February 02, 2013 00:00 By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
Samsung's new Windows 8 phone is ideal for work and for play
Samsung’s first smartphone based on the Windows 8 phone platform, the Ativ S not only looks elegant but also offers great performance.
It sports a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display with 1280 x 720 (HD) pixel resolution and is super skinny at just 8.7-mm thick. It looks sexy too with a metallic finish on the back cover and attractive curved edges.
The phone’s good performance can be credited to the processing power from the 15 GHz dual-core processor.
There’s an 8 megapixel main camera that’s capable of shooting full HD 1080p video a 1.9 megapixel front camera for quick snapshots
The Ativ S supports HSPA+ 3G connection with a peak speed of 42 Mbps and can be used with all major 3G operators in Thailand.
I tested it on True Move H HSPA+ 850 MHz network and found the connection speed pleasingly fast. Downloading of applications was quickly achieved and I had no problem checking and updating my Facebook wall on the go. Email checking was fast as was web browsing with the provided Internet Explorer 10. I took snapshots and was able to post them to my Facebook wall in no time at all.
Since it runs on the Windows Phone 8 platform, the Ativ S comes with SkyDrive service. After you have added your Microsoft account or Hotmail account to the phone, it will automatically back up your snapshots to your SkyDrive account.
Again, I tested it with TrueMove H 3G network and found it backed up my snapshots to my SkyDrive cloud storage without problem.
The Ativ S has a good quality camera, offering snapshots that are surprisingly sharp and clean for a mobile phone. The HD Super AMOLED screen is very good for watching video, viewing photos, reading mails and websites thanks to its brightness and vibrant colours. The screen is also readable under direct sunlight, which is a plus.
I found the scrolling of web pages very smooth and the touch screen very responsive. Casual games ran fast and video and music played smoothly without performance hiccups.
Its music player played good quality sounds. I tested the music player function with my Sony premium in-ear headphones and was impressed by the quality.
The Windows Phone 8’s music player is part of the OS’s Music + Videos Hub, meaning that it’s also linked to the Xbox music store. Here you can buy songs online, listen to song samples or buy an Xbox Music Pass to download or stream music from a global catalogue of some 30 million songs to your Windows phone.
The Ativ S was the first Windows Phone 8 I had tried and I liked it. Windows Phone 8 is a very intuitive platform and I found it easy to navigate through the functions and utilities.
Windows Phone 8 presents apps that you can tap on to access as Live Tiles on the phone’s Start screen. You can pin apps, the people on your contact list, songs, websites, directories, games, photos and documents on the Start screen.
For example, to pin a new app you have just downloaded and installed, you simply tab the app title and press lightly until the pin option appears. If you want to unpin an app from the Start screen, you again tap and hold your finger on the app Live Tile until an icon for unpinning the app shows.
When you reach the bottom of the Start screen, you will find a right arrow. Tap on this to bring the screen of all apps presented as a list. Another option is to slide the Start screen to the left: the result is the same.
You can download more apps from Windows Phone Store. It’s been said there are not many apps for the Windows Phone platform but Microsoft denies this, saying more than 125,000 apps and games are now available. During the test, I was able to find all the apps I use regularly, including YouTube, Facebook, Skype, TuneIn Radio, WeChat, Line, Foursquare and Twitter. However, the popular Instagram has not yet been released for Windows Phone 8 platform.
The OS itself is preloaded with all necessary services - Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft Office for Windows Phone 8 (PowerPoint, Word, Excel, OneNote), Bing Search, Bing Map, SkyDrive, Windows Store, Music, Video, Games, Wallet Hub, and DataSmart.
The SkyDrive service is particularly useful. Microsoft gives you 7 GB of cloud storage and ATIV S will automatically upload every photo and video you take with the phone.
Windows Phone 8 presents its services as hubs and they include the People Hub, Games Hub, Office Hub and Music + Videos Hub.
You’ll find your contacts in the People Hub, so you can kick off conversations by making phone calls, sending SMS mes
sages, instant messages and emails. You can also use the People Hub to check out your friends’ latest posts and photos. The People Hub also has a Family Room where you can invite your friends or family members to chat privately, have a group chat or share a calendar and photos.
In the Games Hub, you can dress up your avatar, message your Xbox friends, and see how your scores and achievements measure up. If you have an Xbox game console, you can add the SmartGlass app to control your Xbox with your phone.
The Office Hub is very useful. Here you can start a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet on your computer, then sync it to SkyDrive as you leave home. Then you can write or edit some more on your phone within the Office Hub.
Samsung also provides useful apps with Ativ S on top of Windows Phone 8’s native apps including Photo Editor and Mini Diary.
The Photo Editor lets you perform basic editing of your snapshots right away on the phone and add fun effects to your photos.
The Mini Diary is fun to use, allowing you to make your journal come to life through the addition of photos, voice messages, drawings and GPS locations.
Windows Phone 8 also lets you search for, erase or lock your phone if it is stolen. You need to turn on the option Find My Phone then go Windowsphone.com/en-us/my to use the service.
On the My Windows Phone home page, you will also be able to access your snapshots that have been uploaded to your SkyDrive storage, your Xbox progress, and your Office documents on the SkyDrive.
Samsung ATIV S has a suggested retail price of Bt17,900 and comes with a free 16 GB microSD card.