While mobile phones that can double as an analog TVs aren’t exactly new (e.g.. China phones), most of them still fall way below our expectations of how a mobile TV experience should be. Still, you can’t fault manufacturers for constantly making analog TV-mobile phone hybrids because of their potential. So, when we got hold of the new Samsung Star S5233T, we were curious if it will be able to deliver where many of its kind failed.
Look and feel
Let’s face it, touchscreen devices, especially those with large displays, look eerily similar to each other, and the S5233T is no exception. Its front is dominated by a 3-inch touchscreen while 3 buttons (call, back, drop) are found below the display. The S5233T also sports a glossy black finish that makes it look elegant and it’s much lighter compared to similar sized handsets
Imprinted “dots” fill the back cover which gives the phone a texturized feel, potentially avoiding sudden slippage from your hands. One thing that we don’t care about the S5233T’s looks is its bezel, which is slightly thicker than those found on other touchscreen mobiles
It’s also worth noting that the S5233T’s touchscreen is among the most responsive resistive touchscreens that we’ve used. It almost feels like it’s a capacitative touchscreen, something that improves further on the phone’s user-friendliness.
The S5233T has a few basic multimedia features to keep you entertained. Aside from the analog TV (which we’ll get to in a bit), it has a video player that can play MP4 and H.263 files, a music player that can play MP3s, WAV and a slew of other audio formats as well as an FM radio tuner. The phone’s built-in speakers perform decently enough that you can listen to music files or watch videos without having to resort to the supplied earphones for better audio quality.
While not at par with the cameras found on other, more expensive mobile phones like the Pixon12, the S5233T’s 3.2-megapixel camera still delivers well if you’re only looking for photos to upload to Facebook. It also has a few features normally found on digital cameras like scene and shooting modes and effects to supplement its basic shooting capabilities. However, be wary if you’re going to use the camera at night or in low-light sutuations because, sadly, there’s nos built-in flash and even the camera’s night mode doesn’t help that much.
Now this is what separates the S5233T from other mobile phones – its built-in analog TV tuner. If we’re going to build on our experiences of other TV-phone hybrids in the past, then it’s better to keep our expectations at a minimum. However, we were surprised that the mobile TV experience provided by the S5233T exceeded our low expectations.
TV shows on the S5233T look much better than what you could expect from China TV-phone hybrids, thanks primarily to the large display. Images came out quite clear (granted you have very good reception) and the audio quality is decent (for a small phone). Sadly, the S5233T doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio jack, something that would’ve perfectly complemented its mobile TV feature.
However, getting analog TV signals isn’t always easy. Though there is a noticeable improvement on how fast the S5233T gets TV reception, the experience is still quite annoying overall. You have to keep the phone perfectly still because a bump or tilt could cause you to lose your feed (and if this happens, getting it back is a pain). The supplied antenna is quite useful in the city although its effectivity decreases gradually as you move farther away from civilization.
Several nifty features also come along with the S5233T’s mobile TV. You can capture stills of TV shows and even record your favorite TV shows as you are watching them if you want to view them again at a later time.
In terms of battery life, the S5233T performed fairly well. Without using the mobile TV, we were able get over two days worth of juice from a single charge. Using the mobile TV along with the mobile phone’s basic functions (making calls, texts, etc.), we were able to eke out just over a day’s use before the battery was completely washed out. Hardly impressive, but acceptable nonetheless.
The Samsung Star S5233T is a pretty good gadget, to put it simply. It performed well, first and foremost, as a mobile phone and decently as a mobile TV. Sure, it won’t replace your good ‘ol TV sets, not by a long shot, but it still offers a few welcome improvements in mobile TV viewing and a glimpse of its potential. So, if you’re someone who’s looking for a good mobile phone that you can use to view your fave soaps on the fly, then the S5233T is definitely for you.
Click here to view the Samsung Star S5233T in the Buyer’s Guide