Samsung SCH-U740 Review| By Megan H. Chan
Coated in a soft metallic champagne color, the U740 is Samsung's answer to an all-in-one PDA, mobile phone and email messenger seeks to deliver a slew of multimedia options. You can switch comfortably between the two opening methods: portrait mode or a standard clamshell, and a landscape mode which reveals its keyboard.
You can type quickly using Wireless Sync, Verizon's proprietary email solution. With Wireless Sync, you can synchronize with a PC for access to new email, calendar, contacts and task information.
The U740 is fairly compact and offers improved functions on standard applications like voice recognition. However, a confusing menu navigation system makes it difficult for you to access these improvements. Once you do though, Verizon's gateway to VCast video and music allows for endless options to expound upon.
Samsung pitches the U740 as the silver bullet to multimedia ticks. Its design is innovative and comfortable with its reversible full landscape, keyboard mode and clamshell design. With its sleek black interior with comfortable bubble buttons and highlighted silver number pad keys, the phone is well on its way to becoming a light-weight multi-media winner -- it weighs 3.6 ounces. Though it is a lightweight, the U740 still feels solid and keyboard pads firm.
The double hinge is helpful, so if you're not willing to fully commit to a landscape design, the more traditional clamshell is useful. Many entertainment functions only work in landscape mode. The soft, metallic champagne colored casing fits well with its fairly bright 1.1-inch external screen. However, the touch-sensitive music controls on the exterior are difficult to activate. Also, the left hand side charger outlet also serves as a headphone outlet, which means simultaneous charging and listening are impossible unless the two interior independent speakers are put to use.
The buttons can only be used when the music player is on and the keys lock. Every time a track needs changing, the U740 must be unlocked and without a strict locking setting, those with wandering fingers might accidentally skip the track while grazing their finger over the pad. Smarter exterior buttons include a left-hand side volume control and expandable microSD memory card slot on the right hand side along with a speakerphone key.
The interior has a slew of buttons in addition to its unique keyboard. A typical rounded arrow button pad is customizable with its options. Also, an automatic camera/video camera button links to that function. A direct button also activates voice recognition, which is often spotty. But with all these great options, the keys are still crammed and if your fingers are bigger than a regular pen-size point, you might find it difficult to use. Out of the box, the U740 comes with a battery, travel charger, 2.5-millimeter headset adaptor and user guide.
While the built-in 1.3-megapixel camera produces fair quality photos, the difficulty in accessing the function proves very frustrating. First, the lack of an exterior camera button on the U740 makes it awkward to take self-portraits. Also, a special camera/video button often doesn't work and when it does, requires the user to hold it down for a few seconds before the options become apparent and the frustrating menu patterns inhibits its offerings.
When accessible, the flash is more than decent and photos can be saved in five different Resolutions -- 1280-by-960, 640-by-480, 320-by-240 and 160-by-120 pixels -- and three different quality settings -- fine, normal and economy. Many options allow for customizable photos, including 4x zoom, color effects -- normal, black and white, sepia, antique and negative -- self-timer for two, five or 10 seconds and multi-shots.
Three "ready" sounds -- "say cheese," "look here" and a countdown -- are offered alongside four different Shutter Sounds, including a Silent option. Metering can also be selected an Average, Center or Spot. White balance -- five variations -- light metering and flash allow for a finer picture, although neither can be controlled with a very find hand. Photos can be converted to black and white sketch drawings and sent with text messages.
If you fidget with the difficult menu items, an automatic save option is available. Verizon makes it easy for you to share photos by sending them through Pix Place, which requires pre-registration. Pix Place then helps create automated picture albums you can share with friends and family members. Accessing the video recorder is equally as difficult, but once opened, there is a decent array of options. Videos can be recorded in two modes: messages and normal. Multimedia messages are limited to 15 seconds and normal recording is also available.
The U740 offers basic features of its competitors with twists and improvements. Its address book includes room in each entry for five phone numbers, two email addresses and a personal note. Contacts can be saved in a group or with a photo for caller ID and one of 10 polyphonic ringtones, which can be expanded with the use of Verizon's VCast network.
A useful, albeit paid service is extras, which backs up address book entries to an external database that can be accessed when a phone is damaged. Another very useful selection is the call timer breakdown. You can view the total number of minute spent on received, dialed and roamed calls. In addition, the U740 logs the total number of kilobytes transferred as well as outgoing and incoming breakdowns. An alarm clock lets you to preprogram the U740 to ring once, daily, only during the week or weekends. A world clock and stopwatch are also available.
