Mobile Phones Guide

Samsung Galaxy Beam review

Samsung Galaxy Beam - Projecting With a Smartphone

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Launch SRP S$1018

Overall rating 8.5/10
Design:
7.5
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
9
Value:
8
THE GOOD
Good projector performance with well-suited apps
Extremely responsive UI
Great battery life
Beautiful 3.7-inch Super AMOLED display
THE BAD
Samsung UI features that cannot be disabled mar the Android experience
Bulky physical appearance
Decidedly average multimedia capabilities


Features & Performance

Mobile Projector

Off the bat, as mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Beam bears physical resemblance to its cousin, the Galaxy S. This sense of dejavu is repeated in its provided software; the phone also comes with similar features like the Android 2.1 OS, Social Hub (a one-stop social media app), SWYPE (spelling on the QWERTY by connecting an unbroken line between letters), and a clean i-Phonesque application interface. Likewise, camera and video enthusiasts will be overjoyed to know that the Galaxy Beam comes with 720p video resolution recording as well, but sports an upgraded 8-megapixel camera with flash (but more on these functions later).

All things said, in the smartphone scheme of things, the Samsung Galaxy Beam is very much like the Galaxy S, with a few minute changes that in our opinion, will not affect the general familiarity in operating the phone. Prominently, the phone teeters on the edge of bulkiness, coupled with a slower 720MHz processor and a smaller 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen. Nonetheless, the screen still responds quickly, and despite the lower processor speed, surfing and general usage is still snappy. The disparage in screen size doesn't detract from our positive findings of the screen on the Galaxy S as its Super AMOLED screen still exhibits excellent usability under sunlight, and has excellent reproduction of colors and contrast.

The main subject of interest here, is of course, the phone's projector capability. Pico projectors have been in the market for quite some time now, even HardwareZone has had its fill of reviews on these products. Now, a smart projector phone is a new concept  - and one that offers touch-screen capabilities, video/photo syncing with a built-in camera, and streaming of videos through Wi-Fi or 3G. These all contribute to a versatile and yet, experimental experience which is a tad rough on the edges - a summary of the overall interaction on the Galaxy Beam.

 

You can also access the projector app by long-pressing the Quick pad button, as mentioned earlier, located on the phone's right profile. Once selected, anything on your phone's screen will be projected as you navigate through. The phone can do this in both portrait or landscape mode, but this requires a tilt to the left for the accelerometer to kick in to switch from one format to another - an annoying feature since its response is patchy. Another thing is that once you switch to landscape mode, it will be difficult to make notes on the screen since the screen is no longer facing you. Hence, it is best to prop the projector onto a support instead of holding it in your hands.

The lumens level (rated at 9.5) is lower than those of current pico projectors (usually in the 12 to 15 range) in the market. However from our testing, it does suffice even in a bright room when projecting a small size, but works best if the room is reasonably dark and on a white space. The phone can support and project a comprehensive list of audio and video formats, and popular formats like .PPTX, .DOCX, and .PDF through the ThinkFree Office Mobile app. Videos can also be retrieved through streaming off MobiClip, a mobile web video search service that sources for videos on sites like YouTube, as well as streams content from broadband channels like National Geographic. To add on, Samsung has added a couple of nifty touches like a Quick Pad option, a feature that allows the user to bring up a cursor-shaped pointer or type text, and a Visual Presenter option that allows images or videos to be captured via the cameras lens and projected real-time. It's a good thing that these apps respond snappily.

You can also choose to switch off the phone's screen while projecting. The only drawback here is that you can’t view your battery life while projecting your powerpoint slides or videos. The screen can be easily retrieved by hitting the home button.

Do note that the examples below were taken in a dark room and expanded to project 50 inches in size.

 

  

While we were pretty much satisfied with the quality of the projection, the same cannot be said for the audio. While at the maximum volume level, it is only sufficient for a small audience of 6 to 10 people. A bigger group of listeners will warrant the need to use external speakers that are compatible with a 3.5mm jack. 

Besides the projector, another feature that stands out is the phone's 8-megapixel camera with flash, as well as its 720p video recording capabilities. While this sounds impressive on its own, so it is unsurprising that one might expect above average performance from the Samsung Galaxy Beam's imaging capabilities. Thus, we conducted our usual imaging tests to determine if it does live up to its specifications.

Unfortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Beam's 8-megapixel camera is decidedly average - images lack details, and have a yellowish cast.  The problem can be detected even more prominently in the static image test, double confirming that details were pretty fuzzy, and colors were not accurate. Definitely, the phone's strong point is not its camera or its video capabilities. While its flash can be activated during video recording, auto-focus functions are disabled, leaving us with a mostly out-of-focus and additionally, noisy video.

According to its specifications, the Samsung Galaxy Beam is rated for a talk time of up to 7 hours on its 1800mAh battery with 3G switched on. Similar to our previous tests, we adopted our battery test with the following parameters: screen brightness and volume at 100%, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi active, with push emails or data being pulled from the network at regular intervals. Following which, a video encoded at 240 x 320 pixels resolution was looped on the Samsung Galaxy Beam, and the results are listed as below.  The Samsung Galaxy Beam goes up against the Samsung Galaxy S, HTC Desire, and Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 in our comparison.

Specifications/Device Samsung Galaxy Beam Samsung Galaxy S HTC Desire Sony Ericsson Xperia 10
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0 + A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0 + A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
Dimensions
  • 123 x 59.4 x 14.9 mm 
  • 122.4 X 64.2 X 9.9 mm
  • 119.8 x 60 x 11.9 mm
  • 119 x 63 x 13 mm
Weight
  • 155g
  • 118g
  • 135g
  • 135g
Screen size
  • 3.7-inch, 800 x 480 pixels
  • 4.0-inch, 800 x 480 pixels
  • 3.7-inch, 800 x 480 pixels 
  • 4.0-inch, 854 x 480 pixels
Battery
  • 1800 mAh
  • 1500 mAh
  • 1400 mAh
  • 1500 mAh

The Galaxy Beam comes with a generous 1800mAh battery, obviously catering to its projector abilities, and it is no wonder it lasted longer than those with a smaller battery capacity. It has a similar mileage as the Samsung Galaxy S, outlasting it by close to half an hour, taking the top spot for overall battery performance. However, its added weight and dimensions still places the Galaxy Beam at a disadvantage when it comes to the Portability index. Interestingly though, it managed to still rank as well as the Desire, so it's not exactly too bad. The Xperia X10 however ranks the worst due to lousy battery life.

Because of its added projector capabilities, we decided to conduct another battery test similar to the one mentioned above, but this time with the projector switched on and projecting the same video. We obtained a pretty decent uptime of 3 hours and 30 minutes (with an extra 15% of battery left - for the uninitiated, the phone shuts the projector off and refuses to switch on when battery is low). An additional bonus point for the phone is that it didn't feel too warm despite all the stress-testing we've put it through.

Lastly we put the phone through a usual daily routine of cellular activity and data usage. The Samsung Galaxy Beam lasted no more than a day, which ranks on par with most other Android devices in the market.