Samsung Galaxy Beam assessment: keep for the projector, however nothing extra

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

With a seemingly infinite stream of flagship telephones hitting the market earlier than the vacation season, it may be straightforward to overlook a number of the different units that play a extra area of interest viewers. The Samsung Galaxy Beam undoubtedly belongs on this class, because it features a constructed-in Texas Devices DLP pico projector. All informed, the telephone faces a lofty problem: whereas the projector might be helpful for the PowerPoint crowd, the telephone itself falls on the decrease finish of mid-vary, and is not highly effective sufficient to do enterprise customers a lot good in any other case. With a 1GHz twin-core NovaThor CPU, an excessively outdated OS, a 2010-period show and a middling 5-megapixel digital camera, the Beam’s goal demographic seems to be ridiculously small. Nonetheless, may the projector be sufficient to hold this gadget to its full potential? Does a distinct segment system like this have a spot in such a crowded market? Learn on to get in contact with our ideas, emotions and feelings relating to the Samsung Galaxy Beam.

Gallery | forty seven Pictures
Samsung Galaxy Beam assessment

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Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Beam

Execs

  • Projector works properly
  • Wonderful battery life
  • Strong and durable construct

Cons

  • Runs on out of date construct of Android
  • Low-finish specs do not match skilled wants

Abstract

Until you completely want a pico projector, there is no purpose to splurge on a tool with decrease-finish specs when your cash might be greatest spent elsewhere.

Hardware

In lots of respects, the Galaxy Beam is only a Galaxy S Advance that is been redesigned to suit that projector. Whereas the 2 look utterly totally different on the surface, the interior specs are almost equivalent, except for battery capability. As an example, each units have a 1GHz twin-core NovaThor CPU with 768MB RAM, a four-inch WVGA TFT show and a 5-megapixel rear-dealing with shooter with 720p video seize. Each have 8GB of inner storage, although the Advance additionally has a 16GB choice. These aren’t the one similarities between the 2, however you get the thought for now.

In lots of respects, the Galaxy Beam is only a Galaxy S Advance that is been redesigned to suit that projector.

The surface is a unique story. The Galaxy Beam has a rugged, sporty look, with a black textured battery cowl on the again and a big yellow stripe ringing the surface of the gadget. (Observe: a white-and-gray choice can also be out there in sure markets.) Whereas we doubt it is truly as tough as your commonplace MIL-spec gadget, it is a minimum of making an attempt to offer off the impression that it isn’t constructed with run-of-the-mill cheapo plastic. To its credit score, it definitely has a strong really feel, and its 124 x sixty four.2 x 12.5 mm (four.88 x 2.fifty three x zero.forty nine in) body is sufficiently small to make sure that the jaws of life would not be capable of loosen up your grip on the factor. At 5.eleven ounces (145g), the telephone is not terribly heavy, however the projector nonetheless makes it weigh a bit greater than your common four-inch system.

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

The star of the present is perched on the highest fringe of the telephone, and its heft creates a bulge that pokes out the highest of the battery cowl. Let’s give the designers some credit score right here: we determine it could’t be straightforward to design a telephone round a projector (or vice versa), and the workforce did a great job of one way or the other incorporating it into the chassis with out turning it into a clumsy mess. Sure, the telephone is far thicker than what we’re accustomed to, nevertheless it’s nonetheless snug to grip. The truth is, this can be a purpose the corporate selected to stay with a four-inch show — we might undoubtedly see the thickness turning into a problem on units with bigger screens. Because the prime of the Beam appears to be the traditional locale for the three.5mm headphone jack, this specific function migrated to the telephone’s left aspect to make room for the projector. That is not an excellent place to stay it — most smartphone customers who take heed to music regularly discover this setup fairly irritating when they should stick the gadget of their pockets. Finally, on this case, the most effective place for the jack would’ve been on the underside.

Accompanying the headphone port on the left aspect are the quantity rocker and full-sized SIM slot. That is trigger for an additional frustration, as most smartphones launched within the second half of this yr benefit from micro-SIMs. Should you sport a smaller SIM, you will have to both swap it out for the tremendous-measurement choice or shortly discover a $1 adapter. Watch out although: the SIM port’s ejection mechanism is usually a bit fickle (the playing cards go in simply high-quality, however getting them out takes slightly extra effort), so keep away from low cost plastic adapters that snap like twigs.

