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Review: Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7

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Music on the Samsung Focus is fantastic, especially if you're a Zune subscriber. Even if you don't use Zune, the music player and the musical interface look great and function very well. I loved seeing album artwork downloaded automatically, and the phone even grabbed album reviews for some of my music. There aren't too many advanced playback or sound options, but that didn't hurt the experience much.

When you are playing a song in the background while performing other tasks, you can access music controls quickly by simply pressing the volume rocker up or down. Music controls drop down from the top of the screen, which seems incredibly intuitive.

Videos look fantastic on the Focus' Super AMOLED display, but I did have some trouble getting my files to play. A short, 5-minute clip I sideloaded using Microsoft's beta version of its Mac transfer software played with no trouble. But a feature film, encoded with the exact same specs, refused to play on this phone. I simply got an error message.

If you're a Mac user, don't expect that beta software to come packaged with a new phone. Microsoft still hasn't announced firm release plans for music transfer software, as the software is still being finalized. I did encounter some bugs, and the software stopped working entirely a couple days before this review was posted, but as long as the final version works perfectly, it should be a fine solution. The Mac software won't give Mac users access to the Zune subscription service, but it will offer a conduit to sideload music and movies, similar to the way DoubleTwist works for other, non-iOS devices.

I also tried the Netflix app on the Samsung Focus, available in the Marketplace, and I was delighted with the results. The interface fits nicely with the rest of the Windows Phone 7 design, as all third party apps are required to do. Movies started streaming quickly and looked great. I got better quality over Wi-Fi, but streaming still worked over AT&T's 3G network, and I could watch movies from my Instant Queue or pick new movies to stream instantly.


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