Samsung Ultra Video F500 Mobile Phone - Review

Samsung Ultra Video F500 Mobile Phone - Review

Samsung Ultra Video F500 Cell Phone - ReviewRun your eyes down the specs list for the tri-band, HSDPA F500 and you'll probably think it sounds like a top-notch device. So did we, until we got the chance to use one.

Samsung Ultra Video F500 Mobile Phone - Review

Design of the Samsung Ultra Video F500

We've seen a lot of unusual form factors in phones, but this one takes the cake. A double-sided, two-screened model that splits in half, the F500 is unique among handsets, and continues Samsung's form factor experimentation phase--also exhibited in the unconventional X830.

On the media player side everything is sleek and minimalist. There's a 2.4-inch QVGA wide-screen display and some touch-sensitive keys that you can either press once or drag your finger along in order to perform different functions. A centre hinge allows you to place the phone on a flat surface and watch your video content at a comfortable angle.

Flip the F500 over to the phone side, however, and it's like you've travelled back in time to 1992. The screen is very small--1.5 inches--and most of the real estate is taken up by a retro-looking keypad and menu navigation keys. With its black-and-silver color scheme and blocky contours, the phone reminds us of Nokia and Motorola models from around seven years ago.

While the phone is slim at 10.7mms, the footprint feels larger than its 116.5 x 50mm dimensions. This is due to the squarish silhouette, which tends toward high-school calculator shape--especially when you attach the backup battery cover.

Features of the Samsung Ultra Video F500

One of the big selling points of the F500 is that it supports the DivX video format. This format provides high quality, highly compressed video, so you can cram more onto your memory card and it will still look decent. It's also the format of choice for illegal file sharers, but we certainly wouldn't endorse that method of acquiring your video content. DivX converter software, which will turn your video files into DivX versions optimised for playback on the F500, is included with the phone.

The F500 has 350MB of internal memory--expandable by up to 2GB courtesy of a microSD slot. Our review model came with a 1GB card. There's a 2-megapixel camera on the phone side, and a TV-out cable is included, should you wish to view your snaps on the big screen.

Performance of the Samsung Ultra Video F500

We can deal with dodgy aesthetics if a phone's performance is first-rate, but sadly this wasn't the case with the F500. Among a laundry list of quirks was the maddening media player interface, which makes it a struggle to locate--and navigate through--your multimedia. The touch keys are also not intuitive, and when you transfer files with Samsung's PC Studio software, they tend to get stored in unexpected places. This isn't a phone you can just pick up and use--you'll want to have a read of the manual first.

On the phone side, the navigation keys surrounding the centre selection button annoyed us with their sunken placement and small size. Switching between phone and media player was also a fiddly affair, with the teeny slider button on the side sporting a rough surface that irritates the thumb.

There were a few things to like--converting video files with included software was an easy-peasy drag-and-drop process, and clips looked fabulous on the phone.

Overall, however, the F500 just frustrated us. As the first DivX-certified handset we've seen, we wanted to like it, but boy did it let us down. The screen on the phone side is too small, and the look is daggy, especially the calculator-style cover with backup battery. The kicker? This thing has an RRP of AU$1,099. Even DivX junkies will struggle to justify that level of cash outlay for a device with so many disappointments.

The box the handset comes in features a photograph of the device. Pictured on the phone's screen is a man aiming a large rifle into the distance, a spent cartridge jumping into the air as a bullet is propelled from the barrel. This image pretty much sums up how we feel about the Samsung F500. Give it a miss or risk being driven to violence.