Saturday, 29 May 2010

Samsung's new Wave

The Samsung wave is the first phone we've seen from them with their new "Bada" operating system. First impressions are that whilst the handset is responsive and tactile, quick and efficient (Boot up time is very quick) on the surface, it seems to be another Jet/Tocco incarnation. Not that thats a bad thing as both the tocco and jet are both fine phones, in their sector. The screen looks fantastic, clear colours and crisp sharpness, but the fisher price clicking and plopping noises when skipping from screen to screen and menu to menu are the first things any 'savvy' user will disable. Which is easy enough. Like the Tocco and Jet, the UI only appears to have THREE initial customisable home screens (more about this in a mo'). Widgets can be added to these, but (conveniently) the handset warns you that installation of these widgets may incur data charges from your network. With Data not being an automatically enabled feature on all tariff's this is a thoughtful added step for the less aware customers. The handset design is nice, although the main menu button is a smidge too raised for my liking; it's like a wee jewel on the front of the handset. Convincing the handset to turn on again involves hitting the lock key on the side. Any other button press and the handset stays black, much like the HTC Android phones, which require the power button on top to be pushed. Trying to launch the web browser, or the app store highlights the handsets first shortcoming. Unlike Android handsets, the phone doesn't automatically configure itself when a new sim is inserted. A few pokes around the menu's and I've inadvertently clicked the right thing, as the phone now knows I want to internet!
Disappointingly I'm led to Samsungs woeful WAP homepage (the world wants google and the real internet, why don't manufacturers recognise this?) From here, I find it nigh on impossible to input a real website. There is no menu option, I can drag a small portion of the screen down from the top, pressing the menu jewel takes me back to the main menu. This isn't the real internet, I feel robbed. Then I suss it. Tap he screen anywhere and click the up arrow. Then the menu bar appears. My lack of imagination leads me to enter and the dreaded G for GPRS rears its ugly head. Time to boot up wifi. I'm getting used to this OS now and with a few logical key clicks, I throw Wifi on and head back to the browser. I have the comfort of a wifi radar signal and the web is working. Albeit small. To my amazement, Pinch'n'zoom work wonderfully. As does the now intuitive tap to zoom. Dragging the screen around is less fluid though and more than once I accidentally click a link I didn't mean to open. Entering is spurned as the phone concentrates on my previous link click. So I'm churned back to reasons why Apple hate Flash. Auto rotate works fine so overall, Web browser; 8/10. Not bad at all. clicking through to iplayer, shows its fully compatible.... natively. Pic quality is 3gp but not too bad. Time to visit the Samsung App store Cannily titled "Samsung Apps". First impressions are good. Easy to navigate, simple to filter free from paid. The problem is, some of the Apps seem quite expensive, and the Samsung App store will never take off like the Apple one, or the Android one, so you'll be buying on hope. Not on friends recommendations. 
Moving on. I quickly get used to the unlock method and like the 'slide screen' approach to doing it. I find a BBC iPlayer widget for the homescreen thats available out of the box, but then I find its merely a link to the website, not an app at all! 
I find a feeds update, WHICH when I launch it, creates a FOURTH homescreen (it does have more than three, but they're automatically added when you run out of space. Cool. I trigger the friends feed, which integrates with the obligatory facebook. I discover pressing the .com button brings up other .net, .org, options. Which is neat. I'm given the option to sync my facebook contacts and calendar(?) with my address book (not the first time I've seen this; will facebook contacts soon become the accepted norm for contact details?) I add a BBC news widget (which adds a FIFTH homescreen). 
Clicking the widget button opens up the widget tray at the bottom of the homescreen, here you can drag widgets onto and away from the homescreen. It works just like the widgets on the Mac and is very user friendly. 
A quick play with the Camera shows its highly capable as a point n shoot replacement. A quick shot of a fellow colleague from 1.5 metres was enough to show me (with pinch'n'zoom) that he'd shaved this morning. 
I have to confess after a very, very short time with this handset, I am really beginning to warm to it. I really didn't want to like yet ANOTHER OS. But first impressions of Bada as an OS in its own right are fine. I would easily recommend this to friends and family. 
But, I've saved the best 'til last. This little phone has a party trick. It will record video in FULL 1280x720 and it ain't half bad. A couple of test videos inside and out show this is a highly competent 5MP camera and a truly wonderful Video Camera. 2 ten second videos ate up over 50mb of memory, so a HUGE memory card is essential. 16Gb should be a minimum. playback on the phone is tremendous, playback on a 15" screen looks superb too. Considering this phone is currently available on £20 a month deals, I think Samsung should have a winner on their hands. I don't really see what else they can do. This is a wonderful little phone. 

PS. One slight problem.... Hard reset seems impossible! Memory reset and phone reset seem to do Nada!
PPS. While trying to hard reset the device, we've discovered that pressing the screen lock and menu button captures a screen shot. A'lå iPhone. 

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