Break from the Norm

This is a bit of a break from the types of posts I usually make in that I’m going to take on a product review. I don’t know that this will me a normal thing, but I recently made a purchase and I have had a few people ask me about it, so I figured I might as well point people here when they do ask. The product itself may be helpful to small business owners in the same way an iPhone would be, so if you’re considering a smart phone for your business, read on.

About 10 days ago, I purchased the Samsung Galaxy S from Bell Canada. Now first off, I’m not a big fan of Bell. I bought an HTC Touch running Windows 5 or 6 or something nearly three years ago, with the extended-if-you-break-it-bring-it-into-any-store-and-we’ll-swap-it-out-warranty. Well, the phone sucked pretty bad when it came to reception. My house seemed to be in a dead-zone, so was work and most places in between. I got great reception with it downtown, too bad I only went there a few times per year. I took the phone into a Bell store after about a year of essentially not having a cell phone and tried to take advantage of the warranty. No go. They would send it in for repair, but I’d have to pay for a loaner phone and likely the repair, regardless of the warranty I had purchased.

I simply dropped my plan down as low as it would go and bought a pay as you go phone and forwarded my old number to it. Not ideal, but the solution worked and I had such unreliable cell coverage, the pay as you go didn’t add much to my monthly bill as no one ever called me anymore.

I was waiting for some of the other new players in the market to come up with better solutions and counting down the wait for my contract to expire. Then I saw it. I was walking through Costco and saw the Samsung Galaxy S. I can’t remember what was playing on the screen, but it looked really good and so I stopped to play with it for a few minutes. I had yet to see the Android interface but had no problem viewing live TV within a few seconds and getting a sense of a lot of the features.

I went home and researched it some more, only to find out the only carrier in Canada selling the phone was Bell. Why not just buy the phone outright and choose a carrier you ask? Well, when you haven’t had a paycheque for over a year, you tend to be happy getting a new toy that is heavily subsidized. It also got rid of the excess charges from my pay-as-you-go which have been climbing each month as Tooq gets busier and I’m on the go more often.

Anyways, it took a couple of weeks to find someone that had some in stock. They seem to have been flying off the shelves, though I think Bell has stocked very few to make the demand seem a little higher to compete with the iPhone 4 (which they also carry).

First off, the specs can be found here

The Good:

1. Fast processor – the 1Ghz processor is snappy and response is quick on everything.

2. The Screen – The screen is really, really sharp. I downloaded a movie from the net, not even HD, and it looks really good. I can;t wait to rip a couple of movies for my son to watch when we need a distraction.

3. Android – It’s running 2.1, but rumor has it that 2.2 will be available for the phone later this month. This is my first Android phone and so far I’m happy with it. Very functional, easy to navigate and sort things out, zero learning curve.

4. Apps – I haven’t tried a single paid app yet, but there is a tonne of free apps that are great. A few games that really show the power of the phone off and some handy utilities.

5. Google Integration – I can know get my email, and system emails from the site anywhere. It auto-synched my contacts when I connected my gmail accounts and I was on the go. The only phone number I had to program in was my home number as I didn’t have it anywhere online.

6. GPS – Not that I plan to use it a lot, but having built-in accessible GPS when traveling is nice to have and saves having to buy a single use gadget that I wouldn’t use very much.

7. Vlingo – Tap and speak to search google, create an email or send a text. I think you can even use it to post tweets and I tested posting to FB on the first or second day. A free app for Android that deserves to be mentioned.

8. Battery – Battery life seems to be pretty good. You’re looking at charging it most every night, but I’ve had no trouble getting through a full day on a single charge. Even the first two days when I didn’t put the phone down, it made it all the way through.

9. Google Goggles and a Bar Code Scanner – two visual search tools that are simply stunning in their tech.

10. Seamless transition to wireless – I walk in the door and it switches without interruption from 3G to my wireless router. Same goes for the times I walk into somewhere I’ve already set wireless up.

11. Create a wireless hotspot with your phone – I haven’t tried this yet, but apparently the phone can support up to eight connections using your data plan to connect to the web. I’ll likely be testing this out a little bit in Calgary tomorrow.

12. There is lots more I could mention, but this post is already getting long enough. 5Mp Camera shoots decent looking pictures and HD video,(though I haven’t played with either too much), camera on the front for video calls (extra charge from Bell, no camera on this phone in the US), Micro SD for up to 48 GB of storage (32GB card + 16GB internal storage), Youtube, Swype allows you to “type” incredibly fast making texts and emails a breeze, etc, etc.

13. Okay. One more. It is a phone. The calls I have placed and received have all been exceptionally crisp and clear. Not a single dropped call yet. No apparent “Death-grip”. Phone mechanics are good and no issues with face-dialing at all (Seems to turn screen off by the time it gets to your ear and comes back on quickly when brought away again).

The Bad

1. Pre-installed Apps – Bell has thrown a few things on the phone that can’t removed. A remote PVR controller would be great if I had Bell TV. I don’t, so why can’t I remove it? Pretty minor, but there are a handful of apps I can’t trash.

2. Three year contract – I really wish that Canada could get some viable competition and we could do away with the whole contract thing. Bell’s plan so far seems okay (expensive for what I get, but if they don’t burn me with hidden fees, I’ll survive).

3. Duplication of some apps – Looks like Google, via Android OS and Samsung as the manufacturer have both put some competing apps on the phone which can make some things confusing. Multiple ways to access Gmail, Facebook and Twitter, all with slight variations in look and feel. I’ve left the duplicates set up to try to get a feel for what I like best.

4. Contacts – Gmail, Twitter, Hotmail and Facebook all imported contacts to the phone for me. This did mean there was some duplication (easy, but tedious to handle). Strangely enough, they did not show up in the manage contacts function on my computer. I had to import/export everything to load them into the actual phone’s contact list. No big deal, it was just confusing.

5. Kies – However it is pronounced, Samsung has their own interface to manage things on the handset. Biggest problem is that it is not preloaded on the phone. You have to go to Samsung’s website, find your phone, find the application, download it, install it and then you can plug you phone in and manage information on your desktop. While the application itself seems really bloated, it does do a very nice job with video compression to the proper phone format and it synced all the music on my desktop that my wife had converted into iTunes format. So, a pain to get, but worthwhile and user-friendly when you do get it installed.

6. Accessories – Not sure where the supply chain breaks down, but Samsung has a really cool car dock, but I can’t find a place to buy it anywhere.

Overall, I’m really impressed with this phone. Do you need this phone? Maybe not, but if you’re getting into the iPhone/Blackberry/Android/Smartphone market, this is definitely a contender worthy of serious consideration.

If you have any questions about the phone, fire away in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

-Brian

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One Comment on “Break from the Norm”

  1. John says:

    Super-Duper site! I am liking it! Will come back once again � taking you feeds also. thank you


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