Samsung SCH-A930 Review| By Allen Tsai
As the latest music phone to be released for Verizon Wireless, the Samsung SCH-A930 goes against popular trends, offering an alternative to the ultra-thin devices sweeping the marketplace.
Integrated with Verizon Wireless' VCAST Music online service, customers can browse, preview, download, and play high-quality digital music directly on the A930. With dual stereo speakers, removable memory, and dedicated music playback keys, the A930 gives users a complete music experience.
Consumers can also view video clips through VCAST Video, offering entertainment, news, sports and more in one portable and compact handheld. For capturing unexpected moments, an integrated 1.3-megapixel digital camera and camcorder captures still images or video clips to send and share with family and friends over EV-DO high-speed broadband connectivity. The A930 also supports Bluetooth profiles for headsets, dial-up networking, serial ports, and various handsfree accessories.
Providing functional multimedia in a trendy design, the A930 gives consumers a stylish device for audio and video entertainment on the road.
Lead by the Motorola RAZR, ultra-slim devices have dominated the mobile industry the past year. Measuring a reasonable 91 x 48 x 25 mm and weighing 113 g, the A930 goes against popular trends with its considerably thicker design. In a marketplace where handhelds try to emulate popular fads, the A930 is a refreshing change, diverging from a world of slim handhelds.
Giving off an industrial feel, the strong angles and pure black exterior embeds a narrow vertical external screen. Meant to be held sideways, the LCD is more stylish than functional; adding an aesthetic element to the design for a monochrome view of commonly glanced at information.
Below the elongated screen, Rewind, Play / Pause, and Fast Forward buttons control the built-in MP3 player, while above, a rotating 1.3-megapixel camera with flash is positioned on the hinge captures photos up to 1280 x 960 px in resolution. Dual speaker ports on to bottom corners give users an open-air listening experience.
Volume Keys along the left adjust earpiece and tone levels during calls and standby, while a dedicated Speakerphone Key nearby activates handsfree access. On the right, a 2.5 mm Headset Jack is positioned next to a microSD expansion slot, able to accept memory cards up to 1 GB in size. The Power / Accessory Connector Port is located on the bottom.
Flipping open the A930 reveals the internal screen. Ideal for watching streaming videos, the vibrant 262K-color LCD displays clips at a large 176 x 220 px resolution. Below, a 5-Way Keypad doubles as shortcuts to the Mobile Web (Up), Calendar (Down), Get Pix and Flix (Left), and Get It Now (Right) online services. Surrounding the kyepad, dedicated Camera / Camcorder, Voice Recognition, Send, Clear, End, and Left and Right Shortcut Keys offer additional convenience for quick navigation.
Out of the box, the Samsung SCH-A930 comes with a Standard 1000 mAh Li-Ion Battery, Travel Charger, Welcome CD, Quick Reference Guide, and User Manual.
Pressing the dedicated Camera Key activates the built-in 1.3-megapixel camera, able to capture photos at 1280 x 960 px in resolution. The Directional Keypad adjusts Brightness Level (-4 to +4) and Digital Zoom (10 Steps), however Zoom is not available at the highest resolution. Other sizes include VGA (640 x 480 px), QVGA (320 x 240 px), QQVGA (160 x 120 px), and Picture ID.
The placement of the rotating lens on the hinge gives users added versatility when taking photos. Able to move from front to back in an upwards 180-degree range, users can snap self-portraits and group photos by simply turning the lens with the thumb. Unfortunately the external LCD is unable to function as a viewfinder. So when flipped open, the lens is blocked by the top and bottom halves of the A930; only unobstructed when pointed to the front or back.
The A930 also bundles features commonly found in other camera phones such as Flash (Off, Always On, Auto, and On This Shot), Self-Timer (Off, 2 Sec, 5 Sec, and 10 Sec), Quality (Fine, Normal, and Economy), White Balance (Auto, Sunny, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, and Manual), Color Effects (Normal, Black and White, Sepia, Antique, Negative, Green, Aqua, Cool, Warm, and Sketch).
But advanced options only normally found on standalone digital cameras are available on the A930 as well, such as Multi-Shot (Series Shot, Divided Shot, Auto, and Manual) and Metering (Average, Center, and Spot).
With Series Shot, the A930 can quickly capture action without missing a beat, quickly snapping 3 or 5 photos in a row at QVGA (320 x 240 px) resolution. Divided Shot lets users piece together 4 or 9 photos for a large scenic panoramic view, taken at VGA (640 x 480 px) resolution.
