Most of us would remember being excited to own a phone that played polyphonic ring tones, not less than a decade ago. Since then, the kind of convergence we’ve seen in technology has been nothing short of astonishing. First, phones with camera, then with the ability to connect to the internet, play songs and videos, integration of touch screen displays and so on. Now, we’ve arrived at a point where integration of technology is being taken a notch higher with Samsung unveiling a smartphone, the Samsung Beam, which comes with a built-in projector.

Design

The Samsung Beam sports an ample 4-inch screen. A thin, bright yellow strip runs along the bezel lending the smartphone a fun, young look. The back panel provides a safe, comfortable grip with its soft-rubberised, slightly rugged surface. The projector lens is lodged at the very top bezel of the smartphone and lays open. Hence, you have to take care to clean the surface every once in a while before usage as it tends to accumulate a bit of dust.

Projector

I have to admit that having a projector on your smartphone comes extremely handy. Samsung has thoughtfully dedicated a physical button for the projector on the handset. Two presses of the button launch the projector. The moment you switch on the projector, it displays the current home screen and asks you to adjust the focus and the orientation of the page first.

The projector packs in a 15 lumens lamp, the same you’d find in pico projectors the likes of 3M’s MPro 150.

If you are about to present data or a spreadsheet for which you’d require a pointer, you can enable an option called the 'Quick Pad' to access virtual pointers, pens, erasers or text by pressing a hideaway button on the right.

You can either go to your Photo Gallery or the native video player for content playback . However, most of the files we were using weren’t supported by the native Android player. You can choose files directly from the internal storage folder and start watching those. We has a couple of episodes of the sitcom ‘The Office’ lined up for the evening.

Laid on a flat surface, like a tabletop, the smartphone always got the symmetry of the projection right. Not so much, if you hold it in your hand to show off its capabilities to a bunch of friends. The quality of images projected

The bigger the digital projection was, the greater was the compromise in the contrast and brightness quality of the projection. Although the company says, the Beam can be used to project images about 50-inches wide, the size of a widescreen LED TV, but we didn’t exactly enjoy the images blown up that big because of the compromise in quality.

No surprises there, because the mobile projector is only capable of projecting images at a resolution of 480x360 pixels.

Multimedia

The Samsung Beam comes with a 5-meg camera at the rear. The snaps taken with this camera retained the colour quality of the original. Most pictures didn't turn out to be too grainy either. The camera is also equipped to shoot high-def videos at 720p at 30 frames per second.

Performance

A 2,000 mAh battery keeps the Samsung Beam running. However, we thought the battery life was not as great as we’ve seen on some of the other high-end Samsung handsets. The inbuilt memory on the smartphone is limited to 8GB but you can expand it by another 32GB through the external storage option.

The handset still runs on Android Gingerbread and is awaiting an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade.

The Samsung Beam is powered by a dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9 processor and lends the device considerable amount of smoothness.

One complaint was the fact that the handset got unusually warm whenever we had the projector on for more than 5-10 minutes. However, with the projector lamp on continuously we guess it’s natural for device to get a bit warm. It did the same when we had plugged it in to charge it up.

We say

Before we move on to whether the Samsung Beam is good value for money for its digital projector capabilities, you’ll want to know of its smartphone capabilities. Even if you didn’t use the projector, the Samsung Beam is a perfectly good smartphone in today’s market. It stand up the mid-range segment competitors well, although the only shortcoming we see is the awaited upgrade to ICS.

The Beam would be a perfect companion for those who find the need for using mobile projectors. Integrated into a smartphone, it’s a big step towards consolidating various technologies that make our life easier in the modern world.

Those who might not necessarily need the technology, but still want to get heads turning without paying a hefty price, could also give the Beam a chance.

Rs 33,000

Love - Good projector, decent camera

Hate - Average battery life, heating issues

mahananda.bohidar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 28, 2012)
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