- Landscape viewing for video, up to 7.2Mbps HSDPA network speeds, Foxtel Mobile TV with 33 channels and EPG, Foxtel iQ recording feature
- Cramped controls and small QWERTY keypad, battery life, bland design
Optimised for mobile TV, the Samsung Widescreen is a solid, if not outstanding, introduction to what the future holds for mobile video content.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
Designed for mobile TV and exclusively operating on Telstra's Next G network in Australia, the Samsung Widescreen features a unique dual-flip form factor, combining a regular flip handset with the option of folding open to a landscape layout. The Widescreen also boasts a full QWERTY keyboard, 2.3in display, HSDPA connection speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and a 2-megapixel camera.
The Widescreen employs a similar design to Nokia's N93i. It can be used in a regular flip mode for all phone functions, but also flips open sideways for landscape mode, making it ideal for watching video. The design means the Widescreen can sit on a desk with the angle of the display adjusted for the best possible view. Unfortunately, it isn't the most attractive device.
The key selling point of the Widescreen is a combination of its dual-flip design, and access to Telstra's Next G content portal -- in particular the Mobile Foxtel service. Content includes a range of mobile TV on 33 channels in categories such as entertainment, sports, news and documentaries, kids, music and many more, each available as a day pass, or via a monthly, packaged subscription. Also available is a Foxtel TV guide -- in addition to accessing the guide wherever you are, the Telstra service allows users of Foxtel iQ to log into the service on the handset and record programs to their set-top box at home via the EPG (Electronic Programming Guide). This is an excellent and handy feature if you forget to record your favourite TV shows, are out of the house, or are away travelling.
The Widescreen's 2.3in display is crisp and clear for regular phone use, but though the dual-flip design makes it convenient for watching video, the screen isn't as large as we anticipated. Despite this issue, the ability to channel surf is excellent, and EPG information is convenient. The mobile TV service isn't clear when in full screen mode though and for sports programs -- particularly on both EuroSport News and Fox Sports News -- it is difficult to see small objects like a soccer or tennis ball.
For regular phone use, the Widescreen is a solid performer -- the familiar Samsung grid and list menus remain and the five-way navigational pad is soft and comfortable. Unfortunately the handset suffers from an overload of buttons, so some users will originally be a little confused. Although the QWERTY keypad is handy for SMS and e-mailing, it's a little small and cramped so tactility isn't a strong point.
A 2-megapixel camera takes average photos but without a flash, night-time photography is out of the question. Multimedia is obviously high on the Widescreen's agenda, so a music player featuring repeat and shuffle play modes and playlist support is present -- though it's strange not to see any equaliser settings. The external display and illuminated, touch-sensitive music controls below it come in handy for music playback and though there is no 3.5mm headphone jack, an adapter is included in the box. A microSD card slot handles extra memory, but there is no card in the sales package.
Other features include video calling over the Next G network, dual stereo speakers, a document viewer, Java, Bluetooth with stereo A2DP and USB 2.0. Conveniently, standard SMS, MMS and e-mail messages can be composed using T9 predictive text input in regular flip mode, or the QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode.
Battery life isn't too flash, rated at up to three hours of talk time and 250 hours of standby time on a 3G network.
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