this guy a couple of weeks ago, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon UltraBook. It's supposed to be rugged, so let's find out. First up, into my tiny, tiny freezer. Put it in our drawer here. Okay. Some ice came. It's been 2 hours. Let's see how our ThinkPad is doing in the cold. Ooh, that is cold. That is cold. That is cold. That is cold. Crystallization, obviously. All right, let's see if it can turn on. Oop. There we go. Look at that. This guy doesn't even need time. It's just coming right on. What a champ. Actually, this is pretty impressive because if you remember the MacBook Air didn't really wanna wake up out of sleep, but this guy, not a problem. Our ThinkPad X1 Carbon had no problem with the cold. Let's see how it does with the heat. All right. We have our oven at 200 degrees. In we go. Ohh, God. This feels wrong. Okay. 1 hour. Off we go. All right. Let's see how it's doing. Ooh. It's smelling a little belt melty. Very chemical. This is probably off gassing in a way that I don't wanna think about right now. Okay. I am going to assume it's very hot to the touch. Haha, it is. Let's just go ahead and let this little cake rest for a while and then we'll fire it up and see how it's doing. All right, it looks like our pie is done here. It has cooled off enough to remove from the pan. Definitely still warm to touch on the bottom. That kind of scary-- ooh-- scary chemical smell has not gone away. That probably just took 2 years off my life just taking a whiff of that. We have a little bit of warpage, it looks like, on one of our covers here. We have a little leakage from one of our stickers. Other than that, no obvious damage. Let's see if we can get it to come on. So, it didn't wake up right from sleep. Oh, you can see we've got some warping here too. The screen is starting to separate from the cover and I can't snap it back in a little bit. So, we definitely have cracking coming away from the lid on both corners. It did not shut down successfully in the oven. No surprise there. Let's start Windows normally. Okay. On startup, we're okay. The screen looks good. Everything seems to be working as normal. Battery life is about the same, although we definitely have a little bit of obvious warping around the screen. So, try not to leave this one in the car in a really hot day. I'm still gonna call it generally a success. Okay. Now, we do usually do water for our water test, but I realize that almost every morning, I stand here and I make my coffee and I check my e-mail and I look at the news, and you know? That is really just a disaster waiting to happen. Oh, it's just awesome. I can't believe I just did that. Oh, hot coffee in the keyboard. I know you've all done this. Oh, that was dramatic. I would like to note that the screen is still on. Once again though, this laptop is just about too hot to touch. I think I need a new towel. Okay now. As usual, when you spill, the key is to try to get the laptop into a position where you can let all that water drip out, the coffee in this case. Though, I gotta say, it doesn't seem to be having any problem so far. We'll check it again in a little while here after I let it dry a bit. Maybe I'll just hang it upside down. That looks official. Now, we never even did a drop test on this ThinkPad because frankly, it was just too damaged at that point. I did do a little emergency surgery though to try to open it up and dry it out. That's something you could try at home. So here's what it looks like. -Oh wow. Yeah. -Ooh. -There was a lot that got in here. -Oh my God. -Yeah. -I feel like I wanna get my my hair dryer up. I let it lay out like that on my counter for a couple of days, and now, it's the moment we've all been waiting for. Did it recover? Let's find out. I have it plugged into the power and it kinda comes on. Now, I've plugged it in before and every time I basically just get a message that says, you know, like I'm not okay. Try to start Windows. Ooh, let's see if we can get it to restart. The problem is that the trackpad-Oh, maybe this one will work. Oh, come on. The trackpad is no longer responsive and neither is the keyboard. So, it wants to come back to life, but these few components are just not working right. I think that's probably fixable, although all of that lid damage was really pretty disappointing. I don't know. It might be okay with a little love, and care, and money. Speaking of all of that, it is time to announce our next torture test giveaway. You may remember that we successfully turned the iPhone 4S into a lovely white brick. And now it could be yours. Just go to CNET.com/Always On to get details on how you could win the iPhone 4S that we tested. All right, we're gonna take a quick break here at Always On. When we come back, I'll answer some of your mail. But before that, let's have a look at the future of cars. -This week on Future Tech, the future of cars. Now, yeah, that's pretty awesome, but I think when you see what's coming from safety to performance to entertainment, you'll still be pretty impressed. We hit the road to get a sneak peek at how car makers envision the car of tomorrow. I'm here at Ford's Innovation Lab where they're figuring out the best way to adjust a seat, and I mean 3 different interfaces including voice control to work on a seat that can even give you a massage. Okay. -Say your