Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
Today, large companies, especially corporate giants like Samsung, do not surprise users with extraordinary products...
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Samsung – more models and impressions
While in the first article on Samsung’s presence at 3GSM Congress we covered models constituting the backbone of the range, today we would like to put into the limelight products that were kept off-screen, share our impressions of the revamped software in all introduced handsets and also pay more attention to some particular aspects.
Samsung F700. Vast majority of the exhibition’s attendees could only have a glimpse of this device under the glass, and a mere handful of people were permitted to play around with the F700. Regrettably, most snaps aren’t as good as we wished them to be, but I would like to share my hands-on experience with all of you. In terms of dimensions the model is convenient and finely fits in palm. The face holds a sole button that brings the phone to life, the side-mounted slider locks the screen. The display is truly brilliant, even though one notices that only when viewing snaps, navigating through particular menus; the maker has armed the F700 with black interface color scheme.
Stylus is missing in the F700, since all you have got to do is push the display with fingertips and get feedback, thanks to VibeTonz technology, making the phone vibrate, so that you know exactly where you pressed. Among aspects we found awkward, Drag&Drop, when you sweep your fingers over the display to drag certain menu items on the display, should be mentioned – the way it is done right now is somewhat painful. But we should allow for the state of this prototype – until is official release scheduled for this fall, much things will have changed and fixed.
Now, one of the foremost delusions fostered by your humble servant, that the company’s representatives spoke about earlier. For the time being there is no way to shift to default Windows Mobile interface, as the maker deems it superfluous and wants to see the device in the way he created it. Also at present it is not allowed to install any third-party applications (this doesn’t concern Java). In the end it seems to be a sort of a Samsung-branded iPhone, at least its very concept is much resembling. I will reserve my judgment on how this approach will work out, but due to these restrictions the device does lose some of its attractiveness.
Overall, the conclusion I have drawn is plain: an appealing toy, packing a punch, brilliant display and offbeat approach. It won’t get rid of iPhone’s rival status, but there is nothing bad about that.
Windows Mobile and Samsung. Samsung has finally made up its mind on what will be the main focus in promotion of Window Mobile-powered smartphones. I should also note here that this way has some real eastern insidiousness to it. In order to look different compared to other Asian companies, which come up with half-dead WM-based products, over at Samsung they will be aiming to revamp own solutions as much as possible interface-wise, so that nobody would guess that WM is inside. An interesting and justified approach it is.
Premium-segment. One could also have a glimpse through the glass of a handful of fold phones with black wood casing, platinum plate and 4 brilliants. For the European market the manufacturer introduced the SGH-F910 (the D830’s counterpart in the sense of design and, seemingly, functionality as well). The price starts at the level of 2000 Euro, when and whether it is hitting the market – no word on this yet.
It is remarkable that over at the company they have been persistently developing a Nokia 8800-killer, whose sketches were shown on the spot to a Spanish buyer. Looking at them one can conclude that it is a fashion model with similar spring-loaded slide mechanism, but more punch inside. The only question remains: what the casing is made of? If it is metal, then Nokia will have to make room for a new market’s favorite, and if it is plastic, then Samsung’s offering won’t stir up enthusiasm among consumers.
Everyone knows the joint project between Bang&Olufsen and Samsung; the next designer’s handset is made not as a premium-solution, but a mid-range offering – the E590. Jasper Morrison, a European designer, came up with design for this solution, which sports rubberized finishing, same keys, 3 Mpix auto-focus enabled camera. The phone is positioned as a kind of photo-centric solution with “light” version of UI. While I had this phone in hands, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that its design had been inspired by Sony Ericsson K750i.
Reflective coating, metal and all
In the fashion market the company sticks to the strategy of offering not only run-of-the-mill handsets, but also their variations showing off reflective coating, metal insets etc. Indeed, this doesn’t require enormous funds for production, yet many look at such editions as something completely new.
Take the E840 as an example, which comes in “so- feminine” pink as well.
It is remarkable that the E830 is found in women-tailored offerings – it is a pocketable bulky barrel-shaped slider. It is unusual, no doubt about that, though the black color doesn’t give you an idea of what this device actually is. More flashy colors will be much more preferable for this handset and thus beloved among its buyers.
The company also made a comeback to glass-metal models - Samsung Z630, Samsung D840.
Software highlights of the new generation
Software of handsets got massively updated, which is another step on the way to better functionality. Let us take a look at the major improvements and see what they are all about.
Phonebook. The general list now holds reserved space for caller ID, while previously you could access it only by going into detailed view. Now everything is this simple – you highlight an entry and see assigned icon (if any).
Typing in e-mail address has also gotten easier thanks to a simple and elegant idea. What symbol we always use there? Exactly, “@”. So what is the point in wasting time on entering it over and over again – this is why each address is divided into two sections: before and after “@”. A perfect solution and I really am at loss trying to figure out why nobody else thought of it earlier.
Profiles. All phones house full-fledged profiles system, at that settings menu for them features tabbed interface, meaning that the first tab stands for calls, the second one – for messages (tune can be changed according to the profile!!!), and the last – for tones that have something to do with the device itself.
Music player. Now you have filtering by genre, artists and so on at your disposal – the solution applied here is closing in on what we experience with Walkman-branded phones representing current generation. In other words, Samsung’s player packs support for Album Arts, visual effects, ratings and full-fledged PC synchronization (Windows Media). The player can be minimized, yet track title will be missing on the display if you do that. Personally, I liked this one – it looks good and copes with its duties pretty well.
Image Stamp. An application allowing you to create merged pictures, when one gets laid over another – an add-on to the graphics editor.
Mega Search. A wonderful utility enabling search though all text and numeric fields in the phone, meaning that if you are looking for a specific track and even happen to know its title – this is where you should call at first. Similar utilities are provided by Nokia for its smartphones, however ordinary phones haven’t seen any counterparts of this yet. A rough analogue is Motorola’s Media Finder, but this utility searches only multimedia content.
Sunlight Mode. Another original solution – display mode for operation in the sun. While the color scheme remains unchanged, the screen brightness and gamma get adjusted in a way to keep information readable in sunlight. We couldn’t run the technology through its paces just yet, though we are planning to do that soon enough. All latest and greatest handsets of the company come equipped with this Mode.
Setup wizard. On start-up the handset offers you to set up key parameters – this wizard is akin to that featured by Sony Ericsson and Nokia. On the plus side, it has striking design, simplicity and is a breeze to go though.
Yahoo! For a number of countries the handsets will come included with pre-installed settings for using Yahoo! Mail, as well as utilities for instant messaging and search.
Five years ago Samsung was of academic, rather some practical interest – people called at its booths only to get a glimpse of “strange-looking” things, which is now the fate of the Japanese companies. Little by little Samsung-branded devices have been gaining weight in terms of functions, getting more sophisticated, and today the company is in line with market’s best vendors, puts up interesting and unique solutions. To me, the solutions showcased at 3GSM are indeed fetching and will be in demand on the market. Lagging behind other maker in the sense of functions integration and software, Samsung is eliminating this gad at an admirable pace. I am really thrilled to see what functions will be offered by the company next year.
Published 15 February 2007
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