Samsung Instinct for the System Administrator

I’m fairly hard on my tools and lets face it for a system administrator a  Cell Phone is one of the most important tools in the bag. Recently I took the dive and replaced my Palm Centro with a Samsung Instinct here are all the juicy details.

instinct

The Samsung Instinct is obviously Sprint’s answer to the iPhone, everything about it screams style and flair and at for the price it seems unbeatable for the average consumer, but what about for system administrators and network engineers who need a good stable phone, a compatible browser, and the ability to get corporate e-mail?

Email

First, you can connect to Exchange with the Samsung Instinct (sort of). Unlike the Blackberry and Palm (and pretty much any other SmartPhone brand) you can connect using the e-mail client directly, the Instinct requires trickery of some sort to function. You have two (well three, but one is redundant) options for utilizing exchange. One option is using the e-mail client to connect to Outlook Web Access (OWA) I will be honest while I have been able to connect to OWA using the Instinct’s own browser, I have not yet been able to connect to OWA using the e-mail client. The e-mail client continually prompts me to authenticate and then locks me out for thirty minutes (this is tremendously annoying considering how long it will likely take some folks to get used to the virtual keyboard).

The second option is to install a ‘Desktop Connector’ which simply sinks its teeth into your domain account and copies mail content from Exchange to your ‘Sprint service account’ all the way to your phone. There are a few issues with the Desktop Connector method – A) It must be running on your PC constantly in order for you to receive e-mail at your device B) there seems to be many possible points of failure along the path. i.e. the Desktop Connector could fail, the sprint service could fail, etc etc… C) What are the security implications of this software?

So far I have been using the "Desktop Connector" method for a couple of days and it has been delivering me annoying Nagios alerts like a champ.

There is no public folder support whatsoever, from what I can tell there is no way to get your personal contacts or calendar. I would strongly plead with Samsung or a 3rd party application developer to release a mail client which has support for VPN and native Exchange connectivity/functionality.

Keyboard

I was able to fire off an angry e-mail in about half the time with the virtual keyboard than I was with the tiny Centro keyboard so the keyboard apparently works fine.

Browser

The browser is fast, has support for javascript (as I mentioned previously it works fine with OWA), the HTML engine appears to be compatible with many more sites than Palm’s dated Blazer engine (ahem, wikipedia..)

Other notes

Call quality is fine, bluetooth synced up to the 2008 Honda hands free just fine. Navigation is pretty cool.

Verdict

With all of the bells and whistles of a digital camera, a PMP, Sprint’s TV, the nerd ‘wow factor’ its incredible styling and the price tag of $129 (or $459 depending on who you are) it is difficult to go wrong as a consumer but If perfect Exchange support is important to you look elsewhere or wait and see. If IMAP or OWA is all you need than this may be the perfect phone for you.

-Drew

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