command. -Give me a massage. Oh, totally is. This is awesome. -Say your command. -Recline seat backward. Wooh. Okay. -Say your command. -Move seat back. -Say your command. -Move seat all the way down. I wanna be like and then I can cruise. The humble driver seat is also getting reinvented in other ways. The next frontier in driving is real-time driver information. This seat is actually measuring my respiration. The steering wheel is measuring my heart rate, whether I'm at all sweaty. The car can tell whether I'm destructed and then actually take steps to minimize those destructions. So far, I seemed to be doing okay. My heart beats per minute is 60, 19 breaths. The seatbelt can tell if I start to breathe more heavily because I'm stressed out as a driver. Even if I don't think I'm stressed, the car will know. I can't wait to see what it does with my road rage. It has temperature sensors to see if I get hot in the face. Maybe in the future, it could say like "Sweetie, I think you're getting a cold, maybe you should go home." Engineers are also coming up with innovative ways to make sitting in your car more comfortable using GiGi data-driven design. So what I'm doing here is measuring seat ergonomics. I have these motion capture sensors on me and I'm gonna try to get into this very small little backseat of a car. Then, Ford will use that data to make sort of a digital human version of me that can help in figuring out better design for backseats so that I don't stick my knees in the back of the driver every time. There I am. -It can move. -It's like a puppet. -You guys see the [unk]. -Oh my gosh, look at this! It's like an airplane seat. That's why I try to never sit in the backseat of any car. I look a lot more elegant as a digital human than I probably did as a real human. Probably the coolest thing about the car of the future will be that it can drive itself. Concepts are already in existence. Google has its self-driving car and Stanford is racing an Audi TTS on a track hands free. Well, what you might not know is that incremental steps toward autonomous driving are also underway. At Ford, we talked to CTO, Paul Mascarenas, about the march of technology and the driving experience. -We don't say that, you know, one day we're gonna wake up and there's gonna be an autonomous vehicle. We don't say that. What we absolutely do say though is increasing availability of more connectivity in the vehicle, increasing availability of more automated driving features. -For example, using on-board computers, sensors, and cameras, the car is able to alert me when there's another car nearby, possibly preventing a collision. -You know, we talked about-- Now you just got your little warning. -I did it. I almost hit that car. -You did. -That's [unk]. -To the garage shop? I know I didn't-- -I know. Good job, car. -I'd like to leave and jump out of my seat. -It wasn't very scary. -GM is also developing similar technologies that will keep you in your lane if you start to drift. In this case, the actual seat alerts you with a little vibration. -Oh yeah. That actually-- that's really smart. So it's-- the slow drift triggers it as opposed to something that feels kind of intentional. -Right. You know, people make lane changes, evasive maneuvers. -Uh-huh. -And so, we try and only give them the warning when they really need it. -It's kind of tricky, but I have to try it out. Oh. Ooh! I felt it. But my favorite demo of the day was rear-automatic braking. In my opinion, this safety tech is the closest thing to autonomous driving because the car actually takes control. -This is probably the first time we've ever had the car actually take control away from the driver. -Yeah. Toot to do to do. -Yeah. -Just kind of hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm. Oh my God! -What happened? -And it's vibrating like crazy. Look how close it was. I was totally like prepared to hit the pole. I'm like "there's no way this is gonna stop." Can we do that again? -Yeah. -Wow. Even when it's [unk]. That is remarkable. Does it mostly work with stationary objects like if that was actually a kid? -It will try to work with moving objects. Very helpful. -Over time. -This is so cool. -So you get. So-- -Now, I'm hooked. And hooked might even be an understatement. I mean, whether it's having a car stop itself to prevent a crash, a seat that measures your heart rate, or a seat that gives me a massage, the car of the future is definitely one that I wanna ride in. Now, when I was growing up, I thought we would have flying cars by now, but I'll totally settle for self-driving cars. Think about all the work you could get done if your car was driving for you. Love it. Google's Sergey Brin says we will have self-driving cars within 5 years. I don't wanna bet against Sergey, but I mean have you ever been to the Department of Transportation? DMV? They don't really move that fast. First up in e-mail today, "Hey, Molly, I'm from Los Angeles, California, and I was wondering if you can torture test devices with cases. For example, the OtterBox, they say they protect the device really good. So why not try it some season? Love your show and you stay beautiful, Calvin." Oh, that's so sweet. "P. S. I'm 12, possibly the youngest viewer on your show." Smiley face. I don't think it's legal for you to call me beautiful, but thank you. Also, I think maybe