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Samsung SCH-A950

 

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SCH-A950 Review

matthoff

Nov 9, 2005, 2:58 PM
Samsung SCH-A950 Review by Matt Hoffman (matthoff@cox.net)
The Samsung SCH-A950 is one of the worst implemented pieces of technology I have seen in recent years. The hardware has a whole list of nice features including stereo speakers, 1.5 megapixel camera, and bluetooth, but the software has been hobbled and poorly implemented by Verizon and Samsung.


User Interface
The user interface is very minimal with pull down menus instead of a graphical user interface. Many of the menu items are not in logical places. For instance, the menu for playing mp3 files is buried two levels down under a menu called, for no logical reason, "Get It Now". The user must go to this illogically named menu then into a submenu called "Get Tones & Tunes" then ...
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phone_in_STL

Nov 10, 2005, 12:36 AM
If all someone is concerned about is the MP3 ability, then this phone may not be perfect, to be sure.

However, the bottom line of a phone is to be A PHONE, and everything else is secondary.

Most of this review may be accurate, but it is all focused on the shortcomings of the MP3 player, which is just a mere feature of the phone.

I'm no apologist, but the reception, call clarity, and overall build of this phone have been nothing short of impressive to me.

And it sounds a bit misleading what you write about accessing the MP3's. You may have to go through those menus to select them intially (just after you first transfer the card), but once that is done, all you have to do is hit the play button on the front of the phone to start up...
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matthoff

Nov 10, 2005, 2:27 AM
This phone is advertised as the "MP3 Maestro". I think it is reasonable to focus on the MP3 features. Yes, the phone does make calls and receive calls. I do not believe that everything else is secondary. If they were, then why would you even consider a phone that costs more than $50? Samsung calls this phone the "MP3 Maestro" and touts it as an MP3 player.


" but once that is done, all you have to do is hit the play button on the front of the phone to start up the MP3 player"

No, hitting that button shows the list of all songs on the transflash card and allows you to play begining with the one you select.

My point in the review about this is that you do not have access to play lists (because they don't exist) using the button on t...
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matthoff

Nov 10, 2005, 2:34 AM
I believe my review could use some clarity about the jog wheel and the an introduction to frame the scope a bit. Here is a revised version:

Samsung SCH-A950 Review by Matt Hoffman (matthoff@cox.net)
The Samsung SCH-A950 is one of the worst implemented pieces of technology I have seen in recent years. The hardware has a whole list of nice features including stereo speakers, 1.5 megapixel camera, and bluetooth, but the software has been hobbled and poorly implemented by Verizon and Samsung.
As a phone, it works fine. It receives calls, it makes calls. Reception is acceptable (though not as good as the Samsung SCH-A530). The antenna is buried in the head of the phone which can be cool unless you hold the phone too high up and block the si...
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wtwieder

Nov 10, 2005, 12:13 PM
I don't understand why the reviewer is so concerned that the mp3 player doesn't operate like a stand alone mp3 player, when at the same time he has no problems with the camera which he admits isn't as good as a stand alone camera but still is fine with him. It would seem that his priority is the mp3 player and how it performs, beyond any other feature on the phone, including how it operates as a phone. Not saying anything about the phone as a phone is a major omission in my opinion. There are many phones out there that fail as phones, and one shouldn't assume this is a given with this or any other phone at any price. (e.g., look at all the complaints about the similarly featured LG vx-8100 and its volume problems) His presumption is that...
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matthoff

Nov 10, 2005, 12:25 PM
The phone is not sold as the Samsung "Camera Super Phone". It IS sold as the Samsung "MP3 Maestro". This clearly implies more than minimal MP3 functionality.

Since the phone is called the "MP3 Maestro", I believe it is logical to assume that people are paying extra for the MP3 features! It is also logical to assume that a buyer would want the most common (and little more than minimal) features in an MP3 player in a phone so marketed.

Sure, $50 is a good deal for the phone if that is what you paid. But that isn't the point. The fact that you waited 2 years to get a good deal on the phone probably is the exceptional case and not the rule. Would you have felt better if I had written, "This phone is a good deal if you can get it for $50, ...
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phone_in_STL

Nov 10, 2005, 1:24 PM
If you're saying the phone doesn't live up to the billing as the "MP3 Maestro," that is fine. I have no doubt that improvements could/should be made, and perhaps some of that could be approached in an upcoming software update.

