We're not going to make a practice out of reviewing cellphone/digicams, we have plenty to
do just covering regular digicams -- but I
just had the pleasure of reviewing (OK playing with) the new
Samsung A500 3G Vision Phone
SprintPCS Vision Camera. This whole cellphone and digital camera thing has been
the craze in Japan for over a year and is just now coming to the states. It's
not a high resolution image compared to what we're used to dealing with but it is "cool"
all the same.
What we have here is a simple point-n-shoot VGA resolution camera that can take 15 color
pictures and a "state of the art" cellphone that displays the images and transmits them to
your account with SprintPCS Vision. Once transmitted you can share your images via
Internet email or send them to anyone else with a SprintPCS Vision phone. You can access
your Photo Albums with your web browser and select and send them to however many people
you want. You can also send images to people that are already in your Address Book
directly from your Samsung A500 or other Vision Enabled cellphone. How cool is that?
Check out the sample photos at the end of this review. I gave the phone and camera to a
friend of mine and he took it along with him to the Bucs and Panthers football game at
Raymond James Stadium. I gave him all of a two-minute tutorial before he left with the
camera and phone, it is simple to operate. He took some shots at the pre-game tailgate
party and some more from inside the stadium. He then transmitted them while sitting in
the bleachers and I got them shortly afterwards via email. The Bucs creamed the Panthers
by the way - Go Bucs!
Here's the back of the camera, the only control besides the shutter release button on the
top is the On/Off switch. The small monochrome data LCD displays the number of pictures
remaining and the battery condition.
When you're ready to transfer the pictures from the camera to your PCS Vision account
you open the end of the camera to access the connecting cable. The CR123 battery is
also located inside here, it's good for about 500+ pictures.
The camera plugs into the bottom of the phone after removing a small rubber cap plug.
Using the menu on the phone you scroll down to PICTURES and then select any one or
all of the images stored in the camera. Now select the TRANSFER or TRANSFER ALL
option and away you go. It takes about twenty seconds per picture to transfer and
when it is done the camera memory is automatically cleared and you're ready to take
another 15 pictures.
The Samsung A500 has got an incredibly bright and colorful LCD screen. Even in the
bright outdoor light it is still highly visible. Besides viewing still pictures you
can also download animated screen savers like the fish seen here. You can also download
games, check the news and weather and even surf the web in a somewhat limited fashion.
Here's what you will see when you log into your SprintPCS Vision web account. You click
on the Picture Inbox link to see all of your pictures. From here you can rotate them
(if shot in portrait mode), enhance them (see frame below), Share them, move them into
Albums or delete them.
Sharing your photos is as easy as entering the recipient's email address or their
SprintPCS Vision phone number. You don't actually email the photos, you send an email
message that has a clickable link back to your online photos. This is nice because it
will never overload someone's email account and they can view them and capture them
whenever they want.
You can edit/ehance your photos with options for: editing the caption, lighten subject,
darken subject, crop image, antique (sepia tone), black & white or soft focus. Special
effects include adding one of several different sized "comic text bubbles", turn the image
into a cartoon or line drawing. You can also view your images as an automated slideshow.
If you need a cellphone - who doesn't these days - why not get one that does all the usual
things as well as transmitting color pictures. The Samsung A500 phone is as small as they
get and still be large enough to actually use and has a decent battery life. The color
screen on this phone is amazing, I can't imagine it getting much better anytime soon. The
phone part works great, I had no trouble making or receiving calls and like most
cellphones nowadays you can change the ringer to any one of hundreds of tones or even
songs. More new ones to download all the time, right from the local PCSVision carrier.
The camera is simple and isn't bad for a low-res (VGA) CMOS sensor digicam. All it needs
is a battery and it's good to go for about 500 photos. Operation is simple but you do
need to remember to keep your fingers away from the lens, it is a small camera. Judge
the image quality yourself from the sample picture below. They look absolutely great on
the color screens of these new cellphones.
If you're looking for both a useful and unusual gift for that special someone this year
then why not give them a great cellphone / camera. Just be sure to get yourself one too
so you can swap pictures back and forth. There will also be a new Samsung cellphone
coming out in a couple of months that has a color camera built right in. If you like
"cutting edge" electronic gizmos they don't come any sharper than this!