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Samsung Ace Smartphone Is a Bit of a Bust

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 Samsung Ace Smartphone
Samsung Ace Smartphone (Sprint/Nextel)

Okay, let’s make one thing clear before we start out: Apple’s iPhone is the handset of the moment — maybe even the next few moments. While this isn’t exactly news to anyone, it may come as a surprise (to even the most pretentious gadget hound) that there is a healthy second-tier of business-savvy PDA/phone combos hitting the market right before the iPhone celebrates its first birthday.

Leading this charge is the Samsung Ace, the CDMA counterpart of the GSM equipped BlackJack II. There are times when the Ace is a legitimate competitor to the iPhone and then there are times when the handset simply gets stuffed short of the goal line.

On the plus side it’s cheap: With rebates and all, you can scoop up an Ace for a thrifty $200. And as a phone, it’s more than competent: Call quality was clear, and the ergonomics were much improved over the original hard-to-hold BlackJack. Confession time: I am a sports junkie. Like a Sid Vicious of statistics. When using the original BlackJack, I noticed pronounced hand cramping after two weeks of solid Internet use. With the Ace I didn’t feel so much as an ache — even after a fortnight’s worth of frantically scoping scores.

While the Ace feels just right physically, metaphysically it feels like much of the same. There’s nothing about that handset that is a far-and-away improvement over the BlackJack series. A Palm or Mac OS is far superior to the bloated Windows Mobile 6 the Ace insists on using. Worse yet, there’s a conspicuous lack of features on this device found in similar handsets. Where are my touchscreens, my gigabyte-juiced internal memory, my Mac compatibility, and my greater multimedia options and features? Come on Samsung, we know you’re trying to offer a smartphone for less, but the competition out there is fierce. —Erik Malinowski

WIRED: Fast EV-DO service. Smooth Sprint TV integration and user interface. Improved phone ergonomics make longer calls tolerable. Low price point ($200, with rebates) among greater smartphone market. 1.3-megapixel camera good for sharp pics. microSD slot supports up to 2 GB of external memory.

TIRED: No Mac compatibility. Maneuvering right-hand thumb wheel can be cumbersome for constant web users (and natural southpaws). No touchscreen. Tiny QWERTY keyboard causes frequent misspellings and overall slowdown in productivity.

Price/maker: $200 (with two-year contract

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