Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Nutmeg Lawyer Reviews the Samsung Galaxy Tab

Thou Shalt Not Use Flash
Lawyer Tech
For many Americans, the Apple iPad has been the tablet of choice since being brought down from the lofty perches of Mount Sinai by Charlton Heston.  As fantastic as it appeared to be, the iPad was just a bit too large for me.  I wanted something a little more business friendly.  Something that was larger than a smart phone but more convenient to carry than a laptop.  Something I could use to edit documents, check my court schedule and look up statutes.  Frankly, I didn't want to be carrying around five of the ten commandments on a large plastic slab.  I wanted something small enough that I could slip into my suit pocket or a briefcase.  As such, I decided to check out Samsung's addition to the tablet wars: the Samsung Galaxy Tab.  

The Galaxy Tab (pictured left) is much smaller than the iPad
My first impression of the Galaxy Tab was basically that it looks like a giant smartphone.  Although the seven inch screen is smaller than the i Pad, I found the size perfectly suited my needs. Slightly larger than a paperback, after using the tablet for a few days my smartphone felt minuscule. Plus, I've seen attorneys with iPads in court.  Did you ever see someone try to take a picture with an iPad? It looks like you're taking a photo with  a dinner tray.  The Galaxy is just a little less conspicuous.  If you put it in a leather portfolio, it looks like any standard planner.

The 1024 x 600 resolution LCD screen provides a sharp crisp picture. I had no qualms watching movies on the device.  At .84 lbs, the Galaxy also weighed less than the bulkier 1.5 pound i Pad.  The phone runs Samsung’s TouchWiz 3.0 interface which gives it an iPhone feel. The screen was very responsive to the touch. Although the Galaxy is limited to 16 Gb And 32 Gb models, you can easily add an additional 32 Gb of storage through an SD card.  Considering you can swap out the card, you can virtually have endless storage. At 512 Mb of RAM, it has twice as much as an iPad.  With access to the Android marketplace, there are plenty of apps that you can download to customize this product for your needs. Using a sync application, I was even able to download my i Tunes music.  Using the Kindle Application, it was light enough to kick back on the couch and comfortably read a novel.   

Of course, I wanted to see if this new toy would be a useful tool that I could incorporate into my daily law practice or would it be just another gadget to play "Angry Birds".  With that in mind,  I took the Galaxy for a test run at my local courthouse.  I classed it up with a protective leather portfolio cover that doubled as a stand. With the cover closed, it looked like a standard planner. My first stop was criminal court for an arraignment.  

Arriving early, I took my seat in the peanut gallery with some other lawyers.  An ancient practitioner sitting next to me was reading a paper version of the New York Times.  I took out my tablet and began reading a digital version of a law office management book. "What the hell is that?"  He asked.  Like a first grader at show and tell, I began demonstrating my new toy to the lawyers around me. Using the GPS feature, I spoke the attorney's address into the tablet.  The application showed me directions to his house and provided a 360 degree photo tour of his street.  We could see the attorney's wife raking leaves in the front yard.  "You make your wife do yard work?" I asked.  I then demonstrated dictating a letter into a word document. The judge came out, so I put down my new toy.       

Appearing before the judge, I was asked if I was available on a particular date.  I checked my calendar on the Galaxy which was synced with Clio (online practice management program) and Google calendar. I quickly flipped through my calendar with my finger and "pinched open" the correct page. "March 15th would be fine your honor." Walking out of the courtroom, my client seemed more interested in the tablet than the jail time he was facing. 

I accompanied my client into an empty conference room to discuss his case.  I wanted him to understand some basics including the minimum and maximum penalties he would be facing if convicted. "Let me show you".  I opened an easy to read table of penalties and fines I had downloaded on my tablet. "As you can see, a Class C felony can get you between 1 to 10 years and up to a $10,000 fine," I asked him if he had ever been convicted before. "I'm not sure." Using the tablet's browser, I checked his conviction history on the judicial website.  He had been convicted ten years earlier.  Seeing his options laid out for him, the client had a better grasp of his options.  "Wow, your firm is really on top of things.  Do all of your firm's lawyers get one of those?"  No, just the cool ones.

With some time to kill before my afternoon real estate closing, I downloaded the TimeClock Android app.  Simple and straightforward to use, the application makes it easy to track my billable hours.  The application can then transfer the data into a spreadsheet.  I can set my hourly rate differently for multiple clients and the application will calculate my earnings.  I entered my client's info and emailed the spreadsheet to my desktop.  It even has a feature to include lunch breaks or interruptions. 

The more I learned to use the device, the more I began to love it.  I found myself accomplishing a large amount of work.   For example, a lawyer in Poland needed a copy of a Connecticut divorce decree we had prepared.  After obtaining a copy from the court clerk, I was able to scan the document using the Tablet's built in camera and an application recommended to me by Attorney Ryan McKeen over at a Connecticut Law Blog.  The Galaxy has a front and back camera that allows it to be used as a scanner. (You can take pictures, record video and make video calls). The application converted the document into a PDF file that I emailed directly to the Polish attorney. Using Skype, I then called his Gdansk office to let him know the document was in his inbox.  

In court, I received a call from my real estate paralegal.  "Attorney Baron, did the wire go through on the Bill Gates purchase."  I logged into my bank to verify the funds were received.  She e-mailed me a copy of the HUD for me to review.  Using the Tablets Office Suite Pro app, I was able to view and edit Microsoft Word and Excel files.  It also allowed me to view PDF files.

After using this product for a few weeks, I can honestly say it has boosted my productivity. The size of this device is ideal for slipping into your suit pocket or purse.  (No, I do not carry a purse.  It's a satchel much like the one Indiana Jones carries.)  For the busy practitioner, it can be a wonderful tool.  To quote Ferris Beuller, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."


  • Carrier: Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and others
  • Operating System: Android 2.2 " Froyo"
  • Processor: 1.0GHz Samsung Hummingbird Cortex A8 with PowerVR SGX540
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Storage: 2GB, 16GB, or 32GB + MicroSD slot (up to 32GB)
  • Display: 7-inch WSVGA TFT, 169ppi, 1024×600 resolution
  • Battery: 4000mAh
  • Ports: Headphone jack, MicroSD
  • Weight: 13.6 ounces (385g)
  • Dimensions: 7.48(h) x 4.74(w) x 0.47(d) inches
  • Camera: 3.0MP with autofocus and LED flash; 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, A-GPS, geomagnetic, luminance, gyro
  • Keyboard: On-screen keyboard; Swype
  • Networks: CDMA 800/1900Mhz, EVDO Rev.A; or GSM (HSUPA 5.76Mbps/HSDPA 7.2Mbps at 800/1900/2100MHz; GSM/EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1900/1900MHz)
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n); Bluetooth 3.0, DLNA
  • Tethering: USB and mobile hotspot


Chuck said...

I own the Galaxy Tab and can't live with out it. Nice review on some practical applications.

Anonymous said...

I want one.

Anonymous said...

Have you read about all the viruses in the droid apps?

Adrian M. Baron said...

Mr. Jobs, I told you to stop posting here.

Anonymous said...

As a non techie, I appreciate the way you wrote your post. Practical applications to real law practice. Keep up the great work.

PS love the words of wisdom page.

cyprus ibc said...

The lawyer will advise the buyer legally and not on technical issues such as the value of the property or the kind of the property he will buy

Joshua Smith said...

Thank you for useful tips. It was simple to read, but I'd like to add that if your business needs to be updated try software development services.