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Samsung Instinct HD (Sprint)

>> Thursday, December 10, 2009

First of all, it has an awesome camera. Recorded HD (1280 by 720) and VGA videos were sharp, super smooth, and well lit only the flat colors and slightly pixelated look gave away the tiny cell phone lens. Photos taken with the 5 megapixel still mode looked very sharp outdoors, with plenty of detail in bricks, grass, and tree leaves. There was quite a bit of noise in darker rooms indoors, but shots were acceptably sharp and detailed with enough light.

Shutter speeds were about one second even with auto focus, and the phone recovered almost instantly after every shot. To play back HD video (either recorded or sideloaded), you have to attach a US$29.99 HDMI cable, sold separately. When do you want converted a few 720p movie trailers to MP4, sideloaded them to the microSD card, and hooked up the Instinct HD to a 42 inch plasma HDTV. The video even played simultaneously on the Instinct HD's screen. (The TV only shows video output, incidentally not UI graphics.)

Other media features here are flexible, but inconvenient and buggy at times. You need to pull off the stiff battery cover and remove the battery to replace the memory card. My 16GB SanDisk microSD card worked fine, and Sprint tosses a 4GB card in the box. The phone has a standard size 3.5 mm headphone jack. AAC, WMA, and MP3 music tracks sounded clear over Motorola S9-HD Bluetooth headphones. The music player displayed album art when available.

Various Sprint themed services like NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR come as part of Sprint's Everything plan, and you can buy music tracks over the air from Sprint's music store. I ran into several glitches playing music and video. The volume inexplicably started deafeningly loud on every track for the first quarter second, and the unit hard reset itself in the middle of an MP3 track.

Popping the battery and microSD card reset it. The video player oddly forced me into the TV app when it was done, even though I hadn't been using Sprint TV. The Instinct HD has the right hardware for gaming with its large touch screen and accelerometer. But it wouldn't run any of our Java benchmarks, and the one preloaded game demo ran poorly. It appears all that CPU horsepower is geared toward HD video.

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