Quirky features include four different number display options. Telephone numbers can be displayed in a normal black and white text style, rainbow colored type, quill pen font or sticky, which features multi-colored sticky notes with black numbers written on top of them all against a corkboard background. If you might tire of entering numbers manually each time or scrolling through an endless rolodex of contacts, the U740 allows you to pre-program up to 999 speed dial numbers.
The most frustrating aspect of the user experience with the U740 is the menu, which is often difficult to navigate. The opening menu features a round of pictorial icons that light up when the directional keyboard rolls over the image. And with a battery talk time of only 3.5 hours but an estimated life of 200 hours in standby mode, the U740 isn't meant for long road trips.
Equipped with internal and external screens, the U740 easily transitions between the two, allowing the external screen to serve as a timekeeper, battery power gauge, reception monitor and music player display when the device is shut. The screen displays album art and has customizable wallpaper and clock displays. The external screen is not crystal clear but reasonable enough at 96-by-96 pixels and 65,000 colors and its clock can be displayed in digital or analog format. The screen also displays photo caller ID and can be used as a viewfinder when taking self-portraits.
The internal display works best in landscape mode. At 176-by-220 pixels and 262,000 colors the TFT screen is clear, but perhaps not as top-of-the-line as would be nice with such a vast array of videos and other multimedia devices in the VCast libraries.
One of the best options is Sync Music which allows you to transfer files from your PCs. Windows Media Player 10 -- only compatible with Windows XP -- is required. The USB plug required for this function is not included with the handheld.
While the VCast library opens up many options, the Music Library and playlist functions allow for preferences on the device. You can input songs directly into your My Music library and or create specific playlists with your favorite tracks. Music can be played while the U740 is shut.
The two speakers on opposing ends of the screen are decent, but do not provide the clearest sound. It works well enough for options like speakerphone and basic music playing. Speech recognition is sometimes flawed and registers the wrong command. However, the device continues to build on its competitors' versions with programming its voice recognition programs to send pictures and text messages in addition to traditional options like looking up names, dialing contacts and opening applications. The U740 also includes a headset adapter with 2.5 mm jack, conveniently and discreetly located on the left hand side.
The U740 comes with just a few preloaded options, which gives you incentive to buy pieces from VCast. One function called MySounds allows you to record up to 60 seconds of an audio track and then set it as a ringtone or alarm clock sound or attach the clip to a text messenger. Sounds preloaded on the handheld include the Birthday song, clapping, a crowd roar, rainforest and train whistle.
Messaging is a comfort for fast typers with the keyboard. As mentioned before, the keys are sometimes too crammed and bigger paws might have difficulty. The U740 is preloaded to support AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger Service and Yahoo Messenger.
While the design sometimes interferes with the productivity of typing -- number keys are highlighted in silver, but are difficult to distinguish with their large print letters -- a numlock key solves the problem when dialing numbers or number sequences in messages. Messages can be attached to photos or videos, conveniently and a signature option allows for a specific sequence to be attached to the bottom of every outgoing text message. A paid, an optional Wireless Sync feature allows you to wirelessly sync the phone with your email, calendar and address books.
In addition to its famous VCast library of music, videos or some combination of the two, the U740 builds its entertainment around its signature keyboard, which means more text options. One of the most useful is the News & Info capability which only works again, in landscape mode. You have to first connect to the VCast network. Once news is selected from specific categories, the keyboard operates differently than a normal phone call, which is sometimes frustrating.
The entertainment menu, identified as "Get It Now," comes with few preloaded options and requires that you connect to the VCast network for any additional applications. This includes music, ringtones, pictures and video as well as a category called "Extras." Sadly for gamers, the phone comes preloaded with no games -- not even trail versions. You can select to purchase a subscription or unlimited pass to Verizon's online gaming site, from which they can download new apps.
The Ev-Do network offers high-speed data connectivity -- around 300- to 500-kilobits per second -- for downloading the latest multimedia from the Verizon's VCast network. The browser takes advantage of a suite of downloadable programs like VZ Navigator, ChaperoneParent, and Backup Assistance. While it makes entertainment easier, working seriously with the device is possible through Wireless Sync, which supports Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, POP3, and IMAP email systems.
While a few Internet messaging sites are accommodated, the U740 also is compatible with several email services including: MSN Hotmail, AOL Mail, Yahoo Mail and others which are searchable in an online database. Overall, the U740 has Internet you've come to expect from a multimedia device. Currently one of the fastest devices on the market, Ev-Do is the backbone to Verizon's VCast offerings.
With about 60-megabytes of internal memory and running on 7.7-megabytes of RAM, the U740 can store plenty of photos and ringtones. However, for more memory-intensive media such as MP3s or videos, you'll need to store them on removable microSD cards, currently available for purchase up to 2-gigabytes in size.