Metering refers to the way the A930 determines the correct exposure. Average Metering uses light information coming from the entire scene, Center Metering views light from the center, and Spot Metering takes a tiny spot of the scene into account when calculating the exposure.
Compared to other handhelds on the market, the A930's 1.3-megapixel camera is average, much better than prior generation VGA cameras, but still trailing cutting edge 2.0- and 3.2-megapixel pioneers. The bundled image correction filters and camera options are useful, and at 1280 x 960 px, photos are large enough for adequate print, letting consumers leave the digital camera at home.
Also able to capture video in Camcorder Mode, the A930 records clips up to 15 seconds (Limit for MMS) or 10 minutes (Normal Length). Camera functions such as Flash, Color Effects, Quality, and White Balance can be applied to the Camcorder, but videos are far too grainy and low quality for actual usage.
Released for Verizon Wireless, the dual-band A930 operates on CDMA 800 / 1900 frequencies nationwide. However, lacking analog support, customers in rural areas may want to double check digital coverage.
The original Samsung user interface has been replaced with a preconfigured Verizon-branded menu. Commonly found on other devices in their network, the A930 exhibits an overly simplistic layout, with limited options for the bare essentials in usability. While ideal for consumers who prefer a simple easy-to-use menu, advanced functions are absent.
Miscellaneous features include Standalone Mode (RF Off) for operation in environments where radio frequencies may interfere such as airplanes or hospitals, TTY/TDD support and hearing aid compatible (M3-Rating) for the hearing impaired, and English and Spanish language options.
Samsung rated the A930's 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery at 4.0 and 210 hours (8.75 days) of talk and standby times respectively. However, these times are under optimal conditions. Handset manufacturers and carriers often list talk and standby time ratings with disclaimers about variable performance and often refer to the times they publish as maximum times. Actual times will vary.
The A930's 176 x 16 px external screen illuminates to show greenish-blue 4-color text. Manufactured from OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) technology, the LCD doesn't require backlighting to function, conserving more power over than traditional displays. However, being less vibrant as well, the screen can be quite difficult to read in direct sunlight.
The external screen's vertical design (horizontal view), while stylish, is an added inconvenience. Requiring consumers to adjust from the more traditional rectangular format, the A930's narrow screen provides a cramped view of frequented information such as battery charge level, signal strength, date, and time.
Conversely, the 176 x 220 px internal screen is large and colorful. Built from TFT (Thin Film Transistor) technology, the LCD displays 262K-colors brilliantly, providing an ideal canvas for watching streaming videos, but consuming a significant amount of power.
Offering an ideal blend of imaging and battery life, both OLED and TFT displays give consumers the best of both worlds. Since users frequently glance at static information on the external screen, OLED is logical to prolong battery life without sacrificing much on imaging. Meanwhile, the sparsely used internal display offers exceptional clarity and brightness for multimedia viewing.
Integrating Rewind, Play / Pause, and Fast Forward controls on the outer panel, users can quickly and conveniently access the built-in Music Player without opening the A930.
As one of the newest devices to access Verizon Wireless' online VCAST Music Store, customers can browse, preview, download, and play high-quality digital music from the A930 over Verizon Wireless' broadband network.
Combining the immediacy of over-the-air, full-music downloads with the ability to move digital music, consumers can take music already downloaded to their PC and sync it with the A930 via USB cable. Storing tracks on removable microSD (TransFlash) memory cards, travelers can load up their music collection and take it with them on the road.
For private listening, users can plug headphones into the Headset Jack. For an open-air listening experience, dual speaker ports pump out stereo music. By merging VCAST Music online services, dual stereo speakers, removable memory, and dedicated music playback keys, the A930 offers a complete music experience.
The A930 supports all the text messaging standards, sending text through SMS (Short Messaging Service), positioning layouts with EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service), and attaching photos, voice clips, or recorded videos through MMS (Multimedia Message Service).
In addition, Verizon Wireless integrated Mobile IM for access to the most popular instant messaging services. Able to chat in real-time through AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger, users no longer have to end the conversation when leaving the PC. Now they can take it with them on the A930. Data charges may apply.
PIM (Personal Information Management) applications commonly found on most cell phones are included. Alarm Clock, Calculator (Normal, Tip, and Converter), Calendar, Notepad, Stopwatch, Voice Memo, and World Clock all come preinstalled on the A930.
