Samsung Galaxy S Offers Sharp Screen, Half-Baked Features

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Samsung Galaxy S Offers Sharp Screen, Half-Baked Features

by Nicholas Kolakowski

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AT&Ts Samsung Captivate (left) and T-Mobiles Samsung Vibrant (right) are two of the four phones based on the Samsung Galaxy S model.

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All versions of the Samsung Galaxy S come loaded with Android 2.1, although an Android 2.2 update is promised before the end of the year. Android 2.1 feels decidedly more polished than earlier versions of the operating system.

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While the Samsung Galaxy S offers a sleek overall design, both the Samsung Captivate and the Samsung Vibrant feel lightweight and a bit cheap, with the physical buttons and ports seeming to fit uncomfortably in the frame.

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Android 2.1 offers "Live Wallpapers" that create a continually moving background. For those who love their visual bells-and-whistles, its a decided improvement over the static wallpapers of Apples iOS 4.

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The smartphones 4-inch Super AMOLED screen offers sharp, bright images—even in direct sunlight—thanks to the 50,000:1 contrast ratio.

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The Android Market now includes thousands of apps and games, although some of them are decidedly unpolished.

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The built-in GPS claims it can pinpoint the users location on Google Maps to within 40 yards. This seems a pretty accurate claim, although the smartphone is (obviously) much better at pinpointing locations in open areas such as Brooklyns Prospect Park, as opposed to built-up neighborhoods.

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The Samsung Media Hub wasnt available for review, but Samsung claims it will offer an extensive library of entertainment content once launched sometime this fall.

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The Samsung Captivate includes a variety of AT&T-specific apps, including AT&T Navigator, AT&T Maps, AT&T Radio and AT&T Hot Spots.

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The Samsung Captivate also features a YouTube search bar on the home screen. Both the Captivate and the Vibrant put their YouTube capabilities front and center (no surprise, considering its Android).

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The Samsung Captivates pages of apps.

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The Galaxy S includes an HD video player and recorder (1,280 by 720) capable of shooting 30 frames per second. In practice, the images and sound seemed crisp, even in low-light shooting conditions such as this dusk fireworks display.

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The smartphones 5-megapixel camera takes relatively clear shots, although some interior images (particularly where the primary lighting source is fluorescent, or from a computer screen) came with a soft-focus sheen.

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It takes some time to adapt to the preinstalled Swype feature, which lets you drag a finger around the virtual keyboard instead of tapping out individual letters. This reviewer preferred traditional typing.

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Note the design differences between the Vibrant and Captivate.

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