Samsung Pixon M8800 in-depth review -

Look and feel

Chunkiness is certainly not a criticism you can level at the new Samsung Pixon M8800, which can currently lay claim to the title of being the world’s slimmest eight-megapixel touch-screen phone.

 

And you can believe the hype. This is a truly slimline device and, although it weighs in without much of the bulk of the i8510, it seems to have lost nothing in terms of its photographic prowess.


Ease of use


You can navigate the phone’s menu using the 12 coloured icons which make up the regular screen or via the customisable ‘widget’ interface – also found on the Tocco - which lets you drag and drop applications like Google search and Accu Weather from a dock on the side of the screen.


The widgets menu is well conceived and well executed and gives you a really good feel for the phone’s touch-screen capabilities, which are undeniably impressive. However, while widgets are fun, for most of the functionality we found ourselves using the main menu screen, which is right up there with the iPhone in terms of usability.

 

Features 


Reeling through the list of camera-related specs, you get: auto focus, a dual power LED flash, advanced shake reduction (ASR), wide dynamic range (WDR), face detection, smile shot, face tagging, geo-tagging, panorama shot, macro mode, an accelerometer, plus the ability to sort photos by face, time and colour.


Further boosting the Pixon’s camera credentials is the handset’s striking 3.2-inch touch-sensitive viewfinder.

    

Performance  


Fortunately, the Samsung Pixon possesses a very responsive touch-screen and works well whether you are selecting a menu icon, tapping in a number on the virtual keypad or scrolling through a page by swiping the screen. The device does come with a stylus in the box, but we didn’t really bother with it. Text messages take a little longer to write than they do with a mechanised keypad but everything else is a doddle and it helps having the three mechanised keys at the bottom of the phone as a back up, especially the central key, which enables you to return to the previous page.   

 

Battery

 

 

With a talktime of up to 220 minutes and a standby time of up to 290 hrs the Pixon does not dissappoint.

 

 Samsung Pixon M8800 Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:53:19 PM

10

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

10

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

A fabulously well-endowed device that also happens to be a record-breaking slim touch-screen with an eight-megapixel camera.

Cons:

The stitching in panorama mode was a little jagged and face detection only works on close-ups.

Until this year, Samsung’s camera phones were never truly recognised as being world beaters.


They always looked great and came loaded with plenty of megapixels, but it was usually the flagship devices from Sony Ericsson and Nokia that stole the plaudits for their market-leading photographic capabilities.


Then along came the Samsung i8510, which was named ‘Best Camera Phone’ at the Mobile Choice Awards 2008, wowing the judges (including a professional photographer) with its state-of-the-art features, field-beating picture quality and eight-megapixel image resolution. The i8510 was a tremendous camera phone and a great all-rounder, but if we were being really picky, we could argue that the slider phone was also a touch on the chunky side.


Chunkiness is certainly not a criticism you can level at the new Samsung Pixon M8800, which can currently lay claim to the title of being the world’s slimmest eight-megapixel touch-screen phone.


And you can believe the hype. This is a truly slimline device and, although it weighs in without much of the bulk of the i8510, it seems to have lost nothing in terms of its photographic prowess.

 

Samsung Pixon M8800 - Camera features


In addition to the eight-megapixel image resolution, the Pixon serves up a truly impressive selection of camera features.


Reeling through the list of camera-related specs, you get: auto focus, a dual power LED flash, advanced shake reduction (ASR), wide dynamic range (WDR), face detection, smile shot, face tagging, geo-tagging, panorama shot, macro mode, an accelerometer, plus the ability to sort photos by face, time and colour.


Further boosting the Pixon’s camera credentials is the handset’s striking 3.2-inch touch-sensitive viewfinder.


Touch-screen technology really comes into its own with camera functionality, because you can see and select any of the controls with a couple of clicks. It is a feature we are beginning to see more of on dedicated digital cameras but Samsung Pixon’s viewfinder is up there with the very best.


The Pixon’s foolproof settings ensure that it is quite difficult to take a bad photo. Advanced shake reduction compensates for those of us who have trouble keeping the camera steady, auto focus helps further improve the odds on a blurry shot and a multitude of scene settings including portrait, landscape, night, sport, party/indoor, beach and snow, help you simply programme the to automatically compensate for conditions. Meanwhile, the dual LED flash appears to be one of the most proficient we have encountered on any camera phone. Strangely though, we found that the immediate shot preview suggests that the flash has failed to ignite. However, when you look at the photos in the gallery, the results are first rate and you don’t get the rabbit in the headlight effect you sometimes get with Xenon flash.

 

Samsung Pixon M8800 - Camera blips and hits


There are a couple of little blips. Face detection mode only appears to work if you focus on a subject a few feet away. And, although panorama mode appears to be foolproof (the camera is set to automatically take the photo when you have correctly aligned each shot in the sequence) we found that when we viewed the complete panoramic image, the stitching together was a little disappointing.