Consumers can also issue voice commands through the VoiceSignal 2.0 technology. As one of the most popular and advanced voice recognition software, VoiceSignal recognizes one-step name and digit dialing, voice-activated application launch, message addressing, audio and visual prompts, and text-to-speech output. Users can also customize advanced functions through Expert User Mode, and adjust recognition sensitivity and audio level. VoiceSignal also works in conjunction with Bluetooth accessories.
New programs can be installed through downloadable Java-based applications supporting BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless), a common platform for mobile devices. With abundant software for business users and gamers alike, consumers can find mobile versions of popular PC applications and video games reminiscent of 90s console games already available.
Users can take advantage of high-speed broadband access through Verizon Wireless' EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) 3G network. Expanding to more than 171 metropolitan areas and 68 airports, Verizon Wireless' broadband network is one of the largest in the country. Transferring at theoretical speeds of up to 2.4 Mbps, consumers can expect more realistic rates are around 300 to 500 kbps.
Through EV-DO, customers can access a wide variety of Verizon Wireless services, including VCAST Video and Music, a subscription-based video streaming and music download service.
Consumers can watch live and prerecorded shows from popular channels such as ABC News, CNBC, MSNBC, the Weather Channel, the News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox studio, and Viacom Inc.'s VH1 and Comedy Central. Subscribing to select preferences, users can stay on top of their favorite content with text alerts being sent when new videos becomes available.
With more than one million songs available for purchase online, VCAST Music gives users immediate access to songs from well-known artists at major music labels Warner Music Group, EMI Music, Universal, and Sony/BMG, as well as indie provider The Orchard.
Customers buying tracks from the VCAST Music Store on the A930 actually get two copies of every song - one for the A930 and one for the Windows XP PC. Purchases from the PC cost $0.99 and can be transferred via USB cable to the phone, while purchases from the A930 cost $1.99 for both copies. VCAST Music customers will also be able to buy entire albums via Windows XP PCs. Prices vary by album.
Photos, video clips, wallpapers, ringtones, and games are dynamically shared among 33.0 MB of internal memory. For more storage-intensive applications, such as storing MP3s, the A930 includes a microSD expansion slot. Capable of accepting memory cards up to 1 GB in size, plenty of space is available to fully utilize the audio and imaging capabilities.
Bluetooth 1.1 technology lets consumers connect wirelessly to Bluetooth-compatible accessories within a 10 meter (30 feet) range.
Able to pair with a wide variety of peripherals, the A930 supports Headset Profile (HSP) to connect with popular Bluetooth headsets for wireless communication, Handsfree Profile (HFP) to access handsfree car kits, Serial Port Profile (SPP) to emulate a serial port, and Dial-Up Networking (DUN) Profile to let users connect laptops to go online over Bluetooth.
Unfortunately A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) and OBEX (Object Exchange) Profiles are not supported. A2DP is rather new but allows users to listen to stereo music on A2DP-compatible Bluetooth headphones. OBEX is commonly crippled on Verizon Wireless devices to prevent multimedia from being transfers from a PC.
Overall the A930 is a very capable multimedia device, offering a 1.3-megapixel, music player, and online access to Verizon Wireless' VCAST Video and Music services. Bluetooth technology, EV-DO connectivity, and a microSD expansion card slot provide the necessary foundation to unleash the multimedia capabilities.
Compared to other handhelds, the A930 is fairly mediocre, offering an average built-in camera, a basic music player, and limited Bluetooth profiles. However, several of the A930's options are exceptional, including the rotating lens, 262K-color internal LCD, and unorthodox design.
Probably the most intriguing and eye-catching feature of the A930, its contrasting design from ultra-thin devices are sure to turn heads. Complemented by a sleek black industrial look, the integrated external LCD extends the stylish aesthetic appeal.
For consumers who want a dedicated music phone, there are better devices on the market. But for users who want a well-rounded package with a trend-breaking sleek design, the A930 is an excellent choice. ♦
Samsung Galaxy S4: Outstanding, But Full of Gimmicks
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July 20, 2006
I just got this phone yesterday and I have to say I thought I was upgrading, instead I was downgrading. Let me explain...
Now the set up on it is just awful, which I found out today had nothing to do with Samsung, but Verizon decided to download a program into every one of its phones that is exactly the same. So if you aren't comfortable with this format (as I wasn't) your out of luck because all the phones they offer are now this way.
