Connectivity For the Samsung A900

by Chris Josephes


I upgraded my cell phone to the Samsung A900, which some of you might have seen refered to as Samsung's answer to the Motorola RAZR. The big marketing push for the phone brags about the video and multimedia support. For me the more interesting features was the built in Bluetooth and included USB cable. I put the phone through the tests to see how useful it would be in a geek PAN environment.



Initial Bluetooth and USB Setup



The A900 has native support for HSP, HFP, DUN, OPP, FTP, and BPP Bluetooth Profiles. It also includes a USB sync cable.



The host I used for my tests was a Windows XP system with a Kensington USB/Bluetooth adaptor.



On the Bluetooth side, the initial pairing setup was okay. A novice might be a little frustrated with the short timeout that both pins need to be entered. But once that part is out of the way, the subsequent pairings went off without a hitch.



For the USB connection, I needed to download drivers from the Samsung website. And even after installing them, I had to have Windows perform a driver update function before the OS would identify the phone as a USB connected modem.



File Transfer/Synchronication Tests



The first Bluetooth test was simple FTP access to a Windows host. I didn't have very many files on the phone, so I just started out with a couple of pictures. For sending files by FTP, the phone menu will let you select multiple files to transmit.



There is a menu shortcut to send out your personal phone book entry across as a vCard 2.1 file. It would have been cool if the phone exported it in vCard3.0 format, because then my photo could have been included. I guess until then I will just have to pose for cameraphone pictures each time I transfer the file.



On a whim, I tried using a couple of syncing applications, including Microsoft ActiveSync. Unfortunately, it didn't work. There is no support listed for this phone using Apple iSync, either.



I could not find any options on the phone to transfer the entire phone directory at once. And from what I can tell, there is no software available for the PC side. I'll admit I didn't do too much research on this part, because a lot of PIM applications actually cost money. If I really needed to, I could send each phone book entry one at a time using Bluetooth.


Modem Tests



I created two dialup profiles to the same ISP; one for the Bluetooth modem, and one for the USB modem. That didn't work out too well, since they're both considered plug-and-play devices. It was better to just have one profile, and let Windows automatically assign whatever modem it could detect to the network properties.



Both dialup environments worked as expected. The speed was pretty good, though it's hard to really gauge performance because the most likely point of latency would be the cellular network.



Printing



For the USB PictBridge test I used a HP 8150 Photosmart printer. The transfer and the printing worked flawlessly. I didn't have a Bluetooth capable printer, but I would imagine that the process would work about the same.



Audio Gateway



This was the one test that failed. The PC could see the HFC profile of the phone, but I had no luck when I tried to use the phone as an input or output audio device. I'll do some more checking on this one.


Mass Storage



The last interesting capability is using the phone as a flash drive. You can easily access and modify files on the phone. It has 50mb of storage space, so you could use it to store copies of important files.



Final Thoughts



So far, everything with this phone has worked pretty well. The connectivity applications are a good start, but there are still some areas of improvement. The first and foremost improvement would be true synchronization. But if you can get by without it, and you need a phone that can hook up to your PC, then I'd recommend giving this one a try.