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Samsung Vibrant Gaming Review: Part 2

As you may have read my overview then you will know that the over all impression of the Galaxy S series as a gaming platform is pretty high. Right now I am looking at the T-mobile Vibrant version and everything wrote here is based on that unit only. The Galaxy S series is broken into 4 different phones, 1 for every major carrier.

As the phone’s go they are all the same on the insides with the same CPU/GPU and memory. The outside is where the differences come in. As you can see in the picture your up for quite a hull no matter which you choose.

So lets see how this baby rolls for gaming, is it good is it bad, or is it just like all the other phones on the market.

The Screen

The Super AMOLED 4” WVGA 800×480 display is by far one of the tastiest screens your eyes can feast on. I have seen the Iphone’s new screen and though it is a very detailed display it simply cannot match the Super AMOLED’s ability to saturate the screen with pure color and the darkest blacks. When I picked up my Nexus One I thought the screen was simply amazing, but the screen on the Galaxy series blows it away. It is by far the brightest and most colorful screen I have seen on any device anywhere. But how does that translate into a gaming machine. Well lets just say it’s the best screen for gaming that I have found to date and all future gaming systems and phones should sport it.

When I first toyed around with the phone the browser made me think that there was something terribly wrong with the screen. When looking at words on the display they tend to be pixelated and broken up. And when you moved the page around on the screen there is a horrible blurring effect that makes everything look really crappy. But after loading up 25+ games of all varieties(yea what till you hear about the memory on this phone) I can honestly say that the oddities seen in the browser stay with the browser.

When playing fast paced games like racing and flying there is no blurry effects and there is no tearing. The screen retains it’s perfect color balance and excellent details. The black levels on the phone are almost pure black, so games with lots of contrast will really shine through on this phone. When playing games with still backgrounds the images really pop and in a few games the image had a kinda 3D’sh look to it.

For the protection of the screen the entire line of Galaxy phones are equipped with Corninware’s Gorilla Glass. This provides a tough scratch resistant touchscreen that doesn’t hinder the Super AMOLED at all, and in fact seems to be a little clearer then other phones. So for gaming you have a solid surface to play on that you don’t have to worry about scratching during normal game play.

Edit: I have tested this scratch resistance with a standard key and the screen can and WILL be scratched. Now let me explain something to make this clear, the screen scratches are not visible once you wipe the screen off really good, but once you use it and start marking up the screen they are visible but only when the LED screen is off and you angle it in the light. So with that said do NOT get this phone and show it off to your friends about how scratch resistant it is. Yes if handles scratches very well, but only when the LED screen is on or you wipe the front screen down really well to remove finger smears.

The Controls

One thing about all but one of the Galaxy S series phones is the lack of inputs. There are simply no inputs at all on the phones except the Sprint Epic 4G which has a slide out keyboard. Not having physical buttons have not deterred gaming at all though as most games come with on screen controls. The screen is super responsive and makes the touch controls in most games work very well. I have not noticed any kind of cross over control issue found in the other phones, like the Nexus One, and dual inputs work great. At this time I have not tried hitting three buttons at once as there doesn’t seem to be any three button games to play.

Not only is the sensitivity really great on the phone, but the accuracy is also really good. I have had no issues in any game I tested with hitting the button that I wanted. And no delay was noticed either. It’s almost like Samsung took everything physically wrong with every other phone and made sure that the list of issues didn’t make it into the Galaxy S line.

Wiimote input is not working at the moment but a resolution is being worked on. This is due to Samsung throwing Bluetooth 3.0 into this phone which from what I understand is an industry first as well, but more on communication later.

The Audio

Samsung threw in 5.1 audio, but only in the headphones and only in the media player. It does sound good though. But for games you have the built in speaker, and any 3.5mm headset you want to jack into the unit.

First let me get this out there, I have never been a fan of built in speakers to anything. They are never loud enough, always distort everything and never really sound good. With that Samsung hit and missed the mark. The speaker, located on the back, is very loud and plentiful. The distortion from the speaker is minimal, not talking about over driving it with to loud and input. The clarity however kinda misses the mark. Though sounds are loud and undistorted the speaker seems to make everything sound like it’s in a box. I can hear every word from games with voice and every creek and snap of trees swaying and water splashing, but it all sounds like it is in a box.

The placement of the speaker is pretty decent and I didn’t find myself covering it up while playing games. Also it seems to really fire the sounds to you, with my Nexus One the speaker sounds are clearly running away from you and not trying at all to actually make it to your ears. That may sound funny, so let me say this, the Vibrant’s speaker sounds like it is facing you rather then away from you. Like I said the speaker is loud and that may help, but I cannot get over how loud it is from the front of the phone. Also when I say loud, playing a video in a loud crowded restaurant is not a problem and games are also no problem, just mind the people around you as to not irritate them.

Like I said I didn’t have any trouble with covering up the speaker during game play because the placement is well done. But you will know instantly when you do cover it up as the phone will go almost completely silent. This doesn’t work out to well for ringer in your pocket, but hey that is for someone else to review.

