The Gadget: Samsung Access, the second (and cheaper) phone launching AT&T's mobile TV service.

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The Price: $199 w/ 2-year contract.

The Verdict: Underneath the shiny mobile TV veneer with its crystal clear, mondo-size-for-a-candybar screen, it's actually a fairly basic phone. (Which wouldn't be a problem, except for the price—you're essentially paying for the privilege of watching mobile TV.) The UI is better than average (other than the generous slathering of orange), but you'll get nothing truly deep here. It has the same gimpy built-in email client as LG's Vu (no Gmail or custom IMAP or POP support) but the non-QWERTY keyboard means you wouldn't be doing any heavy lifting anyway. Also the browser's not very robust—expected for this kind of phone, but at the same time, I feel like the phone's slick aesthetics promised me more (a la N95).

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Let's talk about what this phone is supposed to do well, though: Mobile TV. It does succeed there. The screen is pretty exceptional, if a bit smaller than what I'd want to watch mobile TV on. But I can definitely get through Colbert or 30 Rock on it, and pretty much everything good (and bad) about the service comes through here: Resolution, clarity, content (yay CNN), etc. Yet, if you're really buying this phone because you're dying mobile TV, you should stick with the Vu (if you're paying $15-$30 a month for TV, I'm guessing the price difference is non-consequential for you).



The Vu has a bigger screen, enough said there—even though the Access is taller and wider, making it a tighter pocket fit (this won't fit in a hipster's jean pocket). (They both have lame proprietary headphone jacks though, grrr.) Also, the mobile TV signal is better with the Vu (tested by descending into the bowels of my apartment building), courtesy of the mondo antenna you can whip out to look like you're visiting from the 80s. And the Vu's only $100 more, plus is simply an overall richer phone. [AT&T]

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