- DivX support, included DivX converter software, great multimedia display, case doubles as a back-up battery
- Design, implementation and cross-over between phone and multimedia functions, expensive, steep learning curve, no 3.5mm headphone jack, battery not removable
The F500 is a great example of a device that promises so much, yet ultimately fails to deliver. It's a nice idea, but in an already overpopulated mobile market, the F500 has too many flaws to make an impact.
Price$ 1,099.00 (AUD)
One of the first mobile phones to support the popular DivX codec, Samsung's F500 is a hybrid mobile phone and portable media player with an unconventional design. While the media player is quite useful, the F500 fails first and foremost as a mobile phone and is a frustratingly difficult device to pick up and use.
The F500 is without a doubt one of the weirdest designs we've ever come across. On one side is a rather squashed looking mobile phone with an extremely small display. Flip it around and you'll see a large 2.4in LCD and touch sensitive control pad, specifically for multimedia. If you aren't confused yet, then the bottom half of the F500 features a small hinge so the F500 can easily sit on a desk while watching video -- all in all, this is a very unique device.
Purely as a phone, the F500 falls well short of what we'd expect, especially in terms of design. The phone display is small and awkwardly cramped while the keypad and controls look and feel out of place. For avid SMS users, the size of the display means squinting to read messages will be an all-too common experience.
On the multimedia side, there is a lot to like about the F500. The 2.4in LCD is crystal clear and large enough to comfortably watch a short TV episode. Support for the popular DivX and XviD codec's means the F500 will definitely appeal to multimedia buffs. Videos we uploaded to the phone were bright and clear, while sound from the external speaker was respectable. The included DivX software can convert your video files and makes uploading them to the F500 simple and easy with a drag and drop process.
Unfortunately, the integration between the phone functions and the multimedia features is less than impressive. To change the wallpaper for example, you have to slide a small button on the side of the phone to switch displays, select the image, then slide the button again to switch back to the phone view. The process is stretched out and quite frustrating. Plus, the touch sensitive controls aren't well implemented and take a great degree of learning -- the F500's user guide is a valuable resource.
Specification wise, the F500 is a feature packed handset. In addition to supporting HSDPA network speeds, the unit also boasts a massive 350MB of internal memory, a microSD card slot (with a 1GB card included in the sales package), a 2-megapixel camera and A2DP stereo Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming. Strangely, the Bluetooth protocol is only 1.2 rather than the newer 2.0 version, so file transfer via Bluetooth is slower than usual. Continuing the multimedia theme, an included composite TV-out cable means you can connect the F500 to a television and view your photos and videos.
One particular annoyance -- more so than on a regular mobile phone -- is the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. On a device specifically built for video and audio playback, this is a disappointment. In addition, the F500's design means the Lithium Ion battery is not removable. We did like the included flip-case though, which doubles as a back-up battery when connected.
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