Samsung Beat DJ in-depth review -

Look and feel

An elliptical handset housed in a funky silver and purple chassis.

Ease of use

The intuitive user interface is based around a grid-style menu for simple navigation.

Features

Although the Beat DJ falls down in terms of the app itself, it has a really excellent Bang & Olufsen audio player, A-GPS, divX and Xvid functionality.

Performance

We were expecting big things from the touch-screen given the Beat DJ's innovative approach to the technology; sadly, we were less than impressed with the lag in response.

Battery life

Battery life is above average.

The verdict

The Samsung Beat DJ aims to be innovative with its music-scratching feature, which isn't quite up to scratch. However, its other features, particularly the music player, are surprisingly good.

 Samsung Beat DJ Review -
3

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:54:54 PM

4

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

6

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Excellent audio by Bang & Olufsen, intelligently designed touches in user interface.

Cons:

Lagging touch-screen and lack of QWERTY keypad leads to flawed email and messaging.

It's a concept sure to polarise consumers - Samsung's Beat DJ is the first phone with, wait for it... a virtual turntable. Yes, you too can scratch that beat and mix it up (yo). The Beat DJ music-scratching app is probably one of the more innovative uses of touch-screen technology that we've seen, but unfortunately, it plays out more like a glitch-ridden gimmick than anything particularly revolutionary.

 

The Beat DJ has a pretty impressive specs list overall - audio by Bang & Olufsen, HSDPA data speeds up to 7.2Mbps, Wi-Fi, A-GPS and support for high-quality DivX and Xvid video - so it's curious that Samsung has decided to promote it as a funky music device, rather than a high-end media phone.

Designer touch

Aimed at the 16-25 market, the Beat DJ is the first elliptical phone we've seen for a while, housed in a modern looking silver and purple chassis. It's a full touch-screen with just three buttons - call, hang up, and back - and along its side, dedicated buttons for switching between home and music player, taking pictures, and volume control/camera zooming.

 

The 2.8-inch AMOLED display is bright and clear, and great for media viewing, albeit on the small side. It's light, but the phone still feels solid in the hand, and it vibrates gently when you tap the display. The touch-screen is capacitive - like the iPhone's - which looks to be an emerging trend. It responds to electrical signals from your fingers rather than pressure, so a series of light swipes rather than presses gets you around. Unlike the iPhone's though, the screen lags frequently. It registers taps immediately, but takes a second to recognise scrolling touches. Given that one of the phone's main selling points is its rather unique use of touch-screen technology, we expected much better from the screen itself.

So, you wanna be a DJ?

The Beat DJ app is totally unnecessary, but kind of fun. You get one turntable to scratch with - so you can't mix one song into the next - but you can select from a menu of samples to interject at timely intervals. There are also a dozen audio filters that can be added to the track with names like 'flange', which draws out a beat, or makes that 'wao wao' sound.

 

Unfortunately, the touch-screen really lets the whole application down, and the lag in response time makes it's hard to create anything approaching 'good'. The music player is excellent though. The Bang & Olufsen powered sound is terrific, with full bass and clear treble through headphones. The on-board speakers aren't great - you get tinny, crackly bass and average treble - but then, they hardly ever are. Samsung has provided an excellent set of in-ear headphones, or there's a 3.5mm audio jack along with an adaptor if you prefer to use your own. The music player user interface (UI) is straightforward, with the usual options to filter music by track name, artist, genre and album, plus there are Beat DJ and custom playlists too.

TouchWiz UI

The phone features Samsung's newish TouchWiz UI, notable for its range of widgets that you can add to the home screen. More widgets are downloadable for free directly from the Samsung site to the handset. You can have a maximum of only three running widgets on the home screen and, even then, the screen looks cluttered.The lagging touch-screen means the user experience isn't very finger friendly, but navigation is intuitive, based around a grid-style menu. Whenever you press the back button in a settings screen, the phone prompts you to save, which is a nice touch.

 

The Beat DJ is a full touch-screen phone, with no hard keyboard or keypad - instead, typing and dialling is accomplished through a soft number keypad. Yep, that's right, no QWERTY, so texting and emailing is restricted to T9-style, which is frustrating as the touch-screen isn't responsive enough for the speed of seasoned T9 typists.

The rest of it

The phone comes with Samsung's proprietary, full HTML browser, but we'd recommend you download the free and much better Opera Mini, as the Beat DJ's browser provides a pretty rudimentary browsing experience. It doesn't automatically resize pages to fit on the screen, so you have to either zoom to the appropriate size, or drag the window around
to view all areas. Along with its music phone credentials, the Beat DJ also has a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash. It's an average add-on with an auto-focus function that compensated for our shaky hands less than most, but once you've taken the picture, you can MMS, email, Bluetooth or upload it to a photo sharing site. Other cool features are its DivX/Xvid video format compatibility and nice touches like 'fake call' (press a button to have your phone ring and get you out of that boring conversation) and 'etiquette pause' (if you receive a call, turn it over to mute the ring).

Conclusion

If you can overlook the fact that Samsung has marked up the phone's 'virtual DJ' capabilities, the Beat DJ is actually a decent music phone with high-end audio specs. Unfortunately, it seems as though the innovation that went into creating the World's! First! Virtual! Turntable! Phone! came at the expense of designing a good touch-screen, and key functions like messaging and overall UI take a hit. The Beat DJ gets points for originality, but lacks the technology to back it up.