Output is your standard fair, any 3.5mm headset will work, but I noticed that the audio on this is somewhat clearer then my previous phones. Less noise and less static and lots of volume. This also translates into some really awesome sound in the headset. One thing I am hoping for is that developers figure out how to use the Samsung audio chip in this phone and bring out that 5.1 sound quality that is found in video and music into there games.

Edit: Seems that Samsung packed even more into the phone then once thought. The Galaxy S line is now certified for DIVX HD and SRS surround sound. The DIVX wont help in games, but that SRS just might, like I said in my previous paragraph.

Communication

Man Samsung really pulled out all the stops on this machine when it comes to the latest and greatest tech. 4” Super AMOLED screen, Gorilla Glass, 5.1 audio. They just didn’t know when to stop which worked out great for end users. All Galaxy lines have Bluetooth 3.0, WIFI B,G,N and 3.5mm audio and video out(not 100% positive on the Sprint and Verizon phones). You read that right, 480p enhanced definition video out VIA the 3.5mm jack.

So what does BT 3.0 bring us. Not sure about the industry side of it, but for gaming… not much. I can tell you that it has actually set us gamers back a little as any controllers that hooked up VIA BT, Wiimote controller in the market for one, will not work. I have also been hearing that some peoples BT generic keyboards are not working either. My BT headset still works without an issue so I am unsure what the cause may be as BT 3.0 is fully backwards compatible. As soon as I hear anything on Wiimote controllers working I’ll update this review.

Also loaded on this bad boy is wireless N functionality. I have tested it on my home network and it does indeed connect and run at a very good pace. No problems with signal degradation or distance either. I can walk to any part of my house and maintain a pretty decent Internet connection. Gaming with friends is a snap as well. I loaded up a couple two player games on my old Nexus One and tried them out and they worked flawlessly.

The other communication is not something that I felt fit into the screen or audio section as it effects neither, but is both. Since the phone is, one way, communicating with an outside source I chose to put it here and that is TV output. Now before you get your hopes up I must confess something, this is not what you may think it is. Sure I am outputting what I see on my screen to a TV, but it stops there. First let me say that your mileage WILL vary with the TV out quality and you may or may not be disappointed in it. I for one am not thrilled, but not surprised either. I picked up the Zune 3.5mm composite plug from Amazon for about 5 bucks shipped. Though it may be that plug or may be my HD TV, either way I am not impressed.

The video looks fine standing still but you can see banding in the colors that seem reminiscent of 16bit color. Also anything that moves on the desktop looks super bad and unreadable, IE the browser and the desktop itself. Games are not as bad though but still not as nice as I was hoping. I did test this out on several TV’s and seen the same outcome on all three though my bigger TV did the most damage while my projector did the least. At any rate you will not be setting down at your couch with your phone hooked up to your TV and a Wiimote in your hand to play some games anytime soon.

I can honestly say that TV out was one big one that really drove me to the phone, but whether it is my HD TV, the cable, or the phone the quality is sub par and just not usable. Show stopper.. nope… kinda bummed.. yes.

There is word of a Micro-USB to HDMI connector coming out and also word that it is not compatible with the T-mobile and AT&T models of the Galaxy S. But I’ll let those venturous people out there buy the cable and test it or even get it working when the cable hits the street.

Phone Aesthetics

All that is packed into this phone you would think it would be thick, bulky and heavy. Nope on all accounts. The phone is lighter and skinner then 80% of the other phones, and is not bulky at all considering it has a 4” screen. For this section it will be strictly for the Vibrant and the Facinate as the AT&T and Sprint phones have a different casing.

The weight on this phone is excellent, it is easy to hold without really feeling it, it is an excellent size for bigger hands and small hands alike. The screen is placed dead center of the phone and the weight is balance nearly perfect for both sides. There is not much to say though about the phone’s shape and weight in terms of gaming other then it has yet to cramp my fingers or cause my arms to be come tired from holding on one spot to long. Also the size seems just right for everything. Vertical games and horizontal games play out perfectly and the size of the screen makes it perfect for playing either way.

Also the bottom touch buttons seem to be less of an issue with this phone. One my Nexus One I had issues with exiting games and bringing up menus due to the touch buttons being so close to the screen. On the Vibrant I have yet to have that problem, and in fact have a hard time finding them when I do need them, but I’ll get used to it over time. The buttons also react a little differently as sometimes I find myself having to tap them two or three times to get them to register.

The phone itself even looks nice and turns heads everywhere, and when you mention the name people seem to know about it. Someone did ask me once how I liked my iPhone, but I quickly corrected them letting them know that I was holding a superior phone, little fun on my part. The whole phone just screams fancy and then when you show it off to friends it lets them see the serious side of the phone behind the shiny surface.

Part III Coming Soon…

Well that covers the outside of the phone and how it looks, feels, sounds, connects and how well the inputs perform for gaming. In part three I will be bearing down on the internal performance, testing 25+ games and how they performed compared to the Nexus One. As well I’ll be covering battery performance and real world feel in games. So stay tuned to get the nitty gritty on CPU/GPU and memory performance and my final thoughts on what this all means to a gamer. Remember DroidGamers is the only site that brings Android Gaming to the masses.

If you missed Part 1 of our Samsung Vibrant gaming review feel free to head over to here and read it!

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