Regular Stuff-ites will know that one of our favourite bits of tech in recent times is Tonium’s pocket DJ-ing marvel, the Pacemaker. Surprisingly, not many gadgets have followed its lead, but Samsung’s Beat DJ is one of the first to pay homage to its talents.
There are no big hard-drives or the ability to mix tracks, but the phone’s combination of Beat DJ software and powerful B&O speakers promise to provide a novel way of helping you to while away the time waiting for the bus.
The M7600, as it’s otherwise known, is shaped like a lozenge with a purple band round it, and features two rounded ends, a 2.6in touchscreen and scarcely a button in sight.
Of the three buttons that are on the Beat DJ, one starts a call, another hangs up and one moves you back a menu which, counter-intuitively, is in the middle. Sadly, the buttons aren’t backlit, which can make them difficult to find quickly.
The Beat DJ certainly has a unique look and feels good in the hand. It’s small and light, but solid enough to use comfortably.
Problems arise when you start to use the touchscreen, which can be a little sluggish. Most of the time it’s fine, but occasionally it chooses the item above or below the one you’re aiming at.
There are also issues with Samsung’s widgets. These are the icons that run in a gutter down the left side of the screen, including clock, Facebook, weather and other apps. You can choose which icons to drag to the main screen, but the problem is that one touch sends the column of images flying, making it difficult to snag the right one as they whizz by.
The touchscreen works better with the 3.2MP camera, with the camera menu functions accessible and effective. Shutter lag is lengthy, especially when light is low, though this is a common fault in phone cameras.
But this, after all, is a music phone, and the real high point here is sound quality which, through the phone’s speakers is pretty good, not least thanks to Bang and Olufsen’s IcePower.
Then there’s the Beat DJ software. When launched, a disc appears in the middle of the screen and a circular bar creeps round it to show how far you’ve played.
Touch the scratch option, and a CD image appears that you can spin back and forth like a DJ. Well, not quite. The touchscreen is at its most unresponsive here so the effects are far from melodic.
There are other musical effects to be had – you can apply music filters, change the tempo and play with the Flanger and Reverb options. But without the ability to add more than one effect at a time or mix tracks, it’s more a gimmicky sideshow than useful tool.
Other features work better – for example, it’s easy to record tracks from the FM radio, although the quality is not high. And there’s a handy, Shazam-style track identification feature. But despite these neat touches, the Beat DJ’s suspect touchscreen and lack of killer features mean it’s not quite the compelling alternative to Sony Ericsson’s Walkman brigade it promised to be.
Available free on £25 monthly tariff from Virgin Media