Almost standard these days, the U740 also comes with Bluetooth, able to connect with peripherals up to a 30 foot radius. The Bluetooth capabilities are sparse, offering the most basic protocols to connect to headsets and handsfree devices, transfer vCards over-the-air, and transform into a modem for laptops. Noticeably missing is A2DP to listen to stereo music Bluetooth headphones, and AVRCP to remotely control A/V equipment such as TVs and hi-fi devices.
If you're craving a keyboard phone, the U740 is the best choice with a fair mix of networking opportunities and entertainment functions -- specifically text-based ones. But with a focus on maximizing the use of its keyboard, the menus and navigation systems are not streamline enough if you're looking to run through emails, text messages and photos. ♦
Categories: Business | Messaging
Samsung Galaxy S4: Outstanding, But Full of Gimmicks
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November 25, 2007
I buy phones off eBay and fix them to resell them or use them myself. Consequently, I have a credible, unique perspective on any cell phone review. First, let me explain that I have used a slew of different Verizon phones in the last year, which include:
- Motorola V710
- Motorola E815
- Motorola V3m
- Samsung A650
- Samsung A740
- Samsung A850
- Samsung A340
- Samsung A870
- LG VX8300
- LG VX8600
- LG VX8700
I purchased the U740 and kept it for nine days. Function-wise, this is a great phone, make no mistake about this. However, if you are looking for a phone to be a phone first and a text messaging, image capturing, mobile internet, and mobile email device afterward, then this phone is not for you.
This phone is very functional, minus great reception. The dual-hinge screen is exceptional. The two speakers on the flip part are a huge plus. The construction of this phone is also great. It seems as though it may be made of some sort of alloy. If it is plastic, it does not seem to be plastic. Although I never dropped it, I would imagine it would probably withstand some drops here and there. The camera is decent.
The keys are very small when being used as the numeric keypad for a phone. But when you flip the other way and use the QWERTY keypad, it is a world of difference. If you get this phone, it is heavily recommended that you spring for a Bluetooth headset and get used to using the voice command capabilities.
At night, driving down the road, you cannot drive, safely that is, and dial a number easily with this phone. Big fingers or little fingers, this is especially dangerous with this phone. Now for the great to know stuff.
The Motorola E815 is the standard that all Verizon phones should be measured against. Rest assured, you cannot and will not find a better reception phone than the E815.
Compared to the E815, the U740 is AWOL when it comes to reception. It seems like all Samsungs are mediocre at best when it comes to signal strength and reception. While an external antenna will definitely improve reception, I think one other main issue, which I cannot seem to find mentioned, is the fact that all Verizon phones using software which is written by Verizon are inherently lacking in viable and consistent reception.
But the opposite holds true for OEM manufactured software that is used in other Verizon phones. For example of course, the E815 software is not by Verizon, it is written by Motorola. I think there may be something to this.
Anyway, the reception of this phone is horrible. If you live right beside a cell tower and never go out, then this is your phone. If you travel any (for purposes of this review, the definition of traveling is considered as if you ever go outside of your house), then be prepared to have subpar reception with this phone on your trip.
As with all Verizon phones, the U740 doesn't have a good selection of factory installed ringtones.
After nine days of mostly 1 to 2 bar reception, I decided to take this phone back and swap it for the LG VX8700. Needless to say that I definitely have a better phone now.Was this review helpful to you?
85 out of 86 people found this review helpful.
January 14, 2008
3 Big Problems
I like the phone. I got it mostly for the QWERTY keyboard to enter calendar events. I soon found that the calendar has some programming issues.
One big problem is that if you make a daily, or weekly event, that if you go to a single instance of this event and erase it (mind you, not choosing erase all, just erase), that it always deletes every instance of the event! Unacceptable behavior!
Also, you cannot disable alerts for events. I can only figure that somewhere along the design process someone confused events for appointments, an appointment I need to know about, the time my wife works today I don't need to be alerted to, just need it in my schedule. The best you can do is to set the alert "light only". The problem with this is that it pops up a silent dialog for the alert that interferes with the Bluetooth headsets ability to voice command dial. This is due to the phone needing user input (click Okay) to clear the alert dialog! If the phone is in your pocket and you are on the road, you go to use your headset (hold for two seconds to get the voice command) and it won't work. So you have to dig in your pocket to see what is going on with the phone, only to find the stupid alert disabling your voice command.
