Shot taken at weekend with the S4 Zoom, no editing. View of the morning fog, Princetown, Dartmoor, Devon, Uk.
To recap on the earlier review sections click here.
Using a device as your main daily driver, with no other option to fall back on really does focus on the weakness and strengths of any device. I have discovered all sorts of nuances, strengths and weaknesses but overall this is a wonderful piece of kit, even with its limitations.
So, if you recall I mentioned the low resolution Panoramic mode photos. I discovered that if you take the panoramic photos holding the S4 Zoom vertically instead of horizontally, the quality jumps from 200kb to about 700kb. I am waiting for Clove Technology to get feedback from Samsung as to whether this is the maximum quality or a fault. But I imagine based on my testing it is not a fault but the maximum quality. Is this a deal breaker for most people, probably not. Other nuances as mentioned before include low internal memory of 8gb, even with apps to SD card supported out of the box, this does not move the app data so not ideal for gamers. Also, worth remembering that it has a smaller processor than the standard S4, low resolution screen and in speed tests is not lightning fast, but more runs along at an average pace. I think I have been spoilt by the speed of the HTC One. But here is the crazy thing, despite my previous cravings for a powerhouse device with the best screen, processor and tons of on board memory, a thin and fairly lightweight device, I am enamelled by the S4 Zoom. I just love it.
Other little things I have noticed is connecting the S4 Zoom to the Mac in camera mode brings up 700 plus photos, so totally useless. I am going to have to remove the micro SD card and import that way in future. Another oddity, I emailed some photos from my Mac to myself, opened up the photos on the S4 Zoom in the Gmail app, saved the photos, but when going to view them in the gallery app, they are not standard jpg or png and cannot be renamed etc. So I am now using the Samsung email app.
I have been using the S4 Zoom out and about this week. I was in a bank, and the cashier said “did you just reply to a text message on your camera”. I passed across the S4 Zoom for her to have a look and she was fascinated. As I was leaving, I heard the cashier tell the others how clever the camera was with a phone built in. Next, I was in a tech type store, and a young sales assistant asked is that the S4 Zoom. I said yes and let him have a look. His colleagues then gathered around and it caused quite a talking subject. Clearly the S4 Zoom piques interest.
So what has it been like to use? Well brilliant to be honest. The weight and overall size is not now a problem whatsoever. As it is based on the S4 Mini, it fits easily in the hand as it is not an oversized 5 inch plus disaster. The S4 Zoom is 2.8cm deep if you include the camera lens, but the depth is not an issue. The S4 Zoom handles all my internet, email, messaging, rss news feeds, forums and blog updates, social networking, replaces my TV and DVD remote using the built in infra red blaster, podcasts, and gaming. I added gaming. The builtin loudspeaker is excellent too, loud and clear.
I have been very selective as to the games installed, but they are mostly all games that work with my Mogo Pro Game Controller which connects via bluetooth. This works really well with the S4 Zoom. Games installed include SuperGNES emulator, R-Type, AlphaWave, Meganoid 2, Canabalt HD, Doodle Jump, Submarine Attack, Final Freeway 2R, Sonic, Pac Man, Asphalt 7 and many more.
I must admit, it does look strange using what looks like a camera to operate a TV, in fact making a phone call is even crazier looking, as it appears as if you are talking into a camera. Going back to the point that it is based on the S4 Mini, you get the Samsung experience and without too much of the useless memory hogging features found in the standard S4. The camera module has loads of different modes, to take the guess work out of what settings you need to change to take a particular shot. So if you went to a fireworks display, you would use the fireworks mode. I keep a cheap full size tripod in my car, and love being able to connect it to the S4 Zoom as simple as ABC, and without the need or fuss of finding an adapter first to connect to my phone, which would then connect to the tripod.
And then there is using the S4 Zoom as a camera. You have the great feeling, that whatever you throw at it, you will get a decent photo. With night shots or indoor, the xenon flash makes a remarkable difference. And then there is the lens which has 10 times optical zoom. Now I have a quality zoom option on my phone, I tend to use it a lot more often. I look at a shot and think, I will just zoom in a bit more to get a closer shot. I used it last week, when it was lashing down with rain, to take a photo of a crow from inside my car. I simply lowered the passenger window, and zoomed right in to the bird. I am still exploring all the different options, but so far have been impressed with all the results.
Case options for the S4 Zoom are limited, but last week I posted details of a silicone case I received that came with a screen protector. The silicone case added extra grippy parts too. I also bought from a SuperGrip Universal Case Compatible Car Mount which works a treat with the S4 Zoom. The Zoom makes a great GPS too.
Finally, the S4 Zoom has a removable battery and micro SD card. So if you knew you were going to be taking thousands of photos, you could carry additional micro SD card and a spare battery (not available yet). Another benefit of the removable spare battery is when the old ones starts wearing out, you can simply change it for another.
If photography is your thing, or you always want to take a decent photo, the S4 Zoom could be right up your street.
Available from Clove Technology
To recap on the earlier review sections click here.