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Little things mean a lot...

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#1
nickcornaglia

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Did you ever have a phone, where you found yourself wondering if the manufacturers/developers/networks ever really used the phone before it went into production? How could they let little annoyances that most Smartphone users complain about, continue through phone-release after phone-release? Things that should just be included but rarely are?

Just one small example...Alarms. Didn't ONE Smartphone tester ever have the need to have multiple alarms with easy access before stamping their approval on the buried single alarm function of most Smartphones?

The fine folks at Samsung & Cingular really seem to either be actual Smartphone users, and/or really into making the end-user experience more enjoyable. Adding convenience items throughout the release of the i607 Blackjack, for the purpose of, what I believe, is to attract "non-smartphone users" by providing simple little apps and interfaces, closer to what they are used to on previous phones. Seasoned Smartphone users can appreciate the bells and whistles as well, as added value built-in to the device.

None of what I list after the jump are particularly earth shattering , but it's just some of the little things that give me warm and fuzzy feelings when using a new phone...showing that the manufacturer/carrier care that the end user's experience is as good, right out of the box, as it can be. Read on...(pics included).
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Please note that though there are definitely more robust versions of some of the applications/tweaks listed below, it's nice that many of these are included right out of the box.

Let's start with the Homescreen. Samsung/Cingular have really taken into account the landscape screen, noting that the lack of vertical real estate could cause a problem with too many plugins listed vertically. Their solution was to create pop-up and scrolling plugins that hide out the way when not needed.
Here is an example of the the Samsung Simple Plugin that lets you view Message Counts, Missed Calls, Calendar, MyDocuments/Storage Card Shortcuts, and a 10 count MRU listing available by side scrolling. There is also a Media Player control that allows you to launch the player with a keypress and scroll thru songs by moving the cursor left and right.

Also notice the customized Carrier Plugin that places a border around the text, making it so virtually any background photo will look good on screen. Also notice that they have included a Black Theme that uses the work around to allow for solid black buttons as opposed to the grey ones we were stuck with in WM5.

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The Samsung PopUp Plugin shows the same information, but in a version that hides when not needed:

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The Samsung Calendar and Samsung Clock plugins have the same interface but also include a month calendar or analog clock respectively.

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Another Homescreen real estate saver is the Quick Application launcer available by pressing down on the scroll wheel for a couple of seconds. A nice convenience, available from any screen, not just the home screen. Additions to the list are easily made by selecting EDIT in the list. Webpage shortcuts can also be added from your favorites as well as Files and Folders. Large icons can be used instead of the list w/text shown below.

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A nice addition is the customization of the right soft key. They have included a built in app to easily change the right key to ANY app you wish. Without ANY hacks/tweaks.

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The side key (under the scroll wheel) is also customizable. On a short click, it acts as a back button. The long press is what is customizable. I have mine mapped to the camera app.

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Speaking of tweaks, also included is an app that provides the ability to change from Grid Menu to List Menu. This is something that I am glad is included as I still haven't decided which view I like better. But I don't need to install the imate app I pulled off of an old Smartphone to get the job done...it's built in.

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An odd addition is the Dialer Screen customization. This changes the Dialer screen from the normal built in one with colorscheme defined numbers, to, er, um, rainbow colored numbers. Why? I have no clue. I'll just leave that set to Standard Mode, thanks. :) These settings as well as the StartMenu Style settings are lumped together with the HomeScreen settings under a new heading named Display.

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Ring Tones have also been given their own sub listing under sounds for what I am guessing is to make it easier to find, making it more familiar to first-time Smartphone users.

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The last new/different addition in setting is Text Input/T9 Settings which allow you to turn predictive text on or off as well as choose your T9 language which includes the odd combination of English, Spanish & Portuguese.

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A cool Windows Media Player skin is included with the phone that not only keeps with the black theme of the Blackjack but also includes a cool equalizer-type visualization. Nice!

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Getting into pre-installed applications, there are quite a few. Again...none of them are ultra, must-have apps, but they are nice additions, especially since very basic phones include apps with this functionality.

A configurable alarms app that replaces the now missing alarm function in the Time Settings. It allows you to configure 10 alarms with individual ringtones, snooze sets and repeat variables. Not the most prfect alarm program...but alot nicer than what we had before.

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The calculator is basically the same but adds % Xn and SqRoot functionality.

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There is a convenient conversion application that does the job nicely though the currency function needs to be updated manually. They should have had it pull current rates from the internet.

