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The Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH has received a new and visually pumped-up version of the UI we saw on the previous generation of Samsung touch-operated phones. Lively, colorful and pleasantly thumbable - the latest reincarnation of the TouchWiz UI has inherited all the virtues of its predecessors.
A nice improvement is that the S8300 now has three different homescreens, which you can alternate by simply pressing the numeric icons at the top right corner. This is quite convenient as it allows you to fit many more widgets on your desktop and it still doesn't make too much of a mess.
New widgets have also been added to the UI, including some rather funny ones such as 'go on a diet' or 'quit smoking' widgets. Now, don't expect miracles from either of those - they are simply counters that can help you track your progress throughout the day. No automatic alarms when you get near the refrigerator or when you reach for your lighter.
In case you have missed it for some reason, the widgets are basically mini-applications that you can use to customize your home screen. Some of the widgets are more practical such as the calendar or the world clock, while others are just for fun such as the aforementioned 'quit smoking' and 'go on a diet' widgets.
All the widgets are stored on a bar on the left which you can reveal or hide by using the small arrow in the lower left corner. You can pick which ones to display by simply dragging them onto the display and placing them where you want. If you want to remove any of them, all you need to do is drag them back to the bar.
Leaving the homescreen aside and the new menu icons graphics, the rest of the interface hasn't been greatly modified. Much like the Samsung Pixon you have a tab at the bottom of the display which holds four keys with varying functionality according to the currently selected menu. There are also some nice animations and transition effects throughout the menu.
The main menu displays as a 4 x 3 grid of icons, while sub-menus appear as lists. You can use the keys on the keypad for selecting them.
The Samsung S8300 also supports multitasking, which means that Java applications can be minimized to remain running in the background.
Despite the fact that there is a hardware keypad, the user interface also offers an on-screen QWERTY one that you can use in case you don't feel like sliding the hardware one open. To gain access to the QWERTY keypad, you just have to rotate the screen where text input is available The accelerometer kicks in and auto rotates the screen presenting you with the QWERTY thumbboard.
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 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. A well deserved pat on the back also goes to the FM radio widget as well.
Last, but certainly not least, the player is nicely touch-optimized including fast forward and rewind, just like the Pixon. This adds up to an excellent music application that can fully replace your portable MP3 player.