Review: Samsung Galaxy Beam

Cost: Rs 29, 990

Rating: * * * *

Specifications: 1Ghz dual-core, 768MB RAM, 8GB + microSD, 4-inch touchscreen (800 x 480), 5MP rear/1.3MP front cam, Android 2.3, 145 grams

Positives: High-quality LED projector and decent Android smartphone in a not-too-bulky casing

Negatives: No tripod or stand included, sound doesn’t match the requirements, no cap for projector lens

NEW DELHI: A smartphone’s screen is way too small when you want to share a video or photo with friends. That’s why fitting a pico projector into a phone has been tried so many times with varying degrees of success.

The problem is that doing this considerably increases bulk and noticeably decreases battery life. Plus, all the projector phones available so far have been feature phones — not based on a smartphone operating system. The LED-based projection system has so far been more of a gimmick rather than a usable feature.

The Galaxy Beam is different though. It is India’s first smartphone with built in projector. Right at the outset, we think that the Beam is a good attempt at keeping things simple, attractive and making it perfectly usable as a day-to-day phone. That the projection quality is impressive is just icing on the cake.
Full Coverage on Apple’s new iPhone Look at it from the side and you won’t be able to tell that there’s a projector in there. The projector lens is on top of the phone, covered by a glass panel (but there is no lens cap). It has a total brightness of 15 lumens and a resolution of 640 x 360 pixels. These numbers may not seem that impressive, but you need to consider that we’re talking about a phone that weighs just 145 grams and is just 12.5mm thick. Under the right conditions (with low ambient lighting and with a flat white surface), the phone can project an image up to 50-inchs in size (diagonal size). Interestingly, the projector can also double up as a flashlight — one that projects a perfectly rectangular lightbeam and in your choice of colour.

To start the projector up, you need to press the dedicated button on the side of the phone. It starts up almost immediately and you can proceed to adjust the various settings, starting with the focus and orientation (landscape or portrait).

A nice bedside stand is included in the box, which also serves as a charger for an additional battery. The battery life when using it as a phone is roughly a day or two. Running it solely as a projector, you should get about three and a half hours of use.

Two of our main complaints with the Beam are that it does not come with a stand, tripod or mount of any kind for projector use. You’ll have to figure out a way to prop it up to get the ideal height and angle to display on a wall. And secondly, the loudspeaker is far too feeble to be of any use when you’re using it as a projector. To use it with multimedia, you will necessarily need some sort of external powered speaker system (either a wired or Blueooth speaker will do).

It boils down to this — as a phone, you’re not getting the best spec there is — but it is the best projector phone out there. If you prefer to keep things separate, you could get a standalone projector like 3M’s MP180 (Rs 29,990) which can project videos or photos from internal memory or micro SD card and a separate Android smartphone.

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