Samsung X830 review:

Samsung X830

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Scroll wheel; 1GB on-board memory.

The Bad Lack of expandable memory slot; narrow screen and keypad.

The Bottom Line The X830 is a passable MP3 player, but it's too narrow to use as a mobile phone. Texting and dialling aren't easy and the small screen makes using some of the functions difficult. The 1GB of on-board memory and scroll wheel make it worth checking out, but keep in mind that using it will take some getting used to

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6.5 Overall

The Samsung X830 looks like an MP3 player and works much like one too. As a music machine it's decent enough, with 1GB of memory enough for storing around 240 songs and an iPod-like scroll wheel on the front so that you can quickly search through tracks. But the innovative, flick-knife design means sacrifices have been made when using it as a phone.

The X830 is available free on a monthly contract from most networks.

If you're looking for a mobile that's a little out of the ordinary, then the Samsung X830 is right up your street. It's a swivelling music phone that flicks open like a switchblade, with a narrow colour screen that's just 19mm wide by 32mm tall.

The design of the main control has been 'influenced' rather heavily by the iPod -- it's a mechanical scroll wheel with a select button in the middle. It lets you navigate through the menus and all your tracks as you would on Apple's player, and also acts as a four-way navigation pad. Annoyingly, some options, including the menu, can only be selected using the soft keys rather than the scroll wheel.

The MP3 theme is carried through to the rest of the device. On the left there's a hold button for locking the MP3 player, with the volume rocker on the right. We're disappointed to see a proprietary headphone port, rather than a standard 3.5mm jack, but at least you get a 3.5mm adaptor in the box that also lets you make hands-free calls, so you'll still be able to use your own headphones.

Just nudge the top section and the X830's spring-loaded opening mechanism quickly pops open. There isn't much to grip, making it tempting to use two hands to open it, but after some practice it is possible to open it with one.

Using the keypad is awkward as the numbers are arranged in two columns rather than three. Samsung didn't have much choice here -- if it didn't do this, the USB-stick shape wouldn't have been possible. But it makes calling and texting more of a trial than it should be.

At the rear is a 1.3-megapixel camera. There's no LED photo light or flash, but you do get a small mirror to help take your own picture.

Music is the X830's most important feature, and the player is decent, if a little simplistic. You have options to set your music to repeat or shuffle, adjust the equaliser, fade out music or turn on 3D sound.

To access the player after you've turned the phone on, you need to open the phone, load the music program, then close the phone, which is a little annoying. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this again until the next time you turn the phone off and on.

There's 1GB of memory on-board that can store about 240 songs, although we're disappointed that there's no memory slot to expand this.

In order to get your music on to the X830, you can use the provided PC software or synchronise it with a variety of music programs such as Windows Media Player or Winamp.

The X830 supports a variety of digital music formats, including MP3 and WMA, and you can also play MPEG-4 videos. There's no FM radio, which is a shame.

The other main feature is a 1.3-megapixel camera on the back that lets you take still photographs and video. You can add a variety of effects, including sepia or moonlight, and frames. You can also adjust the quality, size, white balance and the ISO level. There's a timer for those moments when you want to be in the shot too.

Other features include Bluetooth, SMS and MMS messaging, a voice recorder, polyphonic ring tones, a calendar, a to-do list, a scheduler, a clock, world time, an alarm, a timer, a stopwatch, a calculator, a currency converter and Java games.

Using Samsung's PC software you can also hook it up to your PC via the provided USB cable and synchronise it with Outlook, send SMS messages and transfer files. It will also let you use your phone as a modem, but as there's no 3G, the connection is very slow. There's also a Web browser, but we found it very difficult to use due to the narrow screen.

Audio quality during calls is clear and loud with no noticeable distortion during calls. Music sounds acceptable, but there was some distortion on bass-heavy music like hip-hop. We listened to 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Trying and noticed that the low end was slightly muddy.

The 1.3-megapixel camera worked as expected, with shots usable for MMS messages but blurry when displayed on a large screen. The lack of auto focus and a flash meant taking decent shots was practically impossible, but if you just want a camera to take the odd shot to share with friends then it will suffice.

Battery life is quoted at around 230 hours standby time and 5.2 hours talk time. Using the MP3 player and phone in our testing we found that the battery lasted just over two days before we had to recharge.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide

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