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Samsung i8510 INNOV8
The integration of a digital camera with a mobile handset is obviously not a new concept but we’ve been stuck with 5 megapixel cameras for quite a while now, so I think it’s about time the tech ante was upped a bit. LG and Samsung are running neck and neck with their 8MP camera phones, but Samsung managed to get to us first with their i8510 INNOV8, and here’s what I have to say.
There’s no denying the INNOV8 is a good-looking handset, with its large 2.8 inch (240 x 320) TFT display and optical joystick that also works well as a fifth key in the nav-pad. There are some strategically located shortcut keys for all purposes. On one side is a slider switch that allows you to swap between video mode, normal camera, and the gallery. The microSD card slot (in addition to the 16GB of onboard space) is located just below that, followed by a dedicated camera key.
The volume/zoom keys, 3.5mm earphone socket, and microUSB port for the charger and USB cable are located on the other side. The auto kick slider is extremely smooth and very responsive. The keypad is large and easy to use – ALL keys, including the top row. Flipping over to the camera, the rear of the handset looks like a compact digicam more than a cell phone. What’s disappointing is that the INNOV8 is equipped with an LED flash instead of Xenon.
Features and Performance
Interface and Navigation
The INNOV8 is yet another instance of Samsung adopting the more popular Symbian Operating System (v9.3) and a Series 60 (rel. 3.2) UI. This will make a switch from Nokia a piece of cake. Although the icons are similar, there are subtle variation. Still, everything will have a familiar look and feel.
Navigation with the optical joystick is convenient. Its sensitivity can be adjusted to your preference. It can also be shut off if you prefer the conventional five-way nav-pad as is. One odd thing about the handset is that if you cut a call it will still show up as a missed call
Business Features and Tools
The INNOV8 offers a certain amount of business functionality, typical of any handset that runs on Symbian S60. Aside from mundane office functions like the calendar, clock, notes and calculator, the INNOV8 also comes with QuickOffice that allows you to view and edit MS Office files. There’s also a PDF reader, Zip application and a dictionary.
What's really handy is the Smart Reader application that utilizes the camera very efficiently to capture business card information and text from documents, and stores it in an editable format. A Bluetooth printer option is also available.
Samsung has included an Etiquette option that I understood will silence all incoming calls if I simply flip the phone over on its face. The funny thing is that the handset will pause the audio player when flipped over, and not incoming calls. What the..? I’m not sure how etiquette applies for music.
Another aspect that the INNOV8 is well equipped for is connectivity. The handset supports everything from the standard USB 2.0 to Bluetooth with A2DP and Wi-Fi that is DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) certified. The browser is no different from a Nokia’s. The accelerometer is handy when you’d rather view the page in landscape. The browser does not support flash too well, so if a webpage contains any flash animation it’s quite likely you won't be able to view it.
Unlike some of the other higher-end handsets that offer the facility of automatically setting up your email accounts with minimal input form you, the INNOV8 offers a wizard that requires you to manually input all the relevant details. It’s not difficult, but you will need to consult the net for details such as port numbers if you happen to be a novice. Nothing you can’t work around though.
There is a dedicated folder for Google applications like Gmail (not Gmail for Mobile but a link to the online version), Google Search, and Google Maps. Yahoo! Go is preloaded and so is ShoZu and a CNN newsfeed. All this can anyway be installed easily on any Series 60 handset.
Using Route 66 as its navigation guide, the INNOV8’s on-board GPS works decently. It does take a little while to locate a satellite signal, even with A-GPS support. The software is quite good, with plenty of options to choose from for easy traveling. If you’re thinking Nokia Maps just might work, it doesn’t. But with Google Maps and Route 66 you just can’t get lost. Geotagging helps add GPS data on to your images, so you’ll always know where you saw what.
Although the INNOV8 has the standard S60 music player, it's definitely one of the better ones. The volume is loud and clear even in noisy environments. The earphones are the same set I used with the Omnia, so I didn’t find them comfy. The microphone adapter with the volume option and 3.5mm earphone comes in handy, or you can simply opt to use your own earphones and the handset’s microphone. The EQ presets are Samsung customized, with 3D options that include Dynamic, Surround and Wide. On the whole the player was superb.
