Samsung added to its holiday lineup of phones and tablets Wednesday, including a refreshed version of the Galaxy Note "phablet."
That's a cross between a phone and a tablet, in case you hadn't guessed.
Really, it's more an extra-large phone that comes with a stylus, and was one of the stars of Samsung's launch at the IFA show in Berlin.
Samsung gave the U.S. audience a good look at the original Galaxy Note at the beginning of the year at the Consumer Electronics show, where it showed off the Note's unusually large 5.3-inch screen, which gives it quite a bit of girth for a phone. Consumers, apparently, have been undeterred — earlier this month Samsung announced that it's sold 10 million Galaxy Notes in the 10 months it's been on the market.
That might come as a surprise to tech cynics, who saw Dell flop with its 5-inch Streak phablet a couple of years back. Samsung seems to have improved on the concept by making the Note slimmer and more attractive while also improving the stylus. (Sketching with the Note stylus is a joy.)
The Galaxy Note 2 seeks to build on that. The screen is slightly longer at 5.5 inches, giving it a 16:9 aspect ratio vs. 16:10 in the original.
The Note 2 comes with the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean), and the improved stylus technology Samsung introduced two weeks ago with the Galaxy Note 10.1. (That's the full tablet version.) No word yet on when the Note 2 might ship in the U.S.
But that's not all the new gear Samsung had to offer. The company also took the wraps off of the ATIV S, its first handset designed for Windows Phone 8 — it's a close cousin of the Android-powered Galaxy S III, with a 4.8-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera. Samsung also showed off the ATIV Tab, a 10.1-inch Windows RT tablet.
What's the impact here? Well, let's just say it's going to be a crowded field this holiday season.
The Galaxy Note will join the S III in Samsung's formidable Android phone lineup; the S III will probably do best sales-wise. The ATIV S will have to compete with Nokia's new Lumia phones, which we'll see at a New York launch next Wednesday. Of course, they'll all have to contend with the new iPhone, which we expect to see in just two weeks. (Read More: Samsung Unveils New 'Phablet': Threat to Expected iPad Mini? )
And the Windows tablet? It will compete not only against a slew of other Windows tablets, but also against Google's $199 Nexus 7, Amazon's revamped Kindle Fire (which we also expect to see next week), and a possible smaller (and cheaper) iPad/iPod hybrid from Apple .