Samsung Unpacked: The Samsung Jet

19 06 2009

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The huge Samsung Unpacked Billboard on Orchard Road

This week I was invited to the regional launch of the latest addition to the Samsung family – the Samsung Jet! It was a very classy (and purple) event that was sleek and funky at the same time. The decorations, venue, execution and FOOD was utterly superb! I believe Samsung spent a HUGE fortune on this event especially with it being held concurrently in Dubai and London.

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My only picture of the interior (sorry was too obsessed with phone) – Media Registration Counter

The event was held at the Changi Exhibition Centre which as DK says, is out in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully they provided us with a shuttle service from City Hall to the venue, else I’d have given up trying to get my forgetful self there.

The presentation was truly a class of its own having the presenter interact with the projected animations rather than pressing clicks / mouse buttons to go through traditional presentation slides. I’m not sure what technology was used for the presentation but it really came across as holographic. The presenter looked like he was interacting with a semi-holographic projection making the whole event look very 3D and interactive.

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My only decent presentation shot. As flash was not allowed, I couldn’t get any clear shots of the projected holographics 😦

Ok enough with the boring stuff.. lets get to the phone. The phone has a LOT of cool nifty features but these are the ones that caught my attention (and which I would probably use the most).

The Samsung Jet

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#1 The Technology – Speed
Samsung calls the Jet a phone that is smarter than a smartphone. The phone is designed to solve all the problems we hate about using smartphones, namely the SPEED. It comes with a 800Mhz processor which is actually a LOT for a tiny device, making it possible to multi-task numerous programs and watch high quality DVD videos without any lag.

One of their Korean executives gave me a demo of the phone loading 4 web pages in the background, running a game and then watching a movie. All ran concurrently without ANY lag. The response is extremely fast too, no more frustration from waiting 3 seconds before the phone responds to a press. Don’t believe me? Watch a video Claudia took of the video playing in action on the phone here… now only if the screen was bigger.
 

#2 The Dolfin Browser

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The Dolfin Browser is one of the reasons why the Jet runs so smoothly when browsing the Internet. It is created by Samsung specially for their phones, making it possible to view 5 websites and switch between them without any lag. When I was trying it out, I could load multiple web pages including Facebook and flip among them without any problem. Not too sure whether JavaScript is a problem but DK said it has some bugs with Flash.

One last note on the browser: According to the website it is able to handle multiple downloads smoothly but I wasn’t able to test it due to Starhub’s slow 3G..
 

#3 One Finger Zoom

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One Finger Zoom

Samsung went one step further and created a new convention for zooming photos and web pages by using only one finger. This way you can zoom in and out of photos and web pages using just one finger, maintaining your hand stance like how you would while SMSing. To get into and out of the zoom mode, you just have to hold your thumb on the screen for a little while, the zoom meter appears and you slide your finger up or down to zoom in and out. Took me just about 4 seconds to get used to it. I have to admit it is much more convenient than the 2 finger zooming convention which all smart phones are happily replicating today.
 

#4 The User Interface!

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Dynamic User Interface

For starters, I’m VERY glad they created an interface of their own.. Windows Mobile is getting a little weak for smartphones in terms of performance. The image above shows the core interface with a little “tool box” on the left with links to applications, and a set of core functions in the bottom menu. What I really like is that you can hide the tool box at anytime to increase the amount of space to play with in the main area. Also, as this is a dynamic interface, you can drag and drop widgets from the toolbox onto the main area like a computer desktop. You can add new widgets as well when you download more applications.

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The interface with the tool box hidden, BlueTooth and music player widgets

Before I end off, there is ONE FINAL feature which I totally love, lacking from all other smartphones I’ve experienced. It is the TASK manager. You know how sometimes you may have multiple apps running in the background, thought you closed them but they’re STILL RUNNING, wasting your precious battery power? Samsung added a cool nifty feature where you can easily access the task manager and close running applications. All you have to do is hold the cube button down and the task manager will show up in a very easy to use interface.

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The super easy to use Task Manager

 

#5 Keyboard
Sorry there is ONE MORE feature I MUST highlight which is the keyboard. As usual, they are using a Qwerty keyboard that has keys smaller than your fingers. I hate the iPhone for not having a keypad interface as a keyboard. The Samsung Jet has both but when I tried their Qwerty keyboard, I was in total amazement. I could type VERY fast without much care and I had very little spelling errors. What’s happening here? Instead of detecting one key at a time, the keyboard detects a few (2-3 I believe) based on the area of your finger. Based on the combination of keys you typed in and the central area your finger touches the keyboard, it intelligently guesses the word you are trying to type and inputs it. Typing on it was so convenient I found myself typing web addresses more with the Qwerty than the Keypad. I have no idea why this is not highlighted on their website even though it is a big plus point.
 

Conclusion
On the overall, I really like the phone as it fixes almost everything I hate about smartphones – speed, small keyboard keys, invisible running applications, etc. It is definitely a smartphone, that is smarter than a smartphone. My only qualms with it is the User Interface.. it is very well designed… you can see that a lot of thought has been put into it especially in fixing major user interaction issues that are common in smartphones. However, I feel that there are some minor adjustments that could be done to make the phone even more thumb-friendly. And no, I’m not saying the iPhone’s interface is better.. the Jet beats the iPhone in terms of both technology and UI design. It is just that in a general sense, the UI design is not perfect yet.

And before I forget, app junkies will suffer from deprivation as there will probably not be less apps available for the Samsung Jet
 

Other random pictures from the event

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Lucky draw machine.. I didn’t win! DK and Preetam did though 😦

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One of the many never-ending reception snacks

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My dinner menu

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The Starter – Poached Boston Lobster, Cauliflower and Truffle Puree, White Asparagus and Shellfish Sauce

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Main Course – Pan Seared Sea Bass, Steamed Wa Wa Cabbage, Buttered Fondant Potato, Ginger Sauce

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Dessert – Tahitian Vanilla and Manjari Chocolate Mousse, Crunchy Praline and Passion Fruit Ice Cream
 

Resources you might want to check out:
Official Samsung Unpacked webpage
Official Samsung Jet webpage (lots of useful information on the phone)
Unboxing the Samsung Jet





Facebook Developer’s Garage 2 & Some UI Notes

14 03 2008

Last week E27 and the Singapore PHP User Group organized the 2nd Facebook Developer’s Garage in Singapore. As a fresh Facebook developer, I was ecstatic when my teams and I were invited to present 2 of our applications there: AntRush and Prosperity Garden.

I have not written about AntRush before because the application is still in Beta so here’s a quick introduction:

AntRush is a simple online turn-based strategy game where you’re given an ant colony which you can grow and some eggs which you can morph into workers and soldiers. Once you have a big enough army, you can invade your friend’s colonies, kill their ants and rob them of their resources in the process.

Coming back to the event, I felt that we didn’t really give a good presentation because we didn’t have time to prepare for it and hence went with an impromptu style presentation. We mainly spoke about our experience developing the application, how we came up with the idea, the technology used and problems encountered(especially with the user interface(UI)). As promised, I’ll spare the technical details as they can get pretty mundane and focus on writing about the interesting points I learnt UI-wise from my experience of developing these 2 Facebook apps.
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