Samsung's newest Galaxy S smartphone, the Continuum, will debut on Verizon Wireless. It features a "ticker display" in addition to its main touch screen.
Samsung unveiled the newest smartphone in its Galaxy S line,
the Continuum, during a New York City event Nov. 8. The device includes two
separate-but-integrated displays: a 3.4-inch "main screen" paired with a
1.8-inch ticker display, the latter of which feeds real-time information about
news, e-mails, missed calls and the like.
Exclusive carrier Verizon Wireless plans to offer the
Continuum for preorder Nov. 11, with in-store availability starting Nov. 18.
But will the ticker display attract customers who would otherwise gravitate
toward a rival device? That remains to be seen, although Samsung executives at
the unveiling event argued that the ticker display's streamlining content
dovetails nicely with the customers' need to multitask and stay constantly updated
on events around them.
Certainly Samsung's profited from its Galaxy S strategy,
which involves offering modified devices on all the major carriers. Sprint's
variant, the Samsung Epic 4G, includes a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, while the
Samsung Vibrant (on T-Mobile) and the Samsung Captivate (on AT&T) take
slightly different design approaches to the "pane of glass" form-factor
becoming standard in the wake of the Apple iPhone's success. In all three
cases, the carriers skinned the Google Android operating system with their own
Samsung executives claim some 3 million Galaxy S devices
have sold in the United States since their
July debut. That not only makes them a major competitor against not only other
Android devices, but also the iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry franchise.
The Samsung Continuum features a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor,
and runs Android 2.1-which the company promises will be upgraded. As expected
for phones in the Galaxy S line, both the main display and ticker display
utilize Samsung's Super AMOLED technology, with a 50,000:1 contrast ratio and
notable brightness even in sunlight. Other hardware: a 5-megapixel
camera/camcorder with auto-focus and LED flash, and a preinstalled 8GB microSD
card (expandable to 32GB).
But again, the competitive differentiator-which Verizon
Wireless doubtlessly hopes will evolve into a "killer feature"-is that ticket
display. Squeezing the capacitive grip sensor on the smartphone's sides, near
the bottom, wakes it up. From there, the user can swipe their finger across the
display to access real-time weather, news, entertainment and messaging updates,
and music controls.
Tapping an icon on the right-hand side will port the ticker
display's data, in expanded form, to the larger screen. Users can also swipe
through the ticker display's offerings even as the main screen shows something
entirely different; if you ever wanted to receive RSS updates or voicemail
notifications while typing an e-mail, well, your chance has arrived. Samsung
executives have indicated that the ticker display's effect on the smartphone's
battery life will depend on degree of use.
The Continuum's release opens yet another front for Samsung,
which seems determined to challenge the mobility market with a bevy of
smartphone and tablet offerings. The manufacturer's Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch tablet
PC, will soon hit the market on a variety of carriers, seeking to curb some of
the Apple iPad's momentum.
Will the Continuum's ticker display be enough to make it
stand out in that crowded market? Verizon Wireless certainly hopes so; it plans
on selling the smartphone for $199 with a two-year contract.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.