Apr 13, 2009

Samsung Omnia Thoughts - Week #1

x-men2- cop32y

As promised, the fascinating Omnia has finally arrived to the Mobile Spoon, and it's time to review it based on a few days of pure joy with this great gadget, known as the iPhone killer.

Will it be a good review? Or will it be another one of those iPhones wannabe's? It's time to find out!


Before we begin -
like every professional blogger, I took some pictures of the reviewer (myself) with the cool handset:

That's me with the Samsung Omnia:
OmniaGurila

And here's a close-up of this brilliant phone in my hand!
omniahandy

And now that we covered that part, let's get to the serious stuff:

Hardware:

The device has an unusual long display of 240/400 which makes you see longer lists which is good, but also makes some problems with application which were not designed to support different resolutions. Do I mind? Nope.
The screen feels great, it's sensitive as it should. Comparing to HTC's Touch Diamond and Pro - it's much much MUCH better.

The Omnia's weight is surprisingly light and the plastic back of it is very slippy. The combination makes it a bit difficult to grip. I almost dropped the phone 2 times already and I still have 2 weeks to pass with it. Hope it will last that long...

Of course that all the usual goodies are there: WiFi, GPS, hardware buttons, optical mouse (more about it below), 8 Gbytes or 16 Gbytes plus microSD memory card, auto rotation (for all the applications!), fancy shell UI, lot's of additional applications, a great camera (5.0 MP) and much more. It misses a VGA display.

What is this odd Stylus?

For some reason, Samsung decided to drop the standard stylus and add this bizarre collapsible stylus that can be hooked to the phone like a stupid key chain.

product_thumb copyFor me this whole thing looks more like Star War's Lightsaber, (check it out...).

Luckily (for me) I try not to use the styluses at all, so I actually managed to operate the device very well without it. The only time I needed it was to reboot the device.

 

What is that strange looking Mini USB connector?

Oh, I get it, it's actually not a Mini USB!
Hey, Samsung, haven't you heard about a thing called standard?
I usually don't mind using those evil proprietary connectors, but this time, since I got the phone from Europe, I didn't have an adapter for it, and so I had the most exciting WinMo phone ever but couldn't use it for almost a day, until I got an adapter for it.
Mini USB. This is all I have to say about it. Mini USB.


Great Usability:

OK, so much for the obvious stuff, let's move on to the subject I can talk about for hours: usability. And here, the Omnia is one of the best phones I've ever used:

There are 2 things I really hate about the Touch Pro: performance and D-Pad. Both of them are much better in the Omnia.

Performance: This phone rocks! it's working fast, it feels light, it's fun! So long HTC Touch Pro, I'm with the Omnia now.

untitled55555D-PAD / Virtual Mouse: The virtual D-Pad is really fun. I would still prefer the standard D-Pad, but given that everyone tries to get rid of it, this is definitely the second best option after a trackball.
It's a bit challenging when you would like to navigate very fast, but I like it even though.
The Omnia also has an option to use a virtual mouse. I'm not sure it's the best way to operate a phone, but as I'm a windows fan, I'm actually using this option now and enjoy it very much.

There's more:

Vibration Feedback: There is a way to turn on a vibration mode for tactile feedbacks on each click and even movements. The feedback is very delicate and can be tuned. It's not annoying and I like it very much. When you are using the virtual D-Pad - this option is very useful.

Tilt Sensor: One of the most annoying thing with the iPhone or the Diamond, is that not all the applications can be rotated using the tilt sensor. Well, guess what? Samsung Omnia supports animated screen rotating for ALL THE APPLICATIONS. How cool is that? You open an app, suddenly you need to type something - boom, you switch to landscape mode and type it easily. While doing so, you can even enjoy a randomly changing rotating animation. Ha ha ha! (evil laugh)

Keyboard: Another victory for Samsung: the Omnia's custom keyboard works fantastic! With or without the T9. I remember not being able to use the T9 in the Touch Pro - but here it simply works perfectly. Virtual keyboards may reduce productivity if they malfunction, but the Omnia is equipped with a very good one.

Tons of customizations: Sure, windows Mobile is old, bad, problematic, but Samsung really wrapped the Omnia with a lot of custom applications and user interface.
I will talk about the software in details in my next review but I mention this here because while the additions do not harm the performance - they increase the usability of the phone significantly. (examples: finger friendly shortcuts, settings, finger friendly alarm application and tons of other useful apps).


A lot of good things to say about the Omnia, but as you probably know by now, I do have the tendency to find defects...

3 things I did not like about the Samsung Omnia:

1. TouchWiz User Interface: I already posted about my impression of it [Samsung Omnia Thoughts - Day #1 (TouchWiz)] but in short I will only say it's a cool concept but not a productive one. Too little place to put widgets, limited functionality, I'm switching to SPB Mobile Shell.

2. Missing OK button: I said it in the past and I will say it again: WinMo devices need to have a hardware button for the smart minimize / OK  button. The Omnia is a long phone and every time you need to click on the OK button - you actually need to change your grip and stretch your thumb to the upper right corner. It's so annoying!
I know it's a problem in the OS but if device manufacturers could do something about it - it's simply to add a hardware button called: 'OK'.

Omnia_04

3. Location of the hardware side buttons: Surprisingly, the volume buttons are located in the lower right side, there's another button located in the top right side, but it's so tall that like the OK button (on the screen) - its hard to use it with the default grip.

All of the buttons can be easily reconfigured (hear that HTC? reconfigured!) to perform special tasks, but since their location is not optimized for a single hand, they are not comfortable to use, it makes them a less efficient.


OK. I think this will do for this part of the Samsung Omnia review.
In general, I think the Omnia is exactly the kind of handset every Windows Mobile fan can ask for. I can really see myself using an Omnia as my personal phone (too bad I need to send it back...).

Great performance, stability, big screen, good keyboard, fun virtual mouse and other goodies, make this phone a great gadget.

Comparing to the latest HTC devices, it may lack a VGA screen, but it has a lot of other advantages over the Diamond or the Pro/Fuze.

dark-phoenix_super copy

In my next review I will discuss the collection of software goodies Samsung included in the Omnia, including the customized menus and the today plug-ins.

And also, a small comparison between the Touch HD and the Omnia. Probably 2 of the best WinMo phones today.

As always - comments are welcome!

Stay tuned for more reviews - here at the Mobile Spoon:

HTC Touch Pro Thoughts

One night stand with BlackBerry Storm

HTC Touch Pro Thoughts - Week #1

iPhone Thoughts

 

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