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D-Day is a cool, yet simple countdown/countup application for people like me that like to know at a glance how many days they are old...or how many day's until retirement!

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MyStuff is a cool little addition that provides a quick shortcut to you MyDocuments on the phone, providing a comfortable PC like experience.

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The MS Notepad application has been replaced with a version that can be synchronized via a conduit included on the CD. This should have been fixed by Microsoft by now...but thanks Samsung for filling in the gap! (I havn't really tried this as I am still a SyncData SmartphoneNotes user which has never failed me).

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Speaking of SyncData (http://www.syncdata.it), a verion of their app SmartPhoneFind has been included relabeled, SmartSearch, allowing you to search the contents of your PIM apps and files.

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Picsel Viewer also come pre-installed for viewing Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Acrobat PDF files as well as images. It's fast and smooth and the zoom feature is cool (very google maps/earth-ish).

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An RSS Reader has also been included, which to me, is essential for any Smartphone (or PC) these days. It's my preferred web surfing method these days.

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A basic stopwatch program is pre-installed, with lap times as well.

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A World clock is included as well, that has a nice little interface.

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Lastly, there are a bunch of Cingular specific media download applications as well. Cingular video (not full screen), Cingular music (never tried it), XM Radio (only 10 music stations total for the same price as a full internet only subscription that allows over 200 channels that you can listen to via other apps). They are all a bit expensive, especially since there are online alternatives for all of them. Mostly for the Non-Smartphone users.....No thanks!

Except for one...MusicID. This is just cool. Listen to a song on the radio, dont know the name or who sings it? Run this app and it will figure it out for you. Then it brings up the album data and info on how to buy it. This costs a fee per month to use, but I got a few uses of it for free which was cool enough to try it out.

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One more thing I noticed in the Time settings was the addition of Automatic Updating of the time. A feature found in most phones but sadly not activated by the carrier in Smartphones (that I have had at least), until now.

Thanks Samsung. Thanks Cingular. Thanks Microsoft. You guys are definitely gettiing better and better at this. :D

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-Nick

#2
w411y

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Tiny but mighty improvements :) Good stuff

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#3
nickcornaglia

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Fixed the photos....sorry about that! :)

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-Nick

#4
willie3white

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third windows smartphone for me and i totally agree this phone is leaps and bounds above the htc star trek i had so i agree with everything said in the above article and find this phone well put together and pretty sturdy the only thing i don't like about it is the small center nav key but i can overlook it for now

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#5
dseiden

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Great to see that some of the manufacturers are not waiting for Microsoft to add things that should be standard. I am using one of these now and it is nice to see that lots of apps do not need to be purchased because of these built in offerings.

Thanks for the quick overview.. even saw some that I had missed when I looked thru the device.

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#6
JwY

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great summary of things i never knew it had
if only the excalibur had so many nice extras
i want the alarm, notepad, and picsel viewer :)
little things make all that extra difference

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#7
pierre

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Very nice review. I hope we'll soon see lots more such devices produced by regular brands.

Edited by pierre, 04 December 2006 - 07:36 AM.

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#8
Monolithix

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Sigh. I *really* want this phone! As an email and messaging device its perfect. Incidentally the odd coloured numbers is a Samsung thing, most of their handsets have this by default. The D900 even has an odd quill pen that scrawls the numbers out in italics, weird. Thats those crazy Koreans for you though!

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#9
PPCPassion

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Good enhancement review. I did not know for example,with Piscel, I could view not only images but excel files too! Very Cool :) Another "feature" I noticed that was not in my prev phone which was QTEK 8500 is that under Settings>Connections>USB, I can select if I want to use the device via Active Sync, USB Mass storage or as a modem. Probably, its MS enhancement in the latest rom but I am glad that who ever decided this enhancement, thanks!!

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#10
mikeeey

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those things are cool.

but i can name u 1 con of this phone. its a landscape smartphone, meaning that if a smartphone app comes out your gonna have to wait longer for that company to release the landscape version, (if they even make a landscape version). QVGA programs come out first before the landscape ones.

and i personally dont like how wide the phone is, but thats just my opinion, i just figure if its that wide then its better off getting a pocket pc the same width.

otherwise those seem like some pretty cool features. the windows media player makes me wonder if u can just use a .gif animation in the media player and itl look like a visulation, il have to try that on one of my wmp11 skins.

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