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A Phone For a Museum -- Not Your Pocket!

A Phone For a Museum -- Not Your Pocket!

Bang & Olufsen is to high-end electronics what Ferrari is to cars. Top of the line. Quality. Beauty. And, of course, unique.

So it's only natural that B&O would explore a cell phone that would stand out like no other. It decided to have Samsung (a decent choice) handle the technical part while working its own magic on the design. (The Serene isn't officially available in the U.S., but CNET Asia has taken a look at it.)

The result? A product that would get the attention of everyone from Bill Clinton to Nicole Kidman. Yet one that, aside from aesthetics, thoroughly disappoints.

The Serene phone belongs in the Museum of Modern Art, not in your pocket. For one thing, it's clunky by today's standards. The comfortable rubberized casing still feels awkward.

It's not square. It's not a candy bar. It's unbalanced. Its shape is, well, weird. Perhaps the heavy dialpad on top and the light screen on the bottom have something to do with it. True, you can switch them around, but in so doing the strange keypad becomes even more confusing.

And let's talk about the pad--iPod meets an old rotary dial. That's right. The numbers are in a circle. Text messaging is like playing Twister. Why? It's different. And ? it's different. No other reason comes to mind.

As for the iPod-like button, yes, you move your finger around to get to the section you want. Sounds simple, but it isn't. Easy to overshoot, tough menu to maneuver.

Let's not totally diss this product. Its quality is excellent, and the phone is flawlessly constructed. But when you're paying more than $1,000 (yes, you read right), usability shouldn't become a victim of fashion. Far better to spend a few hundred on a Motorola Razr--it may be more common, but it's comfortable and looks pretty good too.

If you need to stand out and feel that this kind of money for a phone isn't a big deal, spend a few hundred more and have the Razr painted a color no one else has. Or get that Ferrari.