I've seen an e-mail from somebody who is 11. Although none of that is your topic. Cases. Yeah, I've actually been thinking about doing a case shootout because we keep getting pitches for them, and it would be kind of useful to know if, you know, they can take a drop or a drop up a building, or car driving over them. The possibilities are endless once we start getting into cases. I like it. Moving on, subject line, Power Surge A. "I agree with the power surge test. I am always scared to love my phone or laptop plugged in when power goes out." I would agree with you for that too. "And, I don't get this whole fad with torture testing TVs. Point is, haha, love the show. Love, Ken Snidget from Canada A." There's so much going on in this e-mail that I don't even know where to start. Okay. We'll try the power surge test, and I think if you live in an earthquake country and not Canada, you would definitely get the TV torture test thing. All right. Next up in the e-mails. "I enjoy your show and I'm always looking forward to your torture test to help me decide on future gadget purchases. I have just finished watching episode 15 where Jeff tested the Lumia phone. I was a little worried about how he tested the phone by going into the pool with the phone in his pocket." -What? Wait, what? Oh, oh. -"As you probably know, modern lithium-ion batteries store a lot of energy within a small space." -Yeah. -"The energy density on fully charged batteries is actually approaching the energy density of small explosives." -Oh no. -"A short circuit on the battery turmoils caused by being immersed in water could release a significant amount of current and in some rare instances cause the battery to burn or explode." -Oh. -"On a related note, I know that the number one enemy of batteries is heat. I'd be interested to know if the battery life of gadgets that have survived the heat test has been significantly degraded. I'm not sure if you've done battery life testing on gadgets to see if the battery life has decreased after an oven test. Thanks for reading this, Ace." Ace, I totally sent this to Jeff and told him that he could have died doing that, and he said, he definitely won't be jumping into any more pools with gadgets in his pocket especially. I haven't done any battery life test specifically, but I will say that I've been using the Samsung Galaxy SIII that we have tortured like crazy, and I've definitely noticed that the battery life is not what it used to be. So, I think you're maybe on to something; although, that could also have been from the cold, the dropping, the water, or the washing machine. It's kind of hard to say. Moving on on our e-mails, "Hey, Molly, Mowlley, Mowlley, ah Molly. I am from Lebanon, but I was born in Canada. I love your show and I want to work with you. Look like a good team. Please accept. I want to take your place on the show. Ha. I'm diabolic. Okay. Thanks for this wonderful show, by Mohammed." I don't know why you say thanks for this wonderful show if you wanna kill me and take it over. You can try. Moving on, "Hello Molly, I'm coming and writing this from small country called Croatia. Since I see you like geography, I provided a map with location." Here we go again. Nuts. "I wanted to say that your show is absolutely amazing. I watch it every week and can't wait for the next episode. iPhone 5 torture test was great and I was surprised that it survived water test. Also, can you torture test iPod Touch 4th or 5th generation since you didn't do it? So now that we are over with that, I just wanted to say that all other categories, road test, unboxings, etcetera are awesome too. I like your cheerful attitude and that you are always smiling. That makes me also happy. Thank you. Keep up the good work, Leo." Now, that we've gotten that out in the way, Leo, we have gotten a lot of requests to torture the iPod Touch. I wasn't actually sure if there was gonna be any interest in it at all because I thought it was sort of weird and like who needs that anymore, but I guess we're gonna have to do it because a lot of you seem to want that. Actually, just keep e-mailing me and let me know and maybe we'll read some critical mass and then buy one. Next up, "Dear Always On, instead of always dropping your devices from up high, you should put the phone in your lap, get out of a car like I did with my 6-hour old iPhone. It fails. Sincerely, Bret from Saint Louis." I've looked at this picture. Oh, Bret, that hurts. But also, our camera guy has also said that he does that all the time, drive along with the phone in his lap-- which seems kind of dangerous to me, radiation and everything-- and then gets out and it falls on the ground. So, okay, we'll do that one next time. And thank you for all of the awesome feedback and suggestions. As you can see, they do show up in the show sometimes, so keep it coming. Always On at CNET.com is our e-mail address. You can also reach me at Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. Next week on Always On, we should have some news about the rumored iPad Mini. We will torture the Galaxy Note 2, and Sharon will be back with an all new how to. That's what's coming up next week. Thanks for watching Always On. There you go. -Really? -I'm all clocked up from Ace. Oh, she wants to do it. -Yeah. -Oh, [unk] until you're like [unk]. Please lay it over the box.