Samsung U900

Samsung U900Another carrier branded phone, the Samsung U900 was released via Telstra in Australia to coincide with the Olympic games, and mobile content is an area the marketing is really concentrating on.

Unfortunately it’s not the best platform to enjoy it. While the U900 has some very good points which we’ll get to, you might be convinced to buy one because of the cutting edge media experience you’ll be expecting. Don’t be.

A bunch of direct shortcuts to Telstra and Bigpond music services, Foxtel and Sensis do not a media experience make. We downloaded a test music video to trial what was referred to in the marketing material as ‘superior audio fidelity and professional-sounding music reproduction’. Maybe it was the quality of the download, but it sounded like an old cassette recording being played underwater.

What’s more — as many who were sucked into buying an iPod because of the capability to play movies have discovered — watching content designed for a TV or computer monitor on a 3.5 by 4.5 centimetre screen makes for an eye-straining experience even without the bad artefacting of a heavily compressed download.

What does make the U900 worth buying is its simplicity as a phone. A compact and comfortable device to hold, it’s of the style where two plates slide away from each other to reveal the keypad on the front and the camera on the back.

Coolest though is the navigation. Under the main screen is a small 20x25mm screen we initially assumed was a clock or similar notification system. When you slide the screen away to reveal the keypad you’ll notice there’s no navigation keys among the alphanumeric keypad. That’s when the little arrows and shortcuts that come to life on the small screen. It’s a tiny navigation touchscreen, and every tap gives you a tiny buzz in response.

The main screen begins with the Telstra service shortcuts, but drill down through the menu and you can move around and select with the small touchscreen interface, an amusingly¬? futuristic way of working.

No matter what you think of Telstra they have one of the most wide reaching and fastest networks in the country. A download speed test yielded a not-quite-blazing 425kbps, but that was in the suburbs of in one of Australia’s lesser-appointed capitals. Of course, you’re unlikely to get the network maximum of 14.4Mbps no matter where you are.

And if you do have great access speeds, the ShoZu client connects you directly with your blog, Facebook account and many more social applications. Of course, if you can type any more than a single short sentence on the keypad you have far too much spare time on your hands.

Don’t fall for whatever hype you’ve heard, but the U900 makes a great phone — just little else.