Samsung Galaxy Beam review: Home cinema
At the end of our review, it's perhaps fitting to return to the highlight of the Samsung Galaxy Beam - the projector. We found its performance pretty good for the casual media sharing, though the low brightness and the uninspiring resolution hardly make it a great work tool. It's pretty clear that the I8530 Beam was aimed at youngsters rather than professionals and that seems like the more reasonable approach.
The projector alone is enough to put the new Galaxy Beam in a niche of its own and it's really hard to compare it to any other devices on the market. So what we need to find instead is how much does the projector cost you and if it's worth it. Fortunately, we have a very fitting device that we can use for comparison: the Samsung Galaxy S Advance released this past April.
The S Advance has specs which are virtually identical to the Samsung Galaxy Beam - from the 480 x 800 4-inch screen though the 5MP camera all the way down to the dual-core CPU and GPU. Besides the projector, the only thing that the Beam offers which is superior is the 2000 mAh battery, compared to the 1500 mAh one found on the S Advance.
Currently, the Samsung Galaxy Beam retails for about €425, while the S Advance can be had for about €300, and offers a Super AMOLED screen to sweeten up the deal even further. Even the 16GB S Advance version with NFC connectivity still costs significantly cheaper than the Beam. So, it seems that the projector will currently run a little under €100, after you subtract the cost of the extra accessories Samsung has thrown in the Beam retail package.
Whether or not you should pay the premium depends on how often you plan to use the projector. It seems that you need to be really addicted to sharing multimedia with your buddies or need something to replace your TV to justify the difference. You shouldn't also forget that you only use the projector from time to time, but you carry a heavier and thicker device all the time.
If you've come to this review simply because the Galaxy Beam is one of the smartphones that fits your "next smartphone" budget and the projector is not a must-have, then you should know that there are plenty of devices with more firepower that cost about the same.
Currently, the HTC One S retails for around €420, and offers a far more interesting specs sheet. The larger, 4.3 inch screen has a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels, and is covered with Gorilla Glass to boot. There's also a far better chipset inside, twice the internal storage of the Beam, a higher-res camera and...well, you probably get the picture by now.
Alternatively you may opt to get the same performance as the Galaxy Beam at a much lower price point and choose to spend the difference on apps or accessories. Sony offers a few devices which can provide the same (projector-less) functionality as the Beam, and will go easy on your wallet as well. The Xperia P's screen size matches that of the Beam, and boasts a higher resolution. There's a metal body, a higher-res 8MP camera capable of 1080p recording, and 13 GB of user-available storage space as well (although there's no microSD). Most importantly, the Xperia P is available for only about €320.
All of our above recommendations show that there are much better buys out there than the Samsung Galaxy Beam, but there's a catch: you have to be willing to live without the projector. And if aren't you really don't have much choice.
Samsung is targeting a niche market with the release of the Beam, and as such faces no real competition. That being said, should you buy the Galaxy Beam for its projection capabilities? Given that purchasing a separate projector will be even more expensive than getting the Beam we'd probably say yes. But if you can, you might want to hold off a bit. Odds are the price will fall to more reasonable levels once the Galaxy Beam has been on the market for a few months and you might be able to get a much sweeter deal.