You can say what you like about Apple and its hoards of slavish, sheep-like devotees. You can criticise it for over hyping certain products, and you can moan about the fact it’s so secretive. But you cannot deny that, regularly, it manages to churn out top class products.
The iPhone, for instance, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t know a single hard-bitten hack who has used the device who hasn’t fallen in love with its beautifully-designed GUI and almost perfectly executed touch-screen hardware interface.
Another indication of the popularity of a product is the number of companies and products attempting to copy its key ideas and use them. And the iPhone looks as if it’s going to have a pretty powerful influence here too: 2008 is set to be the year of the touch-screen and Samsung’s F700V is in the vanguard of products looking to knock Apple from its perch.
It’s a product that has great potential. Unsurprisingly it’s very similar in size and shape to the iPhone – it’s thicker at 17mm but otherwise there’s not too much in it. It looks pretty good too with its glossy, pinstriped front fascia and minimalist design. There’s just a single button adorning the front of the phone – just like the Apple device – while a mere three controls sit along the long right-hand edge: the trigger for the F700V’s three megapixel camera, a two-way volume rocker and a switch for locking and unlocking the device.
The F700V is, as you’ve probably already guessed, a touch-screen device, and one that you’d probably also expect to be inferior in quality to the iPhone, but the F700V has a couple of important advantages hidden up its tightly-tailored sleeve. The first of these is vibration feedback. Whenever you hit a button on the F700V’s 3.2in 240 x 440 screen it responds with a quiet beep and a light buzz. It sounds frivolous, but this feature contributes so much to the feel and usability of the interface that I wonder why other manufacturers haven’t done the same thing. It’s like having the best of both worlds – the flexibility and adaptability of a touch-screen, but with the feedback of physical buttons.