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Samsung Showcase 2004

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Samsung this week also revealed the i730, the successor to the i700 Windows Mobile Pocket PC device.


This feature-packed PDA-phone will compete head-to-head with the Audiovox 6600 (AKA the HTC Harrier). Both devices include EV-DO high-speed data, camera, Bluetooth, a sliding QWERTY keyboard, and an SDIO slot. Both devices will also run Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC 2nd Edition, which supports landscape display mode.

The Samsung gains an edge by including a megapixel camera with a sliding lens cover, compared to the lower-resolution VGA camera of the 6600. The Samsung also includes built-in stereo speakers. The Audiovox, however, has the advantage of an internal antenna. I believe the Samsung is also smaller, although I don't have exact size measurements, and haven't held them side-by-side.

Unfortunately, Samsung wasn't allowing photos of the i730's slide-out keyboard, so you'll just have to settle for my description of the keyboard for now. The keyboard is kind of like a cross between a Blackberry and the Treo 600, except squished to be narrower. The pill-shaped keys are "domed" exactly like a Treo 600, so they are very easy to feel and tell apart. They are also very narrow and close together side-to-side.

The keys are narrow and cramped enough that - at first glance - the keyboard looks unusable. But after spending a few minutes taking it for a test drive, I found it to work surprisingly well. Unfortunately, Samsung intentionally put a dead battery in the demo unit, so I couldn't verify it, but it certainly felt like I was hitting all the right keys with no problem, tapping away at a good clip. Those with larger fingers will want to make their own judgment, however.

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