The FM radio works well, with decent reception in commutes. It has an option for recording OTA. What I didn’t like was that it had no auto tune and save feature. Skipping from one station to another is easy, but you’d have to manually save each station and store the name if you know it. Visual radio would have been helpful here.
Samsung’s Digital Frame application is also preloaded, but the absence of a stand of any kind renders it useless to an extent. But if you can find a way to prop it up you can view images in a slideshow, with audio playing in the background and a clock displayed onscreen. It will also display icons for missed calls and messages etc.
One of the most important things I take into account when it comes to multimedia handsets is the video player. Being a vidiot I’m partial to handsets that have large displays, as they make watching videos easier. The INNOV8 delivers quite well, considering it has a 2.8 inch display. Now the thing is that the handset comes with DivX and XviD video format support, but unlike the Omnia’s copy-paste method, you will have to convert files with the bundled DivX converter in order to watch them.
The converter takes a while to analyze and convert each video, which poses a bit of a problem – once again you might wonder why you’re paying so much. True, there may be legitimate reasons why the company hasn’t provided all the available codecs; we understand the technological constraints and the diverse nature of DivX files. But for this kind of money shouldn’t things be a lot simpler? The audio levels in videos are unfortunately nowhere as loud as normal music files. If you can’t find a way to convert your files and increase the audio bit rate, it’s not going to be easy to hear.
The video editor application included is plenty of fun to play around with and offers users a chance to create videos from images and even a storyboard option for editing and splicing videos and images.
There are a couple of preinstalled games like Asphalt 4 and FIFA 08 that will help you while away those boring times. The games look really good, with 3D effects, and are quite entertaining.
The most important aspect of the INNOV8 is its 8 megapixel auto-focus camera. It’s feature-rich and has plenty of settings. The various shoot modes include an easy-to-use, auto-stitch Panorama, Smile, Blink and Face Detection with a built-in image stabilizer, and Wide Dynamic range. The self timer mode has up to a 10-second delay. An image editing mode is available for spicing images and adjusting colors, tones, brightness etc.
Images taken with no specific settings in normal lighting conditions look quite good, and colors were vibrant and quite clear.
Macro mode is also great, as the level of detail you’ll get is evident. Better still, you’ll get a clear picture even 1.5cm away from the subject.
With Night Mode active, the amount of noise present in the images is quite evident, but for a mobile phone camera the images are still quite good, all things considered.
Even normal daylight images are pretty good, but images in low light do seem a bit off with focus in certain areas.
The Smile detection feature automatically releases the shutter and captures the subject as soon it detects what the on-board computer assumes to be a smile. This system will also work with existing images on your PC or normal snapshots on brochures etc.
The battery life of the INNOV8 is a tad above average. With ordinary use you’ll easily get two days of usage. Standalone talktime is about 3 hours and 25 minutes, which is not too bad.
With a price tag of Rs 46,000 you tend to wonder why is it so expensive. Is it because you’re paying for a sophisticated 8MP camera? Heck NO!
Let’s think about it for a second – it has a great audio player, a not-so-great video player (where audio is concerned), and while its DivX and XviD compatible files need to be converted, the company has included a converter. The camera is feature-rich and images look quite good. Let’s not forget the whopping 32GB of space (16GB internal 16GB card that’s included). The phone will not run slow enough for you to complain if the memory is a bit full.
That said, 46 grand is just too darn much, even for a good phone. If I’m paying so much for a handset, I'd expect to sit back and have it serve me breakfast. Great phone, Samsung, but definitely not worth such a high price. If it cost a more reasonable figure I'd have easily said... N96, look out!
Samsung i8510 INNOV8
GSM 850/900/1800/1900, EDGE, 3G
|Physical||106.5 x 53.9 x 17mm, 140g|
|Display||240 x 320, 16m colors, TFT LCD, 2.8 inch |
|Memory||16GB internal, 16GB MicroSD for external (included) |
|Media||AAC+, MP3, 3GP, DivX, XviD, WMV, Voice Recorder, FM radio, Video editor|
|Camera||8 megapixel, auto-focus, Face/Smile/Blink detection, anti-shake, LED flash, secondary camera for video calling, Biz card/Document reader |
|Connectivity||USB v2.0, Bluetooth with A2DP, Wi-Fi, GPS |
|Battery||300 hrs standby, 3 hrs 25 mins talktime |
|MRP||Rs 46,000 (for 32GB)|