Samsung's Galaxy Note is a surprise hit, due in no small part to its gigantic high-def Super AMOLED screen. But the company has always been bullish on the included stylus, which they refer to as the "S-Pen", as a method of interaction and content creation. In an interview with Laptop Magazine, Samsung marketing manager Ryan Bidan indicated that they're exploring options for bringing the active stylus technology to larger screens, presumably future models in the Galaxy Tab family.
Do you see Samsung leveraging pen input on larger screen sizes as well? Bidan: Yes, I think so. I think a pen interface continues to make a lot of sense across a number of screen sizes, like the larger is more obvious of those. That’s about as specific as I can be without announcing a product.
The mobile world is no stranger to pen-based input - prior to capacitive screens, almost all smartphones used a stylus of one kind or another. But the S-Pen is different: it combines an active connection with digitizer technology from Wacom to make a pressure-sensitive and extremely accurate entry tool, without sacrificing finger sensitivity. At the moment the s-Pen and its apps and SDK are exclusive to the Galaxy Note.
Other manufacturers have been experimenting with a return to pen-based inputs. HTC sells a separate active stylus for the Flyer tablet, and includes several apps that take advantage of it, though these aren't as fully integrated as the Galaxy Note. Motorola included a stylus with the DROID XYBOARD tablets for Motorola, and they're a welcome addition. Accessory makers have made various cheap capacitive styli available even before the current tablet boom.
Taking Mr. Bidan at his word, Samsung might not be thinking of tablets specifically - S-Pen functionality in combination with their line of Smart TVs or forthcoming Google TV products would make for an impressive (if expensive) presentation machine. But considering the time and money that Samsung has invested in pushing pen-based input on the Note, a trend that continues as the phone comes to AT&T in the US, some kind of stylus functionality for the next generation of Galaxy Tab seems likely.