Friday, July 1, 2011

Samsung Infuse 4G: Screen is Made for Multimedia

By Terrence Russell,
Samsung Infuse 4G
Photo: Jim Merithew
This phone was made to be seen.
No, really. The Samsung Infuse 4G’s huge 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen not only looks great, but practically begs for video playback.
Of course, that raises the question: Is that enough to differentiate the Infuse from Android’s numerous oversized offerings? For the most part, yes.
Samsung has packed this lithe handset with pretty much everything necessary for delivering entertainment on the go. Front and center is its spacious, yet ever-so pixel-challenged 800 x 480 display, a 1.3-megapixel forward-facing camera (with an 8-MP heavy hitter on the rear), and a row of capacitive Android navigation keys.
Inside its slinky 0.35-inch frame is a 4G data radio, and a beefy 1,750-milliampere-hour battery and a 1.2-GHz processor. The processor is powerful, but only single-core. I was surprised by this — Android phone manufacturers are rapidly switching to dual-core processors, as the beefier chips are a marquee differentiating feature in a crowded market. And while this phone doesn’t have a dual-core chip, it had more than enough guts for my typicalsmartphone needs. E-mailing, task management, light calling and even heavy app and web use was reasonably smooth within the phones somewhat outdated Android 2.2 Froyo OS. In fact, once I got over the pocket-stretching size of the device, the multimedia-minded battery made the Infuse a solid performer for marathon productivity sessions.
However, the real fun of the Infuse lies in goofing off.
Bloatware is rarely worth celebrating, but the video-centric apps that ship on the handset aren’t a complete waste. AT&T’s U-Verse app brought both live TV and on-demand downloads of favorite series like Parks and Recreation, while Samsung’s movie rental store and the generic video player supplied access to feature-length content.
It’s worth noting that none of these options are exactly free (save for the video player, which let me play my ripped movies). Despite that predictable hitch, the Infuse mostly handled playback like a champ. Streaming live TV over the 4G connection produced the occasional hiccup, but pretty much anything I downloaded locally played back flawlessly on the device.
An integrated kickstand or dock would’ve helped for longer viewing sessions, but that’s a minor gripe for a phone that actually has the muscle and endurance to rain down serious flickage at a moment’s notice. And that screen! It’s gorgeous.
Is this enough to dethrone hulking competitors like the Droid X2? Probably. Though we’ve all seen a lot of the Infuse’s individual elements before, it’s rare that they’re packed into such a single cohesive package. Even the mildly girth-conscious will likely balk at the size, but it’s hard to take issue with a handset infused with this much win.
Form+Function+Fun. Oversized touchscreen is great for flicks. Fantastic battery life regardless of use patterns. Preternaturally light at 4.5 ounces. Ships with a $25 voucher for movie rentals. Great photos (8MP) decent video (720p).
Speaker is fine for calls, anemic for movies. Plastic chassis and volume rocker are pure chintz. Getting video onto a TV is dongle-reliant. All this downloadable video sweetness ships with a tiny 2GB card.

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