pico projector
samsung galaxy beam

Gift Guide: Samsung Galaxy Beam

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Short Version

The Samsung Galaxy Beam is an Android-powered smartphone that has a pico projector embedded into its top edge so you can beam on-screen content onto a wall or other large surface. As well as projecting video and photo content, the projector can be used for presentations, decorative projections to create a mood, or for augmenting the phone’s alarm clock — by, for example, beaming the day’s weather forecast and your schedule onto the ceiling so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up.

Long Version

Features:

  • Built-in 15 lumens pico projector with resolution of 640×360
  • Dedicated projector button and app — offering a variety of projecting modes
  • 4-inch touchscreen display (480×800 resolution)
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • Dual-core 1GHz processor
  • 2,000 mAh battery (plus a spare in the box)
  • 5 megapixel rear camera, 1.3 megapixel front camera

Info:

The Samsung Galaxy Beam is…

… a mid-range 3G, Android Gingerbread-powered smartphone that would be entirely unremarkable if it weren’t for the pico projector Samsung has embedded in the phone’s top edge. The Beam has the photon-firing power to lift your digital stuff off the phone and throw it all over your walls — albeit, in a fairly grounded nHD resolution of 640×360. Glorious HD this is not, but it’s intended as a fun feature — not a replacement for your front room home cinema. That said, it is entirely possible to watch movies using the Beam’s projector — you just need to find a dark, cosy environment where the projection isn’t competing with outside light. High-contrast content looks the best, such as cartoons and animations, more subtle shades will just look murky.

The projector can be fired up via a physical button on the side of the phone, or by tapping on a dedicated app. The app lets you choose from multiple modes: the Quick Pad presentation mode that beams out whatever’s on screen and lets you scribble over it; Ambience mode projects decorative backgrounds plus music to create your own private disco; and Torch mode projects solid blocks of colour so you can have a scary Halloween sidekick. The projector can be a little thirsty on the battery but Samsung has put a very beefy cell in the Beam — and included a spare plus a charger-cum-phone-stand in the box — so you can be charging one battery while using the other to project. Each battery is good for around three hours of projecting time — so more than enough to watch a film. And for longer projecting sessions you just need to remember to keep one battery on charge so you always have a fully charged spare to swap to.

Elsewhere the phone is a fairly standard (i.e. mid-range) Gingerbread smartphone — with a dual-core 1GHz chip, 4-inch touchscreen, and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Samsung has previously said the Beam will get an update to Ice Cream Sandwich but don’t rely on that happening. The phone dishes up adequate Internet browsing performance, and will even handle 3D games — just don’t expect it to be a powerhouse. That’s not the point of the Beam: it’s all about the projector.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Beam for…

… bedroom-loving teenagers who are addicted to watching YouTube/music videos and want a fun gadget to impress their friends with.

Because…

… with its embedded pico-projector, the Beam has a pretty unique boast. Every smartphone under the sun can run apps and surf the web, but it’s a rare phone that can turn your bedroom into a micro cinema at the push of a button. Sure, the Beam is not a super-powered or super speedy phone, but it’s got enough power under its hood for the average user and — more importantly — it brings a little light into their life.

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