But I have an iPod. Most people do nowadays. I see the MP3 playability as a nice added bonus; like a sunroof on a well-built car.

I'd actually agree with you on the aspect that if someone is buying a phone with MP3 navigation and access as their #1 need, this phone is not the "maestro."

But calling it an "utter failure" would be inaccurate, wouldn't you say? I would think an "utter failure" would mean it flat-out fails to even play the MP3's; wouldn't cooperate with certain computers; would play them back ...
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matthoff

Nov 10, 2005, 2:53 PM
"As the "MP3 Maestro" I believe this phone is an utter failure. As a $50 cell phone, I think this phone is a fine deal. For $50 you get a 1.3MP camera, some video capability, a nice speakerphone, etc."

Since they call it the "MP3 Maestro", I thin it is fair to expect it to have the basic MP3 functionality that one finds in any other MP3 product.
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wtwieder

Nov 11, 2005, 9:30 AM
I absolutely agree with you. This reviewer is so focused on the name of the phone and that perhaps it is misnamed a "maestro" that he can't see this phone for what it really is. It isn't a dedicated mp3 player any more than it is a dedicated camera. It is really a phone, and a very good phone at that, with extra features that are not meant to compete with stand alone devices. To expect because of its name that for $50 or for $350 (full list), that this phone is going to do everything as well as stand alone devices costing together much more could be wishful thinking for the future but shouldn't be for the present. Some day we should have exactly what he wants and better in an affordable package. But you shouldn't call this phone a fa...
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matthoff

Nov 11, 2005, 10:38 AM
What I said was, "As the "MP3 Maestro" I believe this phone is an utter failure."

It's called the "MP3 Maestro" and it retails for $350.
Why wouldn't the phone be expected to have features found in standalone MP3 players? These are just minor software features we are talking about there (play lists, connectivity, etc.).
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wtwieder

Nov 11, 2005, 1:09 PM
I just accessed Samsung's website. This is an exact quote of their advertising claims for this phone:
"SCH-a950
MP3 Maestro
More than just a pretty form factor, the SCH-a950 can play MP3 masterpieces and serve up your favorite tunes."

Can you honestly say that Samsung doesn't live up to their advertising claim? MP3 maestro refers to its capability of playing mp3 masterpieces or playing your favorite tunes. It doesn't promise all the features that we wish it had that are found in stand alone player. Just like the camera is meant for just an occasional snap shot and is not meant to replace a professional camera, this mp3 player is similarly not meant to replace stand alone players. To call it an utter failure as a Maestro mak...
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palermo22

Nov 11, 2005, 2:18 PM
I have stated this over and over: these phones (yes they are primarily phones) should be reviewed first on their recognition as being a phone - after all, if it looks like a phone and acts like a phone then by golly it is a phone! Just because it also can play MP3s and be a camera and perhaps wash your dishes - hey folks get real - it is a phone with the manufacturer adding on the goodies to attract the kiddies out there (otherwise known as teenagers). I am willing to bet that most sophisticated buyers of a cell phone already have an MP3 player and a digital camera (and a dishwasher as well). So when you make your reviews concentrate on the phone capabilities first and all of the extras as an afterthought.
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Mary424

Nov 11, 2005, 3:08 PM
Exactly. If you want a camera, buy a camera. If you want an MP3 player, but an IPOD. If you want a cell phone, buy a cell phone! If you get that cell phone and it has a camera and the ability to play MP3's at all, then that's pretty cool, no matter how limited.
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Lex202

Nov 13, 2005, 4:49 PM
I have encountered a more serious problem than the lack of a`playlist feature -- when I play MP3s, I hear an occasional squeak noise -- some sort of codec problem - several times per song. This problem appears to occur more on MP3 recorded at 320k vs those recorded at 112k. Also, the problem lessens the longer you use the MP3 playback aspect. My guess is that the MP3 playback software has some sort of timing problem. These MP3s play fine on a Sony MP3/CD player, and on various computers I have, yet the SCH-A950 has this problem. The problem occurs via headset as well as the phone's speakers. I concur with others who are unhappy that the phone has no adapter cable for the computer allowing transfer of songs and photos.
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palermo22

Nov 13, 2005, 7:21 PM
WTWEIDER: I just read your review so I know what you think of the phone. I guess it's been a few weeks since your review - do you feel the same way about the phone - any discovered problems? Also, I read on Howard Forums that some 950 users were having a volume problem - fading in and out (sounds like the same problem associated with the 8100) - have you experienced anything like that?

