Mobility is a huge buzzword in field service these days. Smartphones and tablet computers, armed with cloud-based applications, have become must-haves in most workers’ toolboxes, allowing them to connect from just about anywhere in the field.

And while it’s a tricky word, it’s about the only one we can accurately ascribe to Samsung’s newest device, the Galaxy Note — after all, it’s not quite a smartphone, not quite a tablet. Let’s just call it a “mobility” tool.

Basically, the Galaxy Note is either a huge smartphone (the screen is way bigger than most of the phones on the market), or it’s a miniature tablet. Plus, it comes with a stylus (remember those?), which Samsung calls “S Pen” (for smart pen), allowing technicians to take handwritten notes or sketch drawings. The device also includes handwriting detection software, although so far the results are anything but perfect.

CNET editors Jessica Dolcourt and Brian Bennett point out in their review that the device’s larger screen and stylus will be attractive to many business users who are finding fewer reasons to lug a laptop around every day. Mobile Enterprise writes that the Galaxy Note’s stylus and ability to write directly on the device will resonate particularly with service firms and mobile workforces.

“Businesses such as field inspection companies, and the mobile vendors that cater to these areas of field service, already know the value of digital pens and the ability to capture hand written notes, diagrams and ad hoc sketches in the field. If the idea of an active pen catches on with the workforce (through BYOD) we can expect enterprises to begin thinking about how digital pens and tablets can work together to increase workforce productivity.”

Here are a few specs from Samsung’s website:

  • 5.3’’ color, multitouch display that works with a stylus (for comparison, the iPad features a 9.7’’ screen and the iPhone comes with a 3.5’’ screen)
  • 8-megapixel rear camera; 2-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system (won’t feature the newest Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich — no joke.)
  • 1080P HD video
  • 16GB memory
  • Exclusively available via AT&T (requires a data plan; no WiFi-only model available)

The Galaxy Note’s large screen is both a blessing and a curse for Samsung as it challenges Apple’s iPad in the tablet business market. For some, the Galaxy Note’s large screen might just be too big as the device won’t easily fit into a technician’s pocket. And then there’s the problem of the larger screen size not being quite big enough, as PCWorld’s Melissa J Perenson notes in her review.

It’ll be interesting to see if service firms find the larger screen and stylus compelling enough reasons to purchase the Galaxy Note as a compromise between the smaller form-factor of a smartphone and larger tablets. Smartphone or tablet or some ambiguous hybrid of the two: regardless of how you classify it, the Galaxy Note (and stylus) is an interesting wrinkle in the mobile device market and a potentially powerful addition to service firms’ mobile device toolboxes.