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Review: Samsung Nexus S

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The Web browser on the Samsung Nexus S is unchanged from previous Android browsers. The rendering engine does a fine job producing pages that look identical to desktop pages. The browser can handle Flash videos, and playback was very smooth at best, though sometimes it could be choppy or slow to load. But I enjoyed watching streaming videos on CNN's homepage (even with CNN's annoyingly long video ads). For best results, you can tell plug-ins like Flash 10.1 to only download videos on demand, so you can pick and choose which Flash animations play on a crowded Web page.

Though the browser itself does a fine job, I'd like to see an update in the bookmarks and settings menus for the Web browser app. Bookmarks are looking crowded and aging, and the settings can be confusing to deal with, especially if you want to adjust your Flash settings.

Otherwise, it was easy to navigate Web pages. I could flick through long pages quickly, or zoom in and out with a simple pinching gesture. Android remains the best smartphone platform for Web browsing.

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Though Android itself offers plenty of customizations, the real work for fans of the pure Google experience has just begun. After only a day on the market, modders had already unlocked the Nexus S bootloader, which means custom ROMs and other system tweaks are just around the corner. It's possible that many of the missing features and buggy problems I encountered in the Nexus S will be dealt with by the modding community. If you know your way around a terminal app and are not afraid of leaving the beaten path, the Samsung Nexus S will surely open up a world of possibilities. I'm especially curious to see how the community adapts the NFC features on this device. But if you aren't interested in these advanced tweaks and custom options, the Nexus S might not be the right device for you, and there are plenty of good Android phones that offer a customized experience from the manufacturer with even more useful goodies right from the start, no hacking required.


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