Samsung SGH-F500 Review0
It is obvious that this Korean product has not been intended to impress by its camera, so the role it plays is of secondary importance. It is a 2 megapixel one, placed on the phone part, where we are accustomed to seeing the second camera of the video-phones. Due to the specific design, you can rotate the keypad in case you consider taking pictures this way to be easier. Since an optimized interface from other Samsung phones has been used, there are plenty of options here as well: change of resolution (totaling 7 ones), photographing mode, white balance, effects, frames, and even ISO. By use of the same camera you can make video-conversations, but only through the phone section.
The performance of the camera is not quite impressive; the first time we were taking pictures the weather was cloudy and rainy (the sky, of course, was also darker), which resulted in a predominant red coloration in most places and lack of detail. Despite the sunny skies at our second attempt, the images were not much better than the previous ones: red was prevailing once again, though to a lesser degree, and we observed the same lack of detail. Situation is even worse indoors – little detail, no focus, and “noise” in the images, which grows with diminishing illumination.
The maximum resolution of the video camera is 320 x 240 pixels (plus two smaller ones) and its settings allow for a number of changes. One is capable of balancing the white, adjusting the duration of the video to be shot with the option of filling the entire available memory, effects, muting the sound, etc.
Samsung F500 is intended to be an adequate multimedia device and its enormous asset is the ability to directly reproduce DivX-compressed content. On F500 one can watch entire movies that have been downloaded straight from the computer without intervention whatsoever – you simply load and view.
The video player supports the following formats: MPEG-4, h.264, WMV, AVI and DivX. We tested it with dozens of files of various size and extensions, and it managed to perfectly play each and every one of them. The only exception were those, encoded by h.264; we put to the test files of different resolution, framerate, and bitrate, but not once were we able to play audio and video simultaneously. The multimedia section crashed on several occasions to the point of no response by any of the buttons, so our last resort was the reset key. What was interesting in this situation was the uninterrupted operation of the phone section, regardless of the other face’s blocking. Obviously, the DivX support has been most laid stress on; yet, it is not normal that a video-oriented phone should not support h.264 as well, even at low resolution and fps at that.
We also tried the uppermost resolution for viewing DivX encoded content and testing led us to the conclusion that F500 cannot manage higher resolutions. Watching videos of up to 640 x 480 did not pose a problem, but at 960 x 544 the player would not start, displaying the following message instead: „Unsupported content type”. This should not make one feel uneasy, though: high-resolution files are not yet as wide-spread as the rest, so encountering this problem is most unlikely.
Another issue to be subjected to testing was whether the player would cope with files, encoded with the XviD codec (the free competitor to DivX), which is also fairly popular. We were very glad and quite surprised as well at the fact that the Samsung managed to play files encoded by it, which is one more of its great assets.
One should bear in mind that the sound at watching video or listening to music is quite low – just enough if the environment is quiet. This can be explained by the fact that there is no other loudspeaker apart from the one of the phone, which has been designed to reproduce the sound at conversation rather than playing music. You would better use the headphones – besides providing better audio quality, this will not disturb by-standers.
We can testify that that the player was adequate in fulfilling its task as it was supposed to, therefore it is certain to be a good means for time-killing – for example when you are on a long-haul trip by bus or train. There is also a TV Out Cable in the set, which will enable the user to play clips directly from the phone onto the big TV screen. This feature, combined with the DivX decoding, makes it a mobile player indeed. One can set the output signal to either PAL or NTSC, so that the greater compatibility will not let the color image appear as black and white on the TV. Regrettably, the cable has only three RCA jacks, so in case you dispose solely of a SCART socket, buying an additional transition plug will be indispensable.
The F500 supports the following music formats: MP3, AAC, AAC+, e-AAC+, WMA, and was in reality able to cope with all of them; the player also allows for displaying an album cover with the respective track in case there is one, as well as an option to choose out of eight equalizer settings. Another interesting option is sorting the tracks in playlists of “recently” and “most played”, which could be very convenient with numerous files; however, there is one unpleasant feature as well – the unavailability of standard functions such as sorting by album or artist. Sound is reproduced either by the loudspeaker or the headphones from the set, but it is a pity that a standard headset cannot be plugged due to the lack of a 3.5 mm stereo socket. And in case you will hardly ever utter the word “cable”, better use Bluetooth stereo.
Being an up-to-date device, Samsung F500 will not deprive the user of the opportunity to view office documents directly on the big display. We tested several ones made by Office 2003 (Word, Excel, Power Point), as well as PDF documents, and F500 experienced no problem in opening even bigger files. They can be viewed in the most convenient orientation – landscape or portrait, zoomed in and out as one needs to view them – and the device performed this task rather well. However, our attempts to open documents made by Office 2007 were doomed to fail. So, in case you are using the latter software, files should be saved as compatible with 2003.
For making good use of spare time, users have two JAVA games at their disposal: Powerinlinex and The Last Age. In the first you race on in-line skates and must pick points by overcoming obstacles; in the second you control a combat robot and the action takes place in the future.