Thanks
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wtwieder

Nov 13, 2005, 8:26 PM
I have not had any of the call quality issues that were reported on the other forum. The problems that people are reporting I believe are do to network problems, noise, congestion, in certain regions. The reason I believe this is because people with this problem exchange their phones for new ones and still have the problem. The only to time I experienced anything like what these people were talking about was when I called a noisy recorded message. My phone cut in and out trying to get rid of the noise (it was a hissy recording) and the beginning syllables of some words were cut off. I didn't notice the hiss with the a-950 but did when I called the same number with a land phone where none of the words were clipped. I have not experienced...
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palermo22

Nov 14, 2005, 3:35 PM
Great! Thanks
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matthoff

Nov 11, 2005, 5:18 PM
"Can you honestly say that Samsung doesn't live up to their advertising claim? MP3 maestro refers to its capability of playing mp3 masterpieces or playing your favorite tunes. It doesn't promise all the features that we wish it had that are found in stand alone player."

Yes, I can honestly say that Samsung does not live up to the hype. There are two basic things this phone lacks that all other mp3 players have. The ability to make some sort of stored list of songs to play and connect the phone to a computer (wire or wireless) to move songs back and forth.


"Just like the camera is meant for just an occasional snap shot and is not meant to replace a professional camera, this mp3 player is similarly not meant to replace stand alone p...
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Mary424

Nov 11, 2005, 6:35 PM
OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! Get over it!!!!!!!!!!!!! The price of the phone is about more than just the MP3 player and you stated "There aretwo basic things this phone lacks that all other mp3 players have" Well, again.....IT IS NOT AN MP3 PLAYER, IT IS A PHONE WITH MP3 CAPABILITIES!!!!!!! "MP3 MAESTRO" DOESN'T MEAN IT IS LIKE A REGULAR MP3 PLAYER WITH A PHONE BUILT IN!!!!!!!
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matthoff

Nov 11, 2005, 8:47 PM
I don't believe I said or implied that it was an mp3 player with a phone built in. I said that this phone separates itself from other phones by adding MP3 player features and charging about $150 over other phones (phones with cameras).

Since you are paying an extra $150 for an MP3 player, it is only fair give special attention in the review to the features of the MP3 player.

If you payed $50 for this phone because of NE2 and the rebate, then I think you got a very good deal. If you paid full retail for this phone, you did not.
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Mary424

Nov 12, 2005, 12:45 AM
What about the 8100 or the 9800??????
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matthoff

Nov 12, 2005, 12:39 PM
What about them? This review covered just one phone based on its marketed features and price. The intention was not to say this phone is better or worse than another phone or to make recommendations about which phone to purchase.
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Mary424

Nov 12, 2005, 1:25 PM
I was just saying that those phones, too, carry a high price and have an MP3 player.....You know what, nevermind. I'm not going to argue with you. You are obviously the type of person who thinks he is always right, knows everything and won't listen to reason, so I give up! Enjoy living in your own little world.
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matthoff

Nov 12, 2005, 1:39 PM
I think I have made a series of observations and logical arguments about the features (or lack of features) on the SCH-A950. The featurse of another phone are an important factor in deciding which phone to select, but I find that separate reviews of each product are more valuable that one overarching document that tries to compare the phones feature by feature.
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wtwieder

Nov 12, 2005, 10:48 PM
In my opinion, your arguments aren't logical at all, mainly because most of your review is based on comparing the a-950, a mp3 player phone, to stand alone mp3 players, and then complaining they are different. Should that be such a surprise that they are different, when they are different items with different overall design purposes. One was made to multitask and the other was made only to do one job. Had you compared the a-950 to any competing mp3 player cell phone, you wouldn't have had much to complain about with the a-950 specifically, because as mp3 players all mp3 player phones are all pretty much the same. To be sure they are all are limited when compared with the stand alone mp3 player, but they just aren't stand alone mp3 playe...
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palermo22

Nov 13, 2005, 7:17 PM
Well stated!

WTWEIDER: do you have the 950 and, if so, what are your observations of it - strictly the phone part (I could care less whether it was a decent MP3 player)?

Thanks
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