Sunday, 13 June 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Samsung Galaxy S hands on preview

Posted: 12 Jun 2010 03:00 AM PDT

The Samsung Galaxy S is the latest Android phone to feature a screen big enough to be dubbed a miniature cinema, but is it on par with the HTC Desire and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10? We grabbed a pre-production model to find out – check out how it’s shaping up in our hands on preview right here.

The Samsung Galaxy S’s star feature is a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen. It’s big, it’s bright and it’s dying to play the full extended edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back but does it suffer from the usual AMOLED foibles – garish colours and poor outdoors performance?

We’re glad to say that the Samsung Galaxy S’s colour reproduction is unusually restrained for an AMOLED screen. We watched all sorts of content on it, from TV episodes to movie clips and flash-style animations, and they all looked great. Four inches is big enough to watch a full-length movie without straining your eyes too much as well.

Outdoors performance wasn’t faultless – in the bright sun, reflections were significant, but unlike older AMOLED screens, you don’t have to crank brightness up to the max to make the screen visible. Screen reflection is slightly more noticeable than with an TFT LCD screen, but the two are no longer worlds apart.

The Samsung Galaxy S matches its stellar display with media playback skills that blow other Android phones out of the water. It plays the usual H.263, H.264 and WMV files, but can also handle Xvid, Divx and MKV container vids too. It might not play absolutely everything you find clinging to the internet’s drain, but it played everything we threw at it, and well too. 720p HD Divx files play at full speed, showing off the 1GHz processor’s sheer muscle.

DLNA support through the built-in AllShare app lets you easily stream video to compatible devices, including the PS3. The Samsung Galaxy S is quite simply the best Android phone media player we’ve seen. Looking for a phone that’ll let you ditch that old Archos media player? This is it.

Some other elements of the Samsung Galaxy S aren’t quite as remarkable. It runs Android 2.1, with Samsung’s TouchWiz (Yes, TouchWiz, again) interface sitting on top. If you’re looking for an Android to get away from becoming an identikit iPhone user, you might not fall in love with it. Samsung’s skin melds aspects of the standard Android UI with a key element of the iPhone OS – namely a static icon dock that looks just like the iPhone’s. This dock isn’t customisable but it does contain essential links – Phone, Contacts, Messaging and Applications.

You can’t revert from it to vanilla Android either, but it doesn’t feature anything to get incensed over, unless your iPhone hatred extends beyond the norm. The rest of the skin consists of entirely optional widgets. Aside from Daily Briefing, which pulls-in updates from Accuweather, Yahoo Finance and Ap Mobile in a full-screen feed, the widgets are standard fare, with slight business-y leanings, such as clocks and a daily memo/calendar.

They left us hankering for the HTC Desire’s excellent HTC Sense widgets, but they’re very useful if you want to meld your mobile with your work life. The neat gesture-based Swype keyboard is included on the Samsung Galaxy S too, but you can revert to the standard keyboard if you fancy traditional tap typing.

In use, what comes to define the Samsung Galaxy S’s interface is the snappy responsiveness of the phone’s touchscreen rather than the relatively minor adjustments made to vanilla Android. It’s at least on-par with the HTC Desire’s great touch panel, although some transitions between menus seemed ever-so slightly slower than HTC’s big, beautiful Android.

The Samsung Galaxy S does things both better and worse than its main rivals, but the one key letdown that we can’t quite forgive is the phone’s plasticy build. At 9.9mm, the Galaxy S is ridiculously slim, and is a good 20g lighter than 3.7-inch Androids like the HTC Desire and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. We’re all for slim and light smartphones, but not when the handset ends up feeling cheaper than it deserves.

The Samsung Galaxy S has the spec list to go toe-to-toe with any smartphone on the market, but its all-plastic body casing doesn’t give the phone a complementing quality feel. Its ergonomics are good enough to make it comfortably snug in your grip, but its frame doesn’t suit a phone of this status and quality.

Another puzzling omission is the lack of a flash. We say puzzling becuase its camera and video capture skills are otherwise impressive. You have manual control over the ISO setting, a macro mode and the ability to record 720p HD video, along with the very versatile video autofocus option. And yet it’s cut off at the knees thanks to the lack of a flash.

This is the recurring tale that we found a few times in the Samsung Galaxy. Overall, it’s great, which makes the occasional jarring stumbles all the more irritating. It has much more memory than the HTC Desire and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, and battery life is good for an Android with a screen this size. With Wi-Fi and 3G enabled, you should be able to go a couple of days without a charge. Factor-in movie watching and you can cut that life down significantly though. That drop-dead gorgeous screen comes with a cost.

The upcoming iPhone 4 trumps the Samsung Galaxy S in screen resolution terms, but would be recommend it for video viewing? If you’re an iTunes fan, then yes. But if you like to go your own way, and have a video collection of your own, we can’t think of a better smartphone choice for watching vids than the Samsung Galaxy S.

Related posts:

  1. Samsung Wave hands on preview
  2. Samsung Galaxy Portal: hands-on photos!
  3. Samsung Galaxy S: Everything you need to know!

No comments:

Post a Comment