Samsung Galaxy Beam review: Home cinema
Gingerbread gallery and My Files
The Samsung Galaxy Beam uses the standard Android gallery. It automatically locates images and videos no matter where they are stored.
Little about the Gallery should surprise you. It displays full resolution images and supports double tap and pinch zoom. Sharing images over Bluetooth, email and MMS is enabled, and so is uploading to Picasa or using DLNA to push the image to a compatible TV.
It also gives you the ability to edit photos as well, allowing you to add various photo effects, as well as crop, rotate, zoom and adjust the brightness/contrast and saturation levels.
The My Files app is a simple to use but efficient file manager. It can move, copy, lock and rename files in bulk, and even send multiple files via Bluetooth. My Files will only browse the memory card and the large internal storage (it can't access the system drive).
The Samsung Beam uses the standard TouchWiz music player. Samsung have enabled equalizer presets (including a custom one) along with the sound-enhancing DNSe technology and 5.1 channel virtualization.
By default, tracks are sorted into four categories - All, Playlists, Albums and Artists. From the settings, you can add or remove categories to set up the music player just the way you like it.
The album art has a central place in the Now Playing interface, but you can replace it with an equalizer. You can also skip songs with a sideways swipe. There's an onscreen scrubber, as well as a volume slider.
Another nice feature allows you to quickly look up a song on YouTube or via Google search by tapping on the track title. The handset will prompt you to select whether to look up the artist, the song title or the album and whether you want to do an Internet search, search your music library or YouTube.
The Music player offers quick shortcuts to play the audio over Bluetooth or DLNA.
In this screen we also found a "Tag" button, which tries to identify the song and automatically fill in any missing ID3 tags (that's info about album, artist, etc.), but in our experience that came back with a negative result all too often. The "Lyrics" option in the settings didn't seem to do anything either.
FM radio with RDS
The Samsung Galaxy Beam is equipped with an FM radio with RDS. The interface is simple - there's a tuning dial and you can save as many as 8 stations as favorites. You can also play on the loudspeaker, but the headset still needs to be plugged in to serve as an antenna.
Video player performs well
The player on the Beam can handle the most common video files - MP4, AVI (DivX, XviD) and MKV. The most notable drawback is that it does not have support for 1080p video files, as well as no DTS and AC3 audio support.
While the video player interface itself is fairly simple, it covers the basics. You can adjust the brightness independently of the global setting and you can stream the audio over Bluetooth or use DLNA to play the video on another device.
Subtitles in various languages are supported, but you can't load them manually - the video and subtitle files must have the same name. Once loaded, you are able to adjust the text size and subtitle sync.
Audio output is good
The Samsung Galaxy Beam fared well in our audio quality test. The smartphone was nearly perfect with an active external amplifier and quite decent when a pair of headphones was plugged in.
An active external amplifier lets the Galaxy Beam show its full potential and achieve some excellent scores. It's loudness is just above average too, so we have a very solid performance here.
The degradation when headphones come into play consists of a rather big increase in stereo crosstalk, and some extra distortion. We've seen smartphones do better in this scenario, but the Beam isn't too bad either.
And here come the full results so you can see for yourselves:
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam frequency response
You can learn more about the whole testing process here.