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By Thomas McKinnon 18 June 2009

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Samsung are renowned for pushing the envelope with their 8 megapixel camera phones. Something it looks set to do again in the near future with the promise of a 12 megapixel range in late 2009.

The Innov8 and Pixon are top of mind in this regard. Their new 8 megapixel, the Tocco S8300, has consequently got quite a bit to live up to.

Design

The Tocco is a fairly slim slider at just 12.7 mm thick. It looks rather sophisticated with a two-tone grey, brushed steel case and metallic red trim colour scheme and angular design. Its slide-out keypad is also well proportioned and easy to use. On the whole we were impressed with its design and build quality, but there was something else which really impressed us; its display.

Display

The S8300 is not dissimilar to the Innov8 with its slide form factor and 2.8\" touch-screen display. It does however have a few tricks up its sleeve. It has an Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) display. The display is consequently one of the best we’ve ever seen.

The fact that the device supports DivX/XviD out the box makes it quite obvious that this is the ideal mobile video viewing handset. 

User Interface

The S8300 provides both a full touch-screen experience, complete with on-screen keyboard, and a hardware alpha-numeric keypad

The device also features a capacitive touch-screen, as opposed to the non- capacitive screens that were utilised on the Omnia, Innov8 and Pixon. What this means is that the device is responsive to the heat in your finger tips rather than pressure. Capacitive screens generally offer a more fluid and responsive touch experience and are often associated with multi-touch devices like the iPhone.

It, however, does not feature multi-touch technology. Neither is the touch experience it offers as fluid and responsive as it should be. It suffers from interface lag at times, especially when using the widget bar, which is very frustrating. You often find yourself pressing the screen twice or three times to open an application.

The other interface problems we encountered include the lack of a directional (D-pad) and the lack of a hardware Backspace key. Instead of a directional keypad the S8300 sports a single Return key. This sounds rather innocuous, but what it does mean is that there is a learning curve involved in using the keypad- if you’ve ever used a phone with a directional keypad you’ll find yourself inadvertently exiting applications on the S8300 until you get used to it.

Further, the lack of a physical Backspace key seems counter-intuitive. When messaging you can either use the hardware keypad or onscreen keypad to type a message. But, if you want to erase a letter or word then you’re left with the on-screen keypad alone. This is immensely irritating if you prefer to type using the hardware keypad and often makes the hardware keypad seem pointless.

Features

The S8300’s 8 megapixel camera is a showstopper. The camera features an effective LED flash, four focus modes, a number of white balance presets and anti-shake technology. It is a very capable camera and will meet the needs of anyone who places a priority on taking good pics on the go.

The phone also features a full compliment of document viewers (PDF, Excel and Word). This gives the phone a bit of a business edge, but this is a bit of false hope, as the Samsung proprietary OS lacks exchange support.

While the S8300 does support HSDPA, which really makes a difference to internet browsing, it does lack Wi-Fi connectivity and its preinstalled browser is not the friendliest or most powerful we’ve come across. You’re far better off downloading Opera Mini if browsing is a priority.

As mentioned earlier the S8300 really is a video viewing powerhouse, something it reinforces with a decent suite of multimedia players. Its video player is top-notch when it comes to ease of use and its picture viewer and music player are equally good. What lets it multimedia capabilities down a bit is the lack of a 3.5 mm jack- a feature that would really have made this one of the most appealing multimedia devices around.

Another of its draw-cards is the use of a microUSB port to charge the device, rather than Samsung’s proprietary port. This is inline with agreements signed by phone manufactures at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona this year to use a standard charging platform.

Conclusion

We were surprisingly taken with the S8300, especially with its multimedia offerings and camera quality. The device’s shortcomings are fairly obvious though. Its interface lag, weird hardware-software compatibility issues and lack of business capabilities lets it down. The fact that the device will cost you in excess of R6000 only serves to highlight these shortcomings, for that kind of money you really do expect a business savvy smartphone.

PROS
Its AMOLED display is truly phenomenal and its 8 MP camera is very capable.
CONS
The interface lags which can become rather frustrating and it lack Wi-Fi support.
USER COMMENTS

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