Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH review: Touch, slide, shoot
Gallery excels with the accelerometer
Once again in the Samsung S8300 we have a few different picture galleries. Accessed from different parts of the menu they are optimized for touch operation and are reasonably user-friendly. The first is an inherent part of the file manager and accessing it is as simple as opening any folder that contains images.
Once you open a picture to view, you can sweep you fingers across the screen to see the next image without having to return to the image list. The sweeping is responsive and relatively fluid, but not as well implemented as on the Pixon.
The alternative to the picture gallery is PhotoBrowser. It has a dedicated icon in the main menu and is the quickest way to access you images. Sorting by face is not available.
The galleries also have slideshows and a nice accelerometer-based feature. It lets you browse pictures in fullscreen landscape mode by simply tilting your phone on its side (plus, of course, you get automatic rotation of the photos by changing the device orientation). The accelerometer also allows you to tilt the phone and the pictures will "slide" to the side, which may be an efficient way of scrolling but more than often can get on your nerves. We would have preferred that there's an option for turning that feature off.
Music player provides lots of bang for the buck
The music player of the Samsung S8300 hasn't been greatly altered from the M8800 Pixon. Some additional visual effects have been added but that's as far as the changes go.
It allows filtering tracks by author, album, and genre. Automatic playlists (recently added, most played etc.) are also generated and can subsequently be used as filters. If that doesn't seem enough, you can create your own custom playlists. The music player can naturally be minimized to play in the background.
The new option here is the '5.1 ch' button which, when activated, makes the player do its best to emulate 5.1 channel sound on normal stereo headphones. This has quite an impact even on sound source that's stereo in its essence. There are quite a few equalizer presets available, but sadly, there's no option to set up a custom equalizer.
The music player widget is cool, allowing quick access to the full version of the application by only a single tap. You can also start, stop and alternate tracks straight from the home screen if you prefer.
Last, but certainly not least, the player is nicely touch-optimized for fast forward and rewind, just like the Pixon. This adds up to an excellent music application that can fully replace your portable MP3 player.
FM radio finds and records music
The Samsung S8300 features an FM radio with RDS. It displays the station name on one row and the additional information on the other. Furthermore, the Samsung S8300 radio offers intuitive controls and it even has an integrated music recognition feature called Find Music, which works much like Sony Ericsson's TrackID.
There's an option to record radio broadcasts as well.
The radio app is in the Applications menu but the Radio widget on the home screen gives you more immediate access. Tapping it brings up the radio or you could just use the widget's controls to start/stop the radio or change the station. It can only change between saved stations though, and if you want to search you'll have to do it through the the application.
Speaking of stations, you can save stations but they are labeled by just their frequency and you can't rename them. There's a separate list for your favorite stations.
Video Player - DivX FTW!
The video player is another noteworthy application. It has a nice touch-optimized interface and all the essentials are covered. It can play video files in fullscreen landscape mode (auto-rotated of course) and you can fast-forward and rewind videos in the same way as the music player.
The Samsung S8300 has no problem playing VGA or even 720x480 videos at 30 fps. Not a great surprise but worth noting since compressing videos to view on mobile devices can be a time-consuming business.
The Samsung S8300 has support for DivX and XviD videos. Out of the randomly downloaded videos we tried, the playback of only one video clip failed, so we guess the S8300 fares better than your average (though LG Renoir played them all).