However, smile shot and face detection are quirky features that hit the spot and we also really like the face link feature which lets you add a mugshot photo to a contact with just a couple of clicks.


Meanwhile, as the phone has a built-in GPS receiver, it is possible to geo-tag photos, meaning that the shooting coordinates for every photo taken are automatically stored.


For example, let’s say you come across a great pub in a sleepy village way out in the sticks. If you switch on the geo-tagging setting and take a photo of the pub as you leave, the geographical coordinates are stored with the photo, enabling you to easily locate it in the future.


Touch-screen interface


Aesthetically at least, the Samsung Pixon has a lot in common with Samsung’s hugely popular F480 Tocco. Both devices are similar in size and, therefore, a good deal more compact than competitor touch-screen handsets.


Both sport a touch-sensitive display together with three mechanised keys at the bottom of the fascia and both phones offer a choice of user interface.

 

You can navigate the phone’s menu using the 12 coloured icons which make up the regular screen or via the customisable ‘widget’ interface – also found on the Tocco - which lets you drag and drop applications like Google search and Accu Weather from a dock on the side of the screen.


The widgets menu is well conceived and well executed and gives you a really good feel for the phone’s touch-screen capabilities, which are undeniably impressive. However, while widgets are fun, for most of the functionality we found ourselves using the main menu screen, which is right up there with the iPhone in terms of usability.


The UI is beautifully simple, with a main menu of 12 icons and a sub-menu sitting behind each icon, so every conceivable menu application is accessible within two clicks from the home screen.


The screen is also very well calibrated (a criticism of the Samsung Omnia and the LG Renoir) and very responsive.


Easy touch

Mobile users are still getting their heads and fingers around touch-screen devices and many appear unsure as to the necessary finger pressure required to interact successfully with the screen. This is partly down to the fact that manufacturers of the early touch-screen phones were so hell-bent on enabling swipes and strokes that they forgot about basics like producing a touch-screen display that responded well to simple screen presses.


Fortunately, the Samsung Pixon possesses a very responsive touch-screen and works well whether you are selecting a menu icon, tapping in a number on the virtual keypad or scrolling through a page by swiping the screen. The device does come with a stylus in the box, but we didn’t really bother with it. Text messages take a little longer to write than they do with a mechanised keypad but everything else is a doddle and it helps having the three mechanised keys at the bottom of the phone as a back up, especially the central key, which enables you to return to the previous page.


The other chief advantage of touch-centric devices is the fact that the large displays tend to excel at multimedia activities like photo and video views and web browsing.


This is certainly the case with the Pixon, which has an excellent display and the built-in accelerometer means you can auto rotate images between landscape and portrait and also, rather cunningly, you can move left and right through a photo slideshow by tilting the phone one way or the other.


Multimedia functionality


Aside from photos, videos and web browsing, most of the Pixon’s fun functionality can be found under the Applications menu.


Live Pix is a novelty - albeit it one with teen appeal - that lets you doodle with your finger or stylus on a blank screen using virtual pens, stamps and even photos to create basic sketches and collages. Once you have created your masterpiece, you can then select preview and the Pixon will play back a little video which cleverly takes you through the complete artistic process from start to finish.


There is also a neat video editor application which lets you upload your latest home videos and then trim, copy, cut or splice them, as well as adding an audio track.


Meanwhile, under the ‘games and more’ sub menu, you will find the excellent Google Maps, as well as a heap of top-notch games that are free to trial, but will cost to download the full version.


Our favourite is the addictive Millionaire 3, which cost about a fiver to download over the air and serves up an authentic mobile version of Christ Tarrant’s popular gameshow, complete with ‘ask the audience’, ‘50:50’ and ‘phone a friend’ (take note that the available friends aren’t real people, but virtual characters with their own specialist areas of knowledge).

 

Overall verdict

 


The Samsung Pixon excels at pretty much everything it does, from photo taking to web browsing and it is also easy to use, with a touch-screen interface that is refreshingly clear, intuitive and well thought out.


A week’s rigorous testing suggests that the touch display is responsive and enjoyable to interact with and is probably the first that really competes favourably with the iPhone on virtually every level. That said, it would be good if you could pinch and flick photos and web pages to zoom in and out while browsing.


At a time when the top manufacturers are producing premium handsets loaded with applications, the Pixon continues the tradition with an excellent feature set.


Based on current market expectations, it has everything you could really want from a phone, aside from the large built-in storage capacity - although you do get an expandable memory slot and the device ships with a 1GB card.


Put it this way, the Tocco may have been a huge hit for Samsung but the Pixon is in a different league.