Samsung A800

Since discovering the new Samsung A800, I have given up on my elusive search for the phone that can do everything. The truth is that no phone can be everything to everyone, so for the fickle mobile aficionados out there, it is about picking and choosing what floats your boat at the time you need to make your next cell phone purchase.

What floats my boat this week is a single feature found on the Samsung A800 to be offered soon in the US by CDMA carriers (Sprint, Verizon, etc). The new A800 phone includes a 2 megapixel camera with OCR software for reading in a business card into your contact list. You simply snap a photo of the business card, and the software will find the contact name and phone number on the card, and after you confirm the data, it enters it into your address book. Now, is that cool or what? I think I would want one of these phones just to knock people off their feet at parties, let alone the practical uses associated with attending so many trade shows and conferences.

So, is this one feature enough to make this phone a 2005 success story? The answer is "unlikely," especially since I expect to see every cell phone OS/application developer out there scrambling to implement the same feature. The problem with OCR is memory requirements and accuracy, with more accurate and versatile solutions taking more memory and more CPU cycles. When I get the A800 in hand for awhile, I will compare the speed, accuracy and versatility to the CardScan Executive, today's standard in business card reading technology, but until then this will need to remain a gee-wiz technology. Even if it can't read all business cards and fonts, and can't import all the data, this is still a feature which puts this phone on the top of my gadgets I gotta try list!

As an aside, there are some other reasons that someone might want to buy the A800 phone, including the beautiful QVGA display, the 2 megapixel camera, and the transflash memory (so you can store lots of pictures and transfer them to a printing kiosk, or even print directly from the camera using USB). From my perspective, 2 megapixels isn't much to get excited about, especially at a time when the same manufacturer tells us that 5 megapixel phones are on the near horizon, but if you can't stand the idea of using a numeric keypad to enter one more contact into your phone, maybe 2 megapixels is enough to take the plunge.