The third issue is with the display of events for a day. It shows you a list of events for that day, for each event the start time is displayed, and the name of the event, as well as icons indicating if an alert is set. But the programmers failed to have the end time displayed! So you get a list of events for the day with start times, but not end times, and then you have to view the individual event to see when it ends. Just dumb! Who checks this stuff? I'm guessing no one.Was this review helpful to you?
51 out of 54 people found this review helpful.
July 30, 2007
A Further Look: Problem Solved!
Samsung's Navigation can be cumbersome, however, after spending sometime scrolling through every option conceivable, I have come to conclusion that I believe Samsung most likely realized that there were way too many options on the phone to make it as streamlined as they would have liked -- from editing pictures, world clocks, tip calculators, currency converters, etc. So to solve this problem they added two features.
Quick Search and Shortcut Keys / Hot keys
Quick Search: Works as a tool that allows u to navigate directly to what you want by just typing the first letter of the option so if I type "2," I'll get every option from A to C since the number "2" key has ABC on it. So the options that come up would be Alarm Clock, Banner and Converter. This is broken down into two categories. One for Contacts and one for the Options as in the example above. This makes the phone even easier to cut through.
Also the phone has enabled the user to set up their own hot keys using the four directions of the "D-pad" the Circle! So I can go directly to my inbox if I hit left -- Go to my calendar if I hit down, go to my alarm clock if I hit up, etc.
All this helps make the phone much more navigation free because of instead of navigating through the phone one just simply jumps thru the phone. But not matter what, you still have to know the options available in order to know that if I type in "C" on the quick search that I'm going to get Converter and all the other C's if I didn't know the converter was on the phone I wouldn't know to just hit C to find it.
To solve the navigation issue on this phone -- Go to phone settings -> Display setting -> Display Themes -- and then choose anything but "My Desk." My desk is the reason this phone has failed and received bad reviews for the navigation. Once you've changed this to anything but "My Desk," it's just like any other Verizon phone because it's their traditional interface.
Once you do that this phone is excellent! It's even smart enough to know that I'm only going to use T9 text when I'm in the traditional phone orientation and using the keypad instead of the horizontal QWERTY keyboard. Problem solved!
Samsung dropped the ball when they didn't not make these options obvious -- you have to actually go into the phone and turn all these features on. This takes some digging thru the lousy navigation system but once they are on, you're good to go. Sucks to do it the first time, but once you have your phone personalized, you won't have to do it again -- and then your phone becomes a breeze to jump through. Literally jump through because you're skipping menus altogether going straight to the source. This phone just jumped up 5 points in my book. But it still doesn't take away from the fact that they really could have made the manual navigation a lot better.
I give this phone an 8 out of 10.Was this review helpful to you?
66 out of 70 people found this review helpful.
July 29, 2007
This phone is a decent phone -- not excellent, but a decent phone.
- Trendy -- it's definitely an attention getter. It looks sophisticated when texting due to its slim nature an atheistically pleasing and modestly large screen.
- Menu is not at easy to navigate like the enV 9900 -- however, this phone is not a brick like the enV!
- The vibrator is quiet enough that it won't rattle the table if it's on a desk. But it's still noticeably felt if in a pocket.
- Good sound quality.
- The camera phone is only a 1.3-megapixel -- it doesn't matter to most until you see the clarity and definition on a 2-megapixel phone such as the LG VX8700.
- The phone menu navigation is not streamline -- you continuously have to open window after window after window. Way too many prompts just to reply to a message. About three or four steps before you even get to the page to type the words. You'll become faster over time but still annoying especially when you’re trying to be fast. You can't simply get a message, read it, and rely -- you have to start from the beginning every time as if you just turned the phone on.
- The streamline menu navigation is the main hindrance of the phone. Eventually you will become tuned to the menus and functions of the phone but there is a definite learning curve, so be aware.
- Factory ringtones suck!
- Video not the greatest. The voice is out of sync with the video, like an Internet webcam or an Iraqi Baghdad satellite news broadcast.
Overall: This phone is a decent phone if you can get past the navigation issues. If you want better controls and navigation go with the enV. But if you don't want a brick and just want a slimmer phone go with this Samsung -- it's all about what's more important to you.Was this review helpful to you?
51 out of 55 people found this review helpful.
May 03, 2008
Hard to Type On
This is a phone that I just had to have. I looked at it for months on the Verizon site, and when they offered it for free, I had to take it up. For looks, fun, and conversations, it's a good phone. But I am happier with the U620 that I have now.
For a good six months, I liked the phone. I didn't like, however, if someone sent you a forwarded text that had more than one page. You can't forward it to someone else! I know you're not supposed to text and drive, but it is virtually impossible with this phone -- with other phones I've never had to look at while texting.