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

The correct aspect of the telephone homes the projector on / off change, the usual energy button and microSD slot. The latter port can help playing cards as much as 32GB, which is essential to level out because you solely get 8GB inner storage (which finally results in lower than 6GB that you would be able to truly play with when all is claimed and achieved). A micro-USB charging port sits on the underside of the telephone. As we briefly talked about earlier, the Beam’s show is a four-inch WVGA (800 x 480) TFT panel. That is the type of decision you will primarily discover on finances telephones these days. Frankly, we might’ve most popular to see a qHD display right here, particularly because the going worth is round £270 ($430). For what it is value, Samsung’s choice to make use of TFT over the PenTile Tremendous AMOLED was a sensible one, as we did not discover ourselves getting too distracted by pixelation or jagged edges. Whereas it is not as sharp a panel as we wish to see on in the present day’s fancier telephones, we nonetheless discovered watching films to be nice. Moreover, the display is vibrant sufficient that we have been capable of pull off some daylight studying, and the viewing angles are additionally higher than we initially anticipated.

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

The again cowl includes a tender rubbery end with a nice texture to supply some additional grip and hold fingerprints away. You will additionally see the 5-megapixel digital camera and LED flash entrance and middle, with the Samsung emblem sitting instantly beneath. The one different function on the again is the speaker grille, which is barely raised to maintain the exterior speaker from being muffled. The again cowl and accompanying 2,000mAh battery beneath are each detachable.

Projector

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

Undoubtedly, the spotlight of the Galaxy Beam — and admittedly its sole cause for even present — is the 15-lumen DLP nHD (640×360) pico projector constructed immediately into the higher half of the gadget. Unconventional as it might appear to some, this is not Samsung’s first (and even second) time on the projector-telephone rodeo; we have seen the producer try this type issue with the AnyCall W7900 (aka the Haptic Beam), the AMOLED Beam W9600 and the unique Galaxy Beam I8520. In fact, that is the perfect of the bunch, and the aggressive panorama is nearly non-existent in the intervening time; most producers have not even bothered with this specific area of interest. (Warning: it possible goes with out saying, however do not look immediately into the projector when it is turned on.)

This is not Samsung’s first time on the projector-telephone rodeo, nevertheless it’s one of the best effort we have seen thus far.

The thought is which you can challenge films and pictures as much as 50 inches in measurement, and keep its readability for as much as six ft away from the wall or ceiling you are projecting it onto. We have been fairly happy with its general efficiency: it maintained strong video high quality and synced audio easily, so that everybody’s voice got here out on the actual time it was purported to. The projector itself has adjustable brightness ranges, though even at its brightest setting the projection was a bit darker than what we noticed on the display. However that is to be anticipated — the Galaxy Beam will not be changing anyone’s TV, however it nonetheless works properly in a darkish room (outcomes are combined in daylight). Additionally — and this should not come as a shock — nevertheless it’s value noting that the projector will get fairly scorching after prolonged use.

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

For those who’re contemplating utilizing the Beam as a TV substitute, we’ve got some excellent news: we had no drawback watching films by way of third-social gathering apps like Netflix, which suggests you possibly can stream video with ease. There are additionally a couple of additional settings that Samsung has thrown into the devoted projector app, comparable to a flashlight mode, a “fast pad” mode that allows you to take screenshots of your display and draw on it (splendid for shows) and an atmosphere mode that allows you to watch slideshows with music enjoying within the background. There’s additionally a “visible presenter” that makes use of your telephone’s digital camera to behave as an overhead projector. At first, we could not consider many makes use of for the Beam’s projector, outdoors of a businessperson utilizing it for shows, nevertheless it truly got here in handier than we anticipated. This editor watched films on the wall (and ceiling) in his bed room earlier than falling asleep — a handy choice, because the projection was bigger than the TV he had laying round. What’s extra, stressed youngsters can watch a film (or use the fast pad to attract) in virtually each attainable state of affairs. And assume concerning the superb impromptu trip slideshows you possibly can exhibit to your mates. Is that sufficient justification for most individuals to purchase this telephone? Not likely, however we’re completely happy the choice is out there for anybody who feels the necessity.

