Features & Use
Part of the reason why there has been so much hype surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Note is the fact that device offers users a very intuitive way to interact with the device. There is a clear shift among tablet and smartphone manufacturers to bring their devices as close as possible to the ease of writing with a pen and paper.
Classic Notes + App Box takes note-taking to a different level, while allowing you to keep your old stylus-less Android device.
On the surface, Classic Notes looks like a regular notepad app, but it actually comes with enough features and options to make your head explode. It's like Evernote, Notepad, Dropbox, Google Translate and many other apps – all rolled into one behemoth of an app.
It all starts simple enough. The main screen is composed of your notes and a small button in the corner to create a new note.
On the most basic level, the app allows you to create three types of notes:
- Regular notes on a notepad
- To-do lists
Here you can type up regular notes, comments or journal entries onto a college-sized block of paper. Every new entry comes with an automatic timestamp (can be turned off in the settings). The layout is basically a carbon copy of the iPhone Notes app, but pressing the menu button while composing a note reveals a wealth of useful options. In fact, there are so many options available that it would quite literally take pages to list them. Just to mention a few briefly: you can add photos/videos/audio files, create reminders, add notes to calendar, upload to Google Docs/Dropbox and add a shortcut to the homescreen.
Whether it's sharing, exporting, importing, editing or translating – you're guaranteed to find a dedicated option for it. It's impressive, mind-boggling and seriously overwhelming. You've got all of the major word processing options and all of the sharing options of apps such as Evernote & Co.
This wouldn't be a note app if it didn't come with a task organizer. Just like any other to-do list, you can add tasks and scratch them off your list on the go. Simply enter in any task at the bottom of the screen and tap the + button. All of the tasks in your list can be sorted based on just about every criteria: alphabetically, status or time. As is the case with the regular notes, you can export, share and prioritize your to-do list any way you like.
Let your artistic spirit run wild! Starting out with a blank white screen, you can doodle with your finger in a very basic version of a Paint lookalike. Select the menu button to adjust the following:
- Color: Pick from thousands of colors on a color scale.
- Brush size: Adjust the thickness of the strokes with the help of an adjustable bar. The range goes from needle-thin to mega fat.
- Emboss: Changes the look of the brushtroke, adding shadows to the edges for a more outlined and three-dimensional look. Looks sort of like frosting on a cake.
- Blur: The name is a bit misleading because this is not the equivalent of the Photoshop blur tool. It's just spray paint plain and simple.
- ScrATop: This option basically allows you to “etch” across already existing lines and add more color. Think of it as adding another layer to a cake.
- Erase: Get rid off certain sections of the picture with your finger, but remember that the brushstroke size determines the circumferences of the eraser. Areas to be erased are first misleadingly marked in black, but turn white when you let go of the screen.
Compared to the notes and to-do lists, the sketches section is admittedly a bit weak. Being able to doodle on your tablet/smartphone is a plus, but the feature isn't very well designed.
What distinguishes Classic Notes + App Box from the rest of its brethren is the Extras category that comes along with the app. Over 30 pieces of seemingly random “extra” information can be found here and then imported into your note. You can convert currencies, look up words in the dictionary, look up zipcodes, shorten URLs, translate texts, view the current forecast and whole slew of other things.
Looking through the seemingly infinite list of options, I couldn't help but think about the purpose behind this section. I mean, who seriously needs all of this information packed into one app. Not only is it overwhelming – it just seems like a big waste of energy and time. Who seriously needs to import the weather forecast into a note when there is a special weather widget for that? Why import an entire Wikipedia article when you can read the entry through a dedicated app?
The reality is that Classic Notes is trying to be a scrapbook where people can add anything they like from short translations to summaries of their favorite movies. Now that may sound good in theory, but most people will just use their IMDb, Twitter, weather and dictionary apps to get that information. And the worst part is that the user isn't informed about where this information is coming from.
Classic Notes is a wonderful note-taking that reminds me of ColorNote Notepad – one of the first apps I ever downloaded onto my first G1. It definitely doesn't lack any options. In fact, it suffers from having too many. This app is shooting itself in the foot by covering too much ground in one app. It would make more sense to concentrate on having a great note-taking app, instead of adding an endless amount of seemingly unnecessary extras.
Screen & Controls
The layout of Classic Notes + App Box is pretty simple and straight-forward, but I did not like the way most of the options were hidden in the menu button. It is much better to have all of the tools available directly on the screen in the form of tabs. Same thing goes for the sketch screen: all of the options are accessible via the menu button.
All of the superfluous and unnecessary extra features that come with the app are listed in an endless stream that is difficult to manage.
As far as the graphics are concerned, they look alright, but the main screen is very boring, constituting nothing more than a boring list of tasks. Other apps such as Evernote and ColorNote do a much better job of presenting your notes in a way that is pleasant to the eye.
Also, it would be nice to be able to choose between more than just the two fonts included with the app.
Speed & Stability
Great score on all fronts here. One thing is for sure: this app is extremely reliable, sturdy and bug-free. So there is no need to worry about the app crashing or losing all of your information. Speaking of data, Classic Notes + App Box comes with a backup feature that saves all your notes to SD card for safekeeping.
At $1.99 Classic Notes + App Box isn't exactly a bargain, especially when you consider the fact that it doesn't come with a complementary remote client for accessing your notes from your computer. Despite having a whole ton of features, the extras aren't really worth the extra couple bucks.