Samsung E720 review: Design and functionality
Excellent video, at last
As I explained, the new Samsung E720 features an extremely rich functional menu and could be therefore used as a working device even by experts. Yet, judging by its overall idea, I expect it to attract mostly customers, which are hungry for multimedia applications. One of the main lures of the phone is its megapixel camera.
The camera takes pictures of a not very common format - 1152 × 854 pixels. It lacks a few more pixels to reach full megapixel. I could not figure out why this Samsung model does not have the same camera as the D500 model; the latter would manage the 1.3 MP resolution and would take pictures of standard size that is 1280 × 1024 pixels. Anyway, it also works with lower resolution suitable for sending pictures as a part of a MMS.
The camera is equipped with four levels of picture quality. The exposure can be manually adjusted, unlike the color balance. Pictures are organized in a mosaic or in a sequent order (max. 15 pictures). The phone offers standard color effects, extra frames and a self-timer function. There is no night mode. Its functions are recompensed by a pair of extremely strong lighting diodes mounted next to the lens. These could be set to work either constantly, or during the picture exposing process only. They could also serve as a lamp - just close the phone and press and hold one of the volume buttons on the side of the phone.
I was slightly disappointed by the quality of the pictures. Although they stand the overall test when confronted with the rest of the megapixel photo mobiles, they are somewhat veiled and their noise level is much too high, which abases them a lot. The sharpness of the details is satisfactory; the camera had difficulties mainly with close views and turned out to be relatively vulnerable to overexposure.
Sample pictures (in full resolution):
Exposure compensation without corrections • darkening to prevent the back wall from getting overexposed (here the phone did not manage the white balance) • positive exposure compensation to prevent the front wall from being too dark
The camera has a digital zoom, which keeps the picture format; with regard to the software pixel countdown, however, the quality of the final result is rather low. Zooming has 10 stages. Each span is accompanied by a sound effect which slightly resembles the sound given out by the translocation motor of a normal camera. The self-timer is also marked with a sound, which is possible to change or completely deactivate.
Samsung is very good at working with videos. It shoots videos in a 352 × 288 resolution with no duration limits, but the ones set by the capacity of the free memory. There is an optional lower resolution of 176 × 144 pixels and a setup, which limits the video files sent in a MMS. Both video records and soundtracks are saved in a MPEG4 format with the sound being caught by the microphone mounted on the front cover of the phone. Feel free to use zooming while shooting.
I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the video records. They are the best records shot by a mobile phone I have ever seen. The picture is big and fluent - unlike the ones I know from other photo mobiles; what's more, it looks good on the computer screen. I have prepared two video samples to demonstrate my words:
(You need QuickTime player to open these files)
Music in your pocket
The front cover is equipped with three keys which serve the built-in MP3 player; the phone acts as a real substitute for a standard music player with flash memory. And it is the memory that is one of the weakest points of the new Samsung model, for it has only 80 MB, which is much too little. It may be enough for a standard album of common quality, but let's not forget that phone's memory space is also shared by other applications - like pictures, for example. Some additional support for the memory cards could come in handy.
The phone's music player alone is very simple. Set the files you want to play into the playlist and press start. While in a process of listening, you can pause playing, stop it completely, or skip an entry forwards or backwards. The player's menu offers song repeating, playlist shuffling and a simple equalizer with four preinstalled modes. There is also an additional 3D effect, which modifies the sound in an extremely unnatural way. The player has three color schemes to choose from.
Various styles of the MP3 player
The player does not run on background, so you won't be able to write a message and listen to music simultaneously, for example. Anyway, I suppose you will hardly ever use the MP3 player when the phone is open. It is much easier to press and hold the central button on the front cover. The keys placed next to it serve for switching songs. Volume is controlled through the buttons mounted on the side of the phone. Be sure to press these repeatedly for holding them will light up the diodes of the camera. When you start the player, its menu shows on the outside display, but disappears shortly afterwards. Therefore you will not be able to check the title which is being currently played. An accidental pressing of a button does not light up the display. The only way to do this is to stop the player or detach the earphones from the connector.
The earphones delivered with the phone are relatively good, despite the lack of certain bass elements. They also serve as a light handsfree set; there is a microphone and a call receiver button, both placed on the cable. If somebody calls you while listening, the playing stops and the phone starts ringing in its usual manner. If you have not plugged the earphones, the phone plays loudly through the speaker.
If you feel like using the MP3 player more often, get yourself a data cable, because downloading files through Bluetooth takes quite a long time.