Home' LAPTOP Magazine : November 2010 Contents SMARTPHONES
Now that Samsung's Galaxy S phones have landed
at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, Verizon Wireless is
last in line. This handset has the same vibrant
AMOLED screen we loved on the earlier models,
and unlike AT&T's Captivate and T-Mobile's Vibrant,
this model includes an LED flash and a mobile
hotspot feature. Yes, Sprint's Epic 4G has these
features, too, but its slide-out QWERTY keyboard
adds bulk. Still, this$199 smart phone has a number
of flaws, mainly attributable to Verizon Wireless'
affinity for Bing.
The 4.2-ounce Fascinate has a nearly identical
design to the Vibrant, and is considerably slimmer
and lighter than the Motorola Droid X and Droid
2. The 4-inch display has a lower 800 x 480-pixel
resolution compared to 854 x 480 on the two
products, but images and videos looked amazingly
crisp and bright.
Given its ability to record 720p video, an HDMI
port wouldn't have hurt. Instead, you're supposed
to use AllShare, which streams content over Wi-Fi
to DLNA-compatible TVs and other electronics.
The Fascinate features a gray keyboard with
white letters. While the haptic feedback made it
nice to know when we had pressed a key, it slowed
our typing down. A button on the left-hand side of
the keyboard activates SWYPE, which lets you type
quickly with one finger by drawing a line from one
letter to the next.
Samsung's custom TouchWiz 3.0 interface has
a very iPhone-like appearance. The application
screen swipes left to right to view installed apps,
instead of the traditional vertical scrolling. A total
of seven home screens can be customized with
widgets, folders, and shortcuts.
Instead of a Google search button, Verizon
Wireless chose Bing as the default search provider,
and you can't change it. The Bing results were fine,
but the fact that you don't have a choice is a strike
against this device.
The Fascinate packs the same powerful Samsung
1-GHz Hummingbird processor and 512MB of RAM
as the Vibrant and Captivate. Not surprisingly, the
Fascinate returned roughly the same results on
Like every Android phone, the Fascinate has
a dedicated Gmail client and a separate mail
application. Business users will appreciate the
built-in Exchange support.
The Fascinate was slightly faster than the
competition during browsing. Over 3G, it loaded
NYTimes.com in 9 seconds and m.ESPN.com in 5
seconds. Laptopmag.com loaded in 17 seconds.
Over Wi-Fi, the Fascinate loaded ESPN in 3 seconds,
NYTimes.com in 7 seconds, and Laptopmag.com
in 11 seconds.
The mobile hotspot feature lets you connect up
to five devices to the phone via Wi-Fi. This service
costs $20 per month for 2GB.
Preloaded apps include Samsung's AllShare,
which lets you stream multimedia to or from the
Fascinate to any device on the network. Car Cradle
brings up navigation controls in a landscape
format (best used with the optional car cradle;
$39.99). Desk Cradle is intended for use with its
accessory ($29.99) and shows the time and date
prominently. Also on the Fascinate are apps for
Blockbuster, ThinkFree Office, V Cast Music and
Video, VZ Navigator, Nuance voice commands,
Skype Mobile, and Write & Go.
The media player interface on the Fascinate is
more along the lines of a high-end PMP, a major
step up from most Android phones. There's not a lot
of premium content you can get to maximize that
Super AMOLED display for watching videos yet, but
the upcoming Samsung Media Hub has promise.
This service will let you rent and buy movies and
TV shows over Wi-Fi.
The Fascinate has a 5-megapixel camera and
an LED flash that worked well; even in a completely
darkened room, the flash pro-
vided enough light to take
fairly decent pictures
at short range. The
same was true for
In lieu of Google
Navigation, the Fasci-
nate has VZ Navigator
and Bing Maps, both
of which are less at-
tractive and intuitive
than Google options.
For example, there's
no pinch-to-zoom when looking at a map, and
there's no integration between the two apps. Plus,
VZ Navigator costs $10 per month.
Calls made indoors using the Fascinate were
clear and loud. Outdoor calls were mediocre at
best. Owing to a lack of noise cancellation on
the Fascinate, background noise made our call
sound like static. Fortunately, you can download
On our LAPTOP Battery Test, the Fascinate lasted
5 hours and 41 minutes. Surprisingly, that's about
an hour longer than the Captivate and Vibrant.
Verizon Wireless customers looking for a great
Android phone have a tough decision to make.
Should they get the big and fast (and long-lasting)
Droid X, the Droid 2 with its improved keyboard,
or the Droid Incredible because of HTC's great
Sense interface and bright AMOLED screen?
Notice that we didn't include the $199 Fascinate
on that list. While its screen looks better than
what you'll find on any of the Droid phones, and
it packs in a great camera, Verizon's de-Googling
of the phone will be a deal-breaker for some.
---Michael A. Prospero
Although we wish Bing wasn't the default search choice, we love
this Super AMOLED smart phone's display and sleek design.
(with two-year contract)
CPU: 1-GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird Operat-
ing System: Android 2.1 Data: EV-DO Rev.
A Memory: 2GB internal/384 RAM Display
Size/Resolution: 4 inches/800 x 480 Camera: 5
MP Wireless: 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 GPS:
Yes Talk/Standby Time: Up to 7 hours/13
days Size: 4.9 x 2.5 x 0.4 inches Weight:
Bright AMOLED display
5-MP camera with flash takes excellent photos
3G mobile hotspot feature
Will support Media Hub for TV and movie
Longer battery life than Captivate and Vibrant
Can't change default search engine from Bing
Google Maps/Navigation not included
Mediocre call quality in noisy environments
LAPTOP | November 2010
The back of the Fascinate has a subtle dotted
pattern, broken up only by the 5-megapixel camera
and LED flash.
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