So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Slim, Looks great, High quality screen
- Battery life a little lacking, No card slot
A great option for 3G users. If you need a slim video phone, the Samsung Z540 is a perfect choice.
Price$ 730.00 (AUD)
Over the last few months a flurry of slim, wide and stylized phones have begun to appear on the market. Samsung's SGH-Z540 is one such model, sporting the same flat design that made Motorola' RAZR V3 so popular. However not only is it well designed but it also manages to cram in many of Samsung's intuitive ideas along with 3G functionality, to create a very attractive video phone package.
Measuring 9cm x 5cm x 2cm, the Z540 is pretty much identical in size and shape to its Motorola counterpart. The slim design means it will fit comfortably in any pocket; you'll barely notice it's there. In fact this model currently claims the title of the slimmest 3G phone on the market, which is a big selling point as 3G phones tend to be excessively bulky and uncomfortable to carry.
The chassis comes in jet black and opens to reveal a flat, matte keypad of a similar colour. It is lightly backlit in pale blue, but this is hardly noticeable unless you're actually in the dark. We like this simple colour scheme a lot more than the flashy designs present on other models. While bright, glowing lights and silver cases are great for those who like to show off, the unassuming yet suave design of the Z540 gives it a much more sophisticated feel that many people will appreciate.
We found the keypad on this model to be extremely responsive. The width of the phone means there is more than enough space and nothing is unnecessarily cramped. Some people may dislike the smooth, flat key layout, but after an hour or so you won't even notice it. The Z540 offers a standard keypad layout, with a five-way directional pad, two selection buttons, Call, Answer and a few shortcut keys. There is a camera button on the side which is a nice touch, but you have to hold it for a few seconds to get a response which takes some of the spontaneity out of it. Similarly, the MP3 player can be accessed by holding the Play key on the front of the unit, which gives you quick access to your music without even opening the flip.
The screen is another great feature of this model. It is a 2.3 inch 262,000 colour TFT LCD that operates at a resolution of 240x320. It looks fantastic with bright, vivid colours, smooth motion and a solid viewing angle. People underestimate how much impact a quality display can have, so it is nice to see Samsung paying attention to this area. The exterior LCD is also quite impressive boasting 65,000 colours at a resolution of 128x128. It displays all the usual information, including Battery Life, Time, Date and Reception.
Performance and Functionality
The Z540's all around performance was solid. The menu operates quickly and smoothly, with no noticeable speed issues. While the main menu is a proprietary Vodafone interface, the sub-menus are Samsung's traditional setup and operate as intuitively as ever.
As expected on a 3G phone there are dual cameras; a 1.3 megapixel, exterior mounted camera for photography purposes, and an internal VGA camera for video calls. We found both to be adequate if not particularly noteworthy. 1.3 megapixels is a little low by today's standards and our shots with this model weren't really anything we'd want to show off to friends. It does have a few modes including Multi-Shot, Sepia, Black and White and a Timer, but you're still going to want a dedicated point and shoot for any sort of real photography.
The Z540 supports all the standard messaging formats including SMS, MMS and Email and includes T9 predictive text input. Messaging was very quick and seamless, assisted by the excellent keypad. The phone supports bluetooth and USB connectivity, but sadly has no infra-red port.
We found call quality to be excellent, both incoming and outgoing. The volume was quite high and we experienced no trouble hearing or being heard by other people. The Z540 is rated at 2.5 hours talk time with 200 hours on stand-by. With some phones offering as much as four hours talk time these days, we were a little disappointed here, but as long as you charge every few days it won't be a huge problem.
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