Software program

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

Assume the hardware is a troublesome promote? The firmware is not going to assist persuade you to buy a Galaxy Beam both, because it’s operating Android 2.three Gingerbread. As a fast reminder, this construct of Google’s cellular OS is about to rejoice its two-yr anniversary. There’s merely no excuse for a contemporary smartphone to be operating an antiquated OS, even whether it is an entry-degree system. To be truthful, Samsung’s confirmed that Jelly Bean will come ultimately, however the firm hasn’t given at ETA. It is fairly attainable we cannot see an replace till someday subsequent yr.

There isn’t any logical purpose this telephone must be operating Gingerbread.

What you get on the Beam is identical commonplace-grade TouchWiz four.zero UI that first shipped on the Galaxy S II. And since it isn’t tied to any particular service, you will not have to fret about any irritating bloatware — good factor, too, since it isn’t really easy to eliminate undesirable apps on Gingerbread. Worst-case state of affairs, this specific model of TouchWiz permits you to add folders into the usual app menu, so it is a lot simpler to only tuck annoying apps out of the best way so you do not have to see them.

Digital camera

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

Wanting on the Beam’s spec sheet, we’re not stunned to see a 5-megapixel shooter and VGA entrance-dealing with digital camera. These are Samsung’s go-to modules for decrease-finish smartphones, and we did not actually anticipate to see many breathtaking pictures come out of this telephone in consequence. Positive sufficient, our pattern photographs have been okay, but when imaging is your factor you will need to look to the producer’s larger-finish choices. When it comes to options and settings, you even have fairly a couple of methods to tweak your photographs — Samsung has all the time been very beneficiant in that regard. You possibly can customise the settings sidebar with the options you employ probably the most. Faucet the viewfinder to lock focus however not publicity; if you wish to do each, simply maintain down the shutter button till you are prepared to fireside away. You may also take panoramic photographs and use the standard smattering of scene modes (low-mild can be notably beneficial), publicity changes, macro focus mode, three filters, white stability and ISO. HDR is not an choice right here, sadly, however likelihood is you will not miss it an excessive amount of on a decrease-finish digital camera.

Gallery | sixty seven Photographs
Samsung Galaxy Beam evaluation: pattern photographs

Spec-clever, the digital camera has a focal size of three.54mm and an f/2.6 aperture. In daylight, lighter colours have been sometimes washed out, whereas the white stability appeared to favor a shift towards yellow. Element wasn’t a lot of a priority right here, and we did not discover any compression in our photographs. Low-mild pictures truly turned out nicely, as long as we used the devoted low-mild scene mode (normal and backlight photographs will not do any good). Moreover, the LED flash enabled the digital camera to seize extra shade than we anticipated.

With a decrease-res digital camera typically comes decrease-res video seize, with 1,280 x 720 being the most effective you will get right here. All films are recorded in MPEG-four format at 30 fps (on common) and use a bit price of 12.three Mbps. The mic picks up voices properly, however the ensuing footage is barely uneven and lacks plenty of element and sharpness. It does not meet our expectations, however it’s enough for the occasional house video.

Efficiency and battery life

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

In case you’ve chanced a gander on the silicon inside, you will know that the Beam is not meant to please the excessive-finish energy consumer. It packs a 1GHz twin-core NovaThor U8500 (a 45nm 32-bit Cortex-A9 processor) with 768MB of RAM and a Mali-four hundred GPU. Samsung’s processor choice is just a little curious right here, as ST-Ericsson’s NovaThor model is not precisely recognized for top efficiency. The Sony Xperia U and Xperia P each share the identical chipset however once more, we do not assume prime-notch efficiency was a precedence for the corporate with this system. Anybody resigned to getting a price range telephone will probably be proud of its velocity and responsiveness, however energy customers will crave one thing extra strong. Additionally, we might advise you to not use this system in the event you’re planning to play loads of graphics-intensive video games, although the telephone does work fantastic for informal gaming. This is how the benchmarks pan out:

Samsung Galaxy Beam Sony Xperia P Sony Xperia U Quadrant (v2.zero) 2,764 2,161 2,one hundred twenty five Vellamo (v2.zero) 684 N/A N/A AnTuTu 5,250 four,965 5,348 SunSpider zero.9.1 (ms) 2,391 three,010 2,696 GLBenchmark 2.5 1080p Egypt Offscreen (fps) Would not run N/A N/A CF-Bench 5,138 four,855 5,346 SunSpider: decrease scores are higher. Xperias have been examined on GLBench 2.1 and Vellamo 1.zero, which at the moment are out of date.

