First off, a quick shout out to the Romanian bartender at Siddartha, one of about a million little bars within a stones' throw of my hotel here in Barcelona's Gothic District. I was feeling a bit like a sullen teacher after Samsung's Memoir media event last night when I didn't get to tag along with the supermodel (more on that in a second), but a phone call home to my family in the States and a trip out into the night in search of food brought my spirits back up. As did the lovely bartender who fixed me a mean Mojito and chatted with me about her journey from Eastern Europe to Spain and a romance with "a bad guy, if you know what I mean" (that's bad as in good, judging from the glint in her eye) as I nursed my drink. Nothing like the company of a kind stranger to make you feel at home when you're halfway across the world.
But enough about that ... back to the supermodel. Samsung brought in Helena Christensen to help them launch the T-Mobile bound Memoir T929 last night. Helena's not only a model with legs for days (seriously), but she's also quite the photographer. So Sammy gave her a Memoir to play around with for a few weeks, and they had several of her photos taken with the 8 megapixel cameraphone printed out and on display at last night's soiree.
The photos were quite good - Helena's got an eye for arty images - and the model turned out to be very cool as well. Sure, I was a bit starstruck when I got to have my photo taken with her (Samsung, I'm waiting for that picture!), but she really was super nice when chatting with me about her love of cameraphones and photography in general, her home in New York's West Village, and life as an international fashion icon.
Hence my sadness when Helena, her manager (also a really nice guy, btw), and her Samsung escorts headed out for a quiet, out of the way dinner after the event ... my brush with stardom was a fun one, and it was over. And poor me (yeah, right!) I had to face the Barcelona night on my own.
As for the phone itself, Memoir will be available to T-Mobile USA customers on February 25th for $249 after rebate with a two-year contract. That's a pretty steep price, and frankly I think T-Mo should have knocked down at least another fifty bucks. Memoir has features coming out of its gills - 8MP camera with Xenon flash and 30fps video capture, full touchscreen with Samsung's TouchWiz UI, 3G data with a full HTML Web browser - but that's still a hefty price tag for a non-smartphone, especially in a down economy.
And megapixels aren't everything. The T-Mobile Behold, Samsung's 5 Megapixel TouchWiz cameraphone, left a little to be desired in terms of actual image quality. Our own Dr. Photo recently put Behold head-to-head with the less-hyped Motorola ZN5 (another 5MP cameraphone on T-Mo) in a photo shootout, and the MOTO emerged as the clear winner. Behold's images were fuzzy with slightly dulled colors as compared to the Motorola - as were images taken with the 5MP Samsung Omnia, for that matter.
Hopefully Samsung's upped the quality of the camera optics in Memoir, and it looks like they have judging from the photos on display at the party last night. But we'll have to reserve judgement until the device hits the streets ... or at least until I get a review sample to test out myself and hand over to the good Doctor for a professional photo workout.