Samsung Bang & Olufsen Serenata in-depth review -

Look and Feel

With its large screen and neat aluminium 'turn' wheel, the Serenata looks distinctly Bang and Olufsen and quite unlike any other phone on the planet. However, the quirky design means it's not immediately obvious which way is up and which is down.

Features

An immense built-in music player, HSDPA and 4GB of internal memory are just about enough to compensate for the lack of camera or gaming ability. However, as a music phone, it rocks!

Ease of Use

The click wheel works well when scrolling through your music and the touchscreen is responsive enough. However, if you get to grips with writing text messages with the wheel then Mobile Choice applauds you.

Performance

The music player's audio performance is some of the best we've ever heard. The HSDPA coupled with the large screen also makes browsing the web an absolute joy.

Battery Life

Average at best with three hours of talktime and five hours of playback time. Using the EarSet 3 increases the playback time up to thirteen hours.

 Samsung Bang & Olufsen Serenata Review -
3

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:49:38 PM

10

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

6

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

With Bang & Olufsen providing the necessary technology, the sound quality is simply wonderful.

Cons:

The click wheel whilst useful for scrolling through content makes texting or emailing too much effort.

The Full Samsung and Bang & Olufsen Serenata

An upside down iPod? A 'Communicator' from Star Trek? The new Samsung and Bang & Olufsen handset could be mistaken for any of the above. A phone? Not on first glance that's for sure.

Following in the footsteps of Samsung and Bang & Olufsen's first creation the Serene, the Serenata packs far more than its predecessor. Billed as a high-end music device with additional phone and internet capabilities, rather than a 'music phone', the Serenata is a curious device. With Bang & Olufsen providing the audio technology for the Serenata, the sound quality was always going to be of a high standard. Using their ICEpower amplifier technology to give it superior sound quality we were still taken aback by how good it actually is.

ICEpower amplifiers

Where ICEpower amplifiers excel is that they manage to convert 90% of their input power into the output of their speakers. In contrast more conventional analogue speakers only manage to convert 10% of their input power. The results are second to none when it comes to mobile music devices. By sliding the hi-fi speakers open and with its neat pull out stand, the Serenata can be rested upright creating a mini jukebox that's small stature succumbs to its mammoth sound. Our one gripe would be that the speaker is a little on the stiff side to slide out.

The Serenata comes with 4GB of memory giving you the capacity to store around 1,000 songs. Music can be searched and scrolled through artists, albums, tracks or even album covers. As with the iPod, users can also make playlists or download podcasts. Bang & Olufsen's BeoPlayer software automatically sorts your music alphabetically by genre, artist, track or album title.

Pebble-like design

In contrast to the Serene that was much more rectangular, the Serenata is curvaceous taking its inspiration from stones found on a beach. Described as being able to rest comfortably in the palm of your hand, this is perhaps a stretch of the imagination, unless you happen to be the green giant or of such ilk. It can't be described as small, or light (136g), but the Serenata does pack a fair amount into its bulky body.

Click wheel control

Appearance wise and the fascia is dominated by the large 2.26-inch LCD screen and the aluminium click wheel. The wheel is the key controlling mechanism and is surrounded by four hard keys. These include the send; back; end; and cancel buttons. Below the wheel are the 'music' and 'more' functions that can be accessed by pressing the touchscreen. The idea of these two features is to keep the music capabilities separate from that of the phones. The different functions for each can be scrolled through using the wheel with the colour blue highlighting the phone functions and red highlighting the music. Commands can be confirmed by pressing the fifth hard key found in the center of the wheel.

Text entry

Due to the lack of keypad, text must be entered via the wheel which putting it politely will take some getting used to. Despite this, the screen can cater up to seven lines of text visible at any one time that can prove useful when writing an SMS or email. The downside to this is that due to the 'typing' via the wheel it may take you half an hour to fill the screen. Telephone numbers are also entered via the wheel. By touching the middle of the screen when it's in idle mode a traditional dial will be displayed on the screen and then by turning the wheel you are able to dial your number. As with typing text, this function can prove tedious.

With its HSDPA capabilities, browsing the web is a joy. The screen allows large quantity of web content to be displayed at any one time and what's more pages can be scrolled down by touching the right hand side of the screen or alternatively the left hand side to scroll up.

Restricted ringtones

By touching the middle of the bottom of the screen, three icons will appear which will affectively act as your three quick keys. These can be changed to the functions you use most. Very accommodating of Messer's Samsung and Bang & Olufsen. What's not so accommodating is the fact that despite being able to store up to 1,000 of your own songs your selection of ringtones is restricted to what the handset offers. Not that there's anything wrong with the variations of steel, aluminium, oak and even porcelain on offer, it just seems a little pretentious not to give you the option of selecting the Foo Fighters, Girls Aloud or even 50 Cent as your signature tune.

EarSet 3 headset

Accompanying the Serenata is the EarSet 3 stereo headset that allows thirteen hours of playback time in comparison to the five over the loud speaker. With a built-in microphone allowing you to talk handsfree, the acoustic quality of the Serenata's loudspeaker is not lost through the headset. The earphones neatly hook around the ears giving it a secure yet comfortable fit meaning that any musical leakage is at a minimum. Despite this, you are still affectively restricted by the attaching lead to the handset, so users may ultimately decide on using a Bluetooth device no matter how good the sound quality from the EarSet 3 headset is.

The Serenata can be synchronised with Outlook by connecting it via USB to your PC. However, it's worth noting that with only one USB port on the Serenata, charging the phone, listening through the EarSet 3 headset or synching Outlook must all be done separately at different times.

Verdict on the Serenata

So what to make of the Serenata? Well as a music device, it's immense. The sound quality is of the best we've seen and it's somewhat baffling to hear such crisp acoustics coming from something so mobile. As a phone it's not bad either. The lack of camera (something the iPhone incidentally does have) may put of some buyers and if not that then the whopping price tag might. What's more the click wheel, whilst fine for scrolling through tracks and alike, entering text can prove to be a frustrating experience.Perhaps it's only fair to assess the Serenata on how it bills it's self, 'a high-end music device with phone and internet capabilities' and when taking this mindset it's hard to knock its prowess.