The 1-9 buttons were too small to text that way, and the QWERTY keyboard requires you to use both hands. In addition, the phone would power off for the fun of it. The signal was the worst on any phone I have ever had. But still, I liked the phone, until one day I picked up my old V710 and realized how easy it was to push the buttons on it. When the vibrate stopped working (I keep it on vibrate and never use ringers), I decided it was time for a new phone.Was this review helpful to you?
35 out of 38 people found this review helpful.
November 13, 2007
Poor Battery Life
When I went to the store and got this phone, I was overjoyed! Not only did it somewhat satisfy me as much as my older Motorola E815 (definitely the best phone I've ever had), the QWERTY keyboard and side display all together made me go nuts.
The phone was all I needed, the camera was fine enough, it had a very good and somewhat clear speaker phone, the phone placement on the ear was good, and I know a lot of people don't like the touch screen music control, but I loved it. It was fine for me; I really don't understand what's so tricky about it.
It's just the battery life is absolutely abysmal. They say 200 hours standby time, that's fine for me, 3.5 hour talk is fine, but it really isn't. I charge my phone all night and unplug it at 7am -- every morning. By 12 in the afternoon, the battery meter is at one bar. If I decide to buy a ringtone, I should expect to lose a bar or two, it always happens.
By the end of my school day at 2:15pm the battery is completely depleted and the phone shuts off. If it did not do that, I would have absolutely no qualms, but it's just annoying to know that I can't use my phone whenever I need to.
Not only that, but I get in so much trouble with my mom when the battery's dead and she's trying to reach me on weekends, so I'm just going to get a new phone, something that reminds me of the E815 if not the E815 itself.Was this review helpful to you?
46 out of 50 people found this review helpful.
September 11, 2008
Takes a Beating
I've had my phone for close to two years now. I've dropped it lord knows how many times, on lord knows how many different surfaces. I've gotten it wet, stuck in the recliner, and all sorts of stuff. My phone has been through hell and back. But I've never had to get a new one, which is good since I didn't get insurance for it. There's a small crack on the screen, and scratches on it.
The picture quality is very good, if I want to put a picture on the Internet I send them from my phone, you could ever tell it wasn't a digital camera.
Overall, this is an excellent phone; I would definitely suggest it to anyone.
One of the few downfalls is that after you've had it for a while, if you're not careful when you close it, you'll wind up with scratches on the screen that match the D-pad and other buttons.
The large number of buttons takes a little getting used to, but once you master it you'll be a speed demon while texting. The menu is somewhat complicated and takes some time to conquer.
Only in the past few months have I started to have problems with the phone. My mother's works just like it did when she bought it, because hers doesn't get the punishment mine does. What has started happening is if I go into my music or any other application for the first time in a while (maybe a few hours) the phone "reboots." It'll turn itself off and back on. This is very annoying. It will also happen occasionally when I get a text. Usually it will "reboot" a couple times a day.Was this review helpful to you?
42 out of 47 people found this review helpful.
May 25, 2008
First off, the full QWERTY keypad is one of the coolest and one of the most creative keypads I've seen on a phone, but the keys are somewhat small. But I do have fat fingers so it's probably just me! The hinge is surprisingly strong for the small size. It does get a little loose at some points, but mostly strong. The interior screen is completely dazzling. Large, beautiful and bright.
The only thing wrong with the phone is that the battery life is terrible! It's so small! I have about zero to one bars at my house so that may be the issue, but still it could have been better. It lasts for about three hours! That's craziness! And the outside screen and the touchpad MP3 buttons aren't that great. Samsung has somewhat disappointed me with this phone. All in all, I give this phone a 7.5.Was this review helpful to you?
25 out of 28 people found this review helpful.
June 27, 2007
It has everything I need!
Oh man, I love my phone! It has everything I need! I do a lot of texting, so the keyboard helps out a lot. The camera is amazing, and so are the videos on it. Also, the menu is so easy and fast to go through. The speaker on it is nice and loud and I play music at school when there's nothing to do.
The only real problems I've had with it are the 24 / 7 cleanings. Also the girl's voice when you go in the menu -- she says everything and it gets annoying after a while.Was this review helpful to you?
31 out of 38 people found this review helpful.
March 07, 2013
Love the dual hinge, the keyboard, everything--wish they still made decent flip-phones, my back pockets are not big enough for the new phones!
Photos not that sharp, can't have BOTH tone and vibrate, and the "mouse" doesn't scroll, you must keep clicking to scroll.Was this review helpful to you?
0 out of 0 people found this review helpful.
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