Samsung Continuum Review
Samsung’s Galaxy S line of devices is arguably one of the biggest hits of 2010. The sAMOLED screens that each of the devices feature has taken users in the next generation of screen technology with its color saturation, clearness, and overall vibrancy. Samsung has made sure that every US carrier has a Galaxy S device to offer. With the addition of the Samsung Continuum, Verizon Wireless now has two Galaxy S device to choose from. What makes the Continuum unique though, is the addition secondary “ticker” screen. Is there room for another Galaxy S device with Verizon? Is the ticker screen more gimmick that usability? Read on below to get the full scoop!
Here’s the unboxing for the Continuum. The box comes packed with just about everything you need, including a 2GB microSD card and earbud headphones.
On the spec side of things, the Continuum stays just about consistent with the Galaxy S name. Powered by a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, opening applications is a breeze. The Hummingbird chip is highly regarded by many, so this should be no surprise. The difference here is that the Continuum is equipped with 336MB of RAM rather than the 512MB that the other Galaxy S devices enjoy. We’ll go into more detail later on in our performance section to see just how well the Continuum stacks up. Other than that, the Continuum has a microSD slot capable of reading a 32GB card. A nice treat is that an 8GB card is preinstalled.
Staying on the Galaxy S theme, the Continuum features a 3.4″ sAMOLED screen with a resolution of 480×800. Colors are extremely vibrant and almost jump out at the user. We did find the on-screen keyboard to be somewhat tight on this smaller screen. Application icons on the homescreen scale well, so this wasn’t a serious issue. But, it doesn’t stop there. The Continuum also has a second 1.8″ screen that serves as a ticker. Designed to deliver notification and RSS updates, the ticker is also sAMOLED with a resolution 480×96. We’ll talk about the functionality of the ticker in our software section, so be sure to keep reading on.
Starting on the left side of the device, we find the up and down volume buttons. The microUSB charging port is also here, which goes against Samsung’s trend of keeping the charging port on top. It’s this very aspect, and the presence of a desk cradle application that causes us to believe that Samsung may be releasing a dock of some kind in the future.
The right side features a dedicated camera button which has proven to be extremely useful in the Galaxy S devices, as well as the microSD card slot. This means that users won’t have to constantly remove the battery when they want to remove their card.
Finally, located at the top of the device are the power and lock/unlock button and a 3.5mm headphone. Removing the battery cover unveils a 1500mAh. Samsung predicts a battery life of seven talk hours.
Straight out of the box you’ll be looking at Android 2.1 skinned with Samsung’s very own TouchWiz theme. If you don’t like TouchWiz, you’ll want to use an alternative homescreen launcher or just stay away. If you do like TouchWiz, you’ll be happy immediately. If you haven’t tried TouchWiz yet, you should give it a shot before you make a decision. Our major concern here is that Samsung doesn’t exactly have the best track record with OS updates. A prime example of this is the fact that most of the Galaxy S devices are still running Android 2.1, when 2.2 has been in circulation for a few months. With Android 2.3 Gingerbread on the horizon, we hope Samsung plans to move fast with updates.
The implementation with the secondary ticker screen is phenomenal. Samsung has setup a default layout of text messages, email, social networking notifications, weather, RSS feeds, and instant messaging services such as Gtalk to work with the ticker right out of the box. They have combined this functionality with a grip sensor to maximize usability. When a user picks up the device, the sensor recognizes that it is in hand and only lights up the ticker screen. This makes checking sports scores, news feeds, or seeing the first few words of your most recent text message extremely easy. For some reason it seems that the ticker is only configured to work with the generic “email” application out of the box and not the actual Gmail application. We hope this game be remedied with time.
Our second overview video pits the Continuum against one of its fellow relatives, the Galaxy S I9000. We talked about the fact that the Continuum has less RAM that the standard 512MB of the rest of the Galaxy S devices. However, it still has the same 1GHz Hummingbird processor. With a lower amount of RAM you would expect the Continuum to have a hard time keeping up with the Froyo equipped I9000. Yet, the Continuum outperforms the I9000 in almost every test in the below video. We did not that when it comes to multitasking, the I9000 and its 512MB of RAM cannot be beaten.
Samsung doesn’t disappoint with the Continuum’s 5 megapixel camera. Colors appear very vivid and picture detail is very clear. The dedicated camera button makes taking a quick picture very easy. The video recording capabilities of the Continuum kept up and recorded equally pleasing quality video.
Also, as you’ll see below the camera even exceeds in the darkest of conditions. The two pictures below were taken with zero ambient light and solely flash.
The 1GHz processor keeps the Continuum chugging right along. We did not the occasional hiccup when opening applications and navigating through the UI. This seemed to happen when the ticker screen was updating feeds while the main display was also conducting its own task. Most of the Galaxy S devices have 512MB of RAM. The Continuum however, has 336MB. This may be the reason for our experienced consistencies. If the RAM on this device was kept up-to-par we doubt we’d have any of these problems.
CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED
The Continuum possesses the advantage of utilizing Verizon’s strong cellular network. We did not experience a single dropped call and our device displayed a pleasing “3G” logo everywhere while maintaining fast data speeds.
With that being said, callers during test calls commented that our voice sounded very electronic. The same was experienced on our end with a slight consistent static background noise. It almost seemed as if the gain on the earpiece was set too high and was overcompensating to the point of distortion.
As we mentioned above, Samsung expects the 1500mAh battery to achieve seven hours of talk time. The Continuum deserves a sticker here. We got through a day of use and background notifications without a hitch. Whatever Samsung is doing, they’re doing it right. Keep a second charger or car charger nearby for those just in case situations, but we think you’ll be fine.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
The Samsung Continuum is currently available from Verizon Wireless for 199.99 with a two-year contract.
+ High resolution sAMOLED screen
+ Ticker screen is a great feature
+ Thin and light
+ Bright LED flash
+ Great battery life
– Cramped onscreen keyboard
– Low amount of RAM limits multitasking
– Call quality (likely due to hardware)
– Limited application integration with ticker
It appears that Samsung is truly trying to make their Galaxy S line of devices for everyone. If you desire a sAMOLED screen but have been turned off by the large 4″ screens, the Continuum may be for you. It’s great to see Samsung offering their devices in different shapes and designs that one uniform theme. We just hope that they can stay on top of things and provide their users with updates as they roll out.
If you are looking for a smaller sAMOLED display and have the ability to beome acclimated with a small on screen keyboard then you may thoroughly enjoy the Continuum. TouchWiz still seems to be an acquired taste and certainly isn’t for everyone. With that being said, we can’t wait to see what Samsung does with the ticker screen. Being able to see Twitter, Facebook, and many other notifications on the fly is a huge benefit, and the potential utilizations seem expansive. At the end of the day, we greatly enjoyed using the Continuum, we just wish the price was $50 cheaper. We give the Samsung Continuum a 4.5/5.