The Beam has a 2,000mAh detachable battery that performs respectably. Our normal rundown check, which includes looping a video with the display at 50 % brightness, yielded 9 and a half hours of life earlier than it dwindled right down to 10 % capability (the video refused to play after that). As for actual-world utilization, we obtained a day and a half with average use. However how does the telephone maintain up if you’re utilizing the projector? As you may anticipate, battery life takes an enormous hit, however the telephone managed to final 4 hours with the projector operating. As an apart, we ran our check because it circulated by means of the identical slideshow time and again, so the battery will doubtless drain even quicker when you’re utilizing the projector to stream Netflix or carry out equally graphics-intensive duties.

The Beam gives good battery life, however its efficiency can be off-placing to anybody not on the lookout for a finances smartphone.

You will discover above-common audio high quality on the Beam when listening to music or watching films. Earlier than the evaluation, one among our largest worries was how loud the sound can be when viewing multimedia by way of the projector (not everybody can be gathered across the telephone, in any case), however we will confidently say that there is no purpose to be involved until you are in a crowded room; the exterior speaker exceeded our expectations, although the audio wasn’t all that fantastic once we had our Klipsch Picture S4A headphones plugged in. You are not going to get fairly the dynamic audio vary or fullness of sound that you’re going to hear on a flagship handset just like the Galaxy Observe II — the bass that comes by way of sounded muddy, and voices have been barely distant.

Whereas the Beam’s HSPA+ radio is just able to hitting a theoretical restrict of 14.four Mbps, it truly performs admirably given its constraints. Our unit, which provides quad-band 3G (850/900/1900/2100) and quad-band GSM / EDGE (850/900/1800/1900), was persistently capable of attain common obtain speeds between 6 Mbps and seven Mbps. It will not entry 3G on any AWS networks, sadly. Calls got here by way of loud and clear, and we did not have any struggles hanging onto a dialog because the Beam’s reception was fairly dependable all through our checks.

Pricing and availability

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

How a lot of a premium ought to be positioned on a telephone that comes with a projector, particularly when the remainder of the gadget deserves a powerful meh? The Beam’s worth varies by market, however within the UK, at the very least, it is out there for £270 ($430), whereas the Galaxy S Advance goes for £250 ($four hundred). It is also obtainable in France, Singapore, India and Brazil. US clients can import an unlocked mannequin with AT&T-suitable 3G. Samsung’s nonetheless courting different markets as nicely, so there is a good probability we’ll proceed to see the Beam develop into extra extensively out there.

Wrap-up

Samsung Galaxy Beam review: stay for the projector, but nothing more

There’s undoubtedly some pleasure available when reviewing a tool so out of the peculiar, however we discovered it slightly troublesome to make a ultimate judgment name. The Galaxy Beam does nicely at what it claims to be good at (projecting media), nevertheless it’s in any other case mediocre at greatest. That is to not say it is a horrible telephone, however the low-to-mid-vary function set makes it a troublesome promote at $430, particularly when you possibly can pay the identical worth for a lot nicer units lately. On this state of affairs, it signifies that you both have to like the projector sufficient to justify the upper worth, or the function is so essential to your small business that you simply’re prepared to sacrifice a whole lot of trendy performance to get it.

The Beam is fascinating as a proof of idea, however we do not see it blossoming into something greater than that these days. That is to not say this über-particular class does not have a future, however one thing as distinctive as a projector would probably discover extra success in a extra premium telephone: it must be included into larger-finish units with out making compromises in elements, firmware or measurement. Solely then can it’s viable as a mainstream gadget. Till then, it is a enjoyable gadget to point out off to associates, however that is the extent of its strengths.

Richard Lai contributed to this assessment.

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