Samsung Captivate Review

Interface:

Not everyone might be a fan of the Captivate's customized Android experience, but one thing is certain, its 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor makes things fly with very few instances of choppiness. Even though navigating and opening applications poses no problem with its peppy processor, we did encounter some jerkiness when moving about the home screens while using an animated wallpaper. Nevertheless, we were satisfied by the overall performance of the Samsung Captivate.

In its current state, you're treated to the TouchWiz 3.0 overlay of Android 2.1 as it boasts up to seven home screens to fill up with either some stock Android widgets or the ones specifically crafted by Samsung. Throughout the process of moving in between home screens, there are four icons docked on the lower portion as they are labeled phone, email, browser, and applications. Pressing the latter will get you into the main menu where it's laid out in traditional TouchWiz fashion as the icons are square shaped and equally distant from one another. Overall, there is nothing really much to say about the custom interface as it's the same exact one in use on the Samsung Galaxy S I9000.


The selection of widgets that can be added to the home screens is similar to the one in the Samsung Wave. Samsung's widgets are for the most part helpful, though repetitive. The company decided to show us there are many ways to skin a cat - if you want to be always in touch with the weather (AccuWeather clock), the stock market (Y! Finance clock), another timezone (Dual clock), or your busy schedule (the Calendar clock). There's absolutely nothing wrong with them as they provide for additional enhancements to make the look and feel of the phone somewhat more varying between handset owners – which is of course the beauty of Android as a whole.


Those can actually be combined into one widget called the Daily Briefing, which populates the current weather, stock quotes, AP breaking news, and your calendar events, on one home screen. Another fairly useful widget is Feeds and Updates - it satiates your thirst for social interaction on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace right from a home screen.

Organizer & Messaging:

Of the other customizations Samsung has made to the default Android interface, the most notable are in the Phonebook and Calendar. Entering the Phone screen defaults to your call log tab. There are also keypad, favorites, and contacts tabs to choose from at the top. Tap Contacts, and you are taken to the respective screen, where the history of your communication activities can be accessed with tabs at the top as well - including all calls and messages exchange, as well as social network updates.

The phonebook groups your phone, SIM and Google contacts in one searchable list. Samsung's own Social Hub idea adds the contacts from your social networks, and the corporate buddies to the mix for one very long phonebook. A variety of contacts' details is visible and editable on the huge screen at once.


To tell you the truth, other aspects on the Captivate also come directly from the Samsung Galaxy S I9000. Social Hub, for example, aggregates SNS (Social Network Services), email, and IM accounts. Additionally, the Calendar and Clock applications let you sync various events from things like Facebook and Exchange Server all into your Calendar while the various  clock functions (alarm, world, stopwatch, and timer) are intact as well.



Proving itself to be well endowed with a large real estate, sending messaging via the Captivate's various on-screen keyboards and handwriting recognition options won't be any letdown for most people. By default, you'll be presented with the Samsung keyboard, but you can change it at any time and revert to using the stock Android keyboard if you're more comfortable with it. Thanks to the peppy performance of the platform, we found typing on both the portrait and landscape options quite manageable – the latter of which provided the best results though. In addition, the Swype keyboard is also available for those who've been able to master the swiping movements. Although there are some handwriting recognition selections, we still relied heavily on the on-screen keyboards.


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