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Samsung Continuum Hands-On: A Neat Concept...

Nov 8 2010, 7:05pm CST | by , in News | Android

Samsung Continuum Hands-On: A Neat Concept...
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But so far, we're unimpressed

News broke earlier today about the Samsung Continuum, the latest Galaxy S Android phone with a Super AMOLED display and all of Samsung's high-end smartphone specs. We got a hands-out tour with it at a media event tonight.

So the Continuum is the first phone in the world to have a dedicated "ticker screen." That is, it has a small, 1.8-inch screen at the bottom of the device that streams all of your most important info - RSS feeds, message alerts, time and weather, and voicemail notifications. This screen functions independently of the main, 4.3-inch screen so you can not only multitask, you can "hypertask" (Samsung's word).

The ticker has seven different "modes," which are as follows:

- Standby: Default screen that shows weather and time
- Missed Notifications: A quick glance at unread messages, RSS notes, and voicemail
- SMS Mode: Immediate SMS controls when viewing text messages
- RSS Feeds: Including 10 pre-loaded feeds
- Ticker History: Every ticker update
- VZ Navigator: Displays next-turn directions
- Multimedia: Music and video playback controls

Some of these, like VZ Navigator and Multimedia, automatically pop up when you access a related application on the main screen.

Unfortunately, it comes with Android 2.1 installed instead of 2.2. That particular spec reminds us that none of Samsung's Galaxy S devices have received the 2.2 upgrade.

Even though it isn't actually a "Froyo" device yet, Samsung is already touting it as a phone with mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities. The company promises an Android 2.2 upgrade "in the short run."

We ran through a crash course of the device and thought it was a cool concept, but really nothing too revolutionary. The info it displays, for the most part, is the same kind of info that the top notification bar of Android already displays.

The media controls and VZ navigator controls are neat additions, and really the only things that stand out. But those features will only be used sparingly for most users.

What we'd like to see instead are Facebook and Twitter streams, one-touch call controls (e.g., click one button to call the person you call most frequently), and immediate access to Wi-Fi/GPS/Bluetooth controls.

Having a dedicated secondary screen is a valuable asset, but it's not really worthwhile if it doesn't do anything to save you time or productivity. We can already see if we have an unread text or unheard voicemail. We can already get RSS feeds pushed to the notification window.

Surely the ticker screen is changeable and could get more functionality in the long run, but after playing with it for a couple minutes and thinking, "What's the point?" we really left kind of underwhelmed.

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