It has a springy feel when you open and close the phone. It felt like it was way too light even after the battery was in, almost like a toy phone. This brings me to my next point, when I talked into the phone, you don’t hear yourself at all. It's very odd. It sounds as if you just are talking into a phone that isn't even turned on.
As far as ringtones, there was about eight offered, same with the wallpapers, only 8 or so. This forces you to order ringtones and/or wallpapers from Verizon.
You can't really customize much, the contact list has to be in alphabetical order, not in order of importance or speed dial number. The red bars on the top and bottom of the screen has to be red, can't change that to any other color. When you dial, the numbers are unbelievably large, but you do have a few options as far as how you want it to look, either black or colored, on sticky notes or like a child wrote the numbers in a crayon. Nothing appealing. The directional key when you open the phone can't be customized to what you need to get to faster either. The button on the side turns the speakerphone on, and it apparently was pressed in my bag, so the whole store heard my conversation before I figured out what was happening.
To top things off, the reception wasn't as good as my old phone. I dropped calls, which I never ever do. That was the last straw. Less than 24 hours after I received the phone, it's now in a box waiting for FedEx.
I spent a good amount of money on a phone that I felt I was limited with. I went back to my Motorola V710, which has so much more to offer and I finally appreciate it more. Who knew?Was this review helpful to you?
40 out of 43 people found this review helpful.
July 28, 2006
Not Great, Not Bad
Not a great phone, but not that bad either:
- Media player hasn't given me problems.
- Ring and vibrate setting.
- Camera is pretty good for a phone.
- Flash for camera is good in dim settings.
- Rotating camera works well.
- Call quality is not bad, not crystal clear, but not bad.
- Reception is decent.
- Looks cool.
- Pictures from camera can be discolored.
- Flash doesn't affect objects that aren't relatively close.
- OLED external display is almost unreadable in sunlight.
- No shortcut button to set the phone to vibrate.
- Can't control ringer volume without opening the phone.
- Battery life can be short at times.
- Can't customize external display at all.
- Speakerphone button placement needs some getting used to.
- Sometimes, ear piece can be soft.
- Calendar icon never disappears even if the event passes or if the event is years away.
The phone is not bad. I wouldn't buy it again, but then I wouldn't return it either. It's mediocre, but has some decent uses.Was this review helpful to you?
34 out of 38 people found this review helpful.
October 25, 2006
Wish It Looked Better
I bought this phone for its functions. I did not like the look or the plastic feel of the phone. But I got a cover for it so that helped.
- Sound quality is good.
- Menu layout is pretty good.
- It can play songs (even MP3s when you change the hidden menu).
- Hooks up well with my Motorola H700 Bluetooth headset.
- Navigational/Internet (looked up movie times while we were at dinner. I plan on using navigation when on vacation.
- Camera and video good.
- Expandable memory slot.
- Battery life is pretty good.
- Reception (but I think that's Verizon's fault, and it's just at my home. Everywhere else is fine.).
- Like the camera lens can move.
- Doesn't come with charger or headset.
- Looks like a pager.
- Don't like the sideways screen on the front.
- Would prefer external antenna to get better reception at home.
- Wish it was made of metal instead of plastic.
If it looked better I would love this phone. I like it, but will get something else that looks better as soon as I find something with these features.Was this review helpful to you?
26 out of 31 people found this review helpful.
November 01, 2006
Better Than P107
I have had the phone now a week. It is nice, but I liked better the P107 which felt sturdier and also had a swivel camera -- I had that phone two years. This upgraded version of it should be far in advance.
The menu capability seems weak. I bet it could be a lot better. It took forever to learn that the volume rocker also controlled ringer volume and vibrate. The manual says nothing. The phone is cool looking, but I feel I downgraded from the P107. Verizon, listen up... let us choose our own phone style software and firmware! It would make customers a lot happier. And no other company does that so you could lead the pack. Having a flat stub antenna like the P107 most likely would have boosted the reception, which works but seems weak. I give this phone a B- rating. P107 was an A.Was this review helpful to you?
22 out of 28 people found this review helpful.
January 19, 2007
Doesn't Follow the Pack
I have had the A930 since September of last year, and although I owned Nokias for years before, I am very pleased with this phone. It has a very nice feature set, and this phone screams "I do not follow the pack." It just gets better with time.
I think Samsung has won a new loyal customer. I have also found my one-year upgrade phone, the yet unreleased Samsung U740. Check it out!Was this review helpful to you?
20 out of 29 people found this review helpful.
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