HOME / PRINT
Samsung i900 Omnia
In the preview I gave you my first impressions about the Samsung i900 Omnia. Now it's time for a detailed review, so I'll be doing some relevant in-depth analysis of the handset and its functions as best as I can. Let's get to it.
There's nothing to dislike about the design, especially the superb 3.2 inch display with a resolution of 240 x 400 pixels. Samsung is still using its proprietary slot for USB/Charger and handsfree connectivity, but the Omnia comes with a mic adapter that has a volume control and a 3.5mm jack.
For those of you who caught the unboxing video, I mentioned I liked Samsung's earphone design; but unfortunately these are nothing like the previous models that I tested with their PMPs. The earpieces do come in different sizes, but they're a little stiff and tend to hurt your inner ear.
Though the i900 is a slim handset, Samsung couldn't find the space to fit a slim stylus, so you'll end up toting an over-sized one that looks like an eyeliner. Great for the ladies; not the guys. It can be hung at the side but it gets in the way. The lack of a hot-swap slot for the microSD card could be a drawback if it weren’t for the 8GB or 16GB onboard storage and the 16GB card included with the box.
The optical mouse sensor located under the screen is the perfect solution to the cumbersome stylus. The sensitivity can be controlled and you can also opt for switching the pointer off using the surface as a five way nav-pad. Yes, it's also got a button.
I wonder what the Xperia's optical mouse navigation would be like. More on that later, when I can pit these handsets against each other. So stay tuned for another Gadget Wars feature soon!
Features and Performance
First of all, let me just say that the Omnia’s large display doesn’t work that well in bright, sunlit conditions. You’ll have a minor problem seeing the screen clearly; it’ll require a bit of tilting at angles for optimum viewing. This also means the accelerometer would activate and you’ll have the screen rotating all over the place.
Running on Windows Mobile Professional 6.1, the Omnia is in no way a slow handset. It has 128MB RAM, 256MB ROM, and a 624MHz Marvell PXA312 processor. The accelerometer is smooth and has settings for sensitivity as well as animation. Samsung has incorporated its widget menu on the main screen that can be switched off to return to the normal Windows Mobile desktop.
There are three ways to navigate the handset's menu system: finger touch, stylus, and optical mouse. I'd recommend dumping the stylus and using your finger and the optical mouse pad for selecting the smaller options. I expect the stylus is more of a nostalgic gesture for traditional WinMob users.
Specifically to accommodate for the finger touch method, the Omnia has a size-increase option for the overall display. To try and take it a step further, Samsung has also provided for a more convenient option of a customized main menu that looks like the normal OS of most Samsung handsets including the F480. There's even a secondary media player called 'Touch Player' in addition to Windows Media Player. In this customized menu, Samsung has a real treat with a neat scroll feature for the programs that are listed in alphabetical order.
Another application that's unnecessarily duplicated is image viewing. A 'photo slide' option is available for viewing images. You can swipe your finger across the screen to change pictures in either direction, or view images via thumbnails in a separate section at the bottom on the screen. The second way for viewing images is via the Media Album option. This is more convenient for checking out all media. You can also swipe to change images here, and even set them as the background. The slide show section does not have this feature.
Something I'm a little unsure about is the virtual keyboard for messaging etc. I'm not sure whether I hate it or understand that it's just trying to live out its purpose to the fullest. There are seven different options for messing: three handwriting options (standard in almost all Windows mobiles), and four keypad options (three of which are Samsung-customized). I like the options.
What I didn’t like was the Samsung keypads (being as large as they are) occupying over 30 percent of the display. It not only gives you very little room to move but also tends to block certain fields that you'd need to type in. The keypads pop up automatically if there's a field that requires any sort of typing on a page. The QWERTY keypad is a pain to use in portrait mode most of the time (breathe easy, Apple) but a pleasure to use in landscape. Except if you're used to having the space bar in the center at the bottom, but you'll get over it.
For hassle-free functionality, but unfortunately without the options of EQ presets, use the integrated Windows player. True, the library interface is tiny but overall it's less painful than using the Touch Player. Oddly enough, audio and video sound much louder when played from the native player rather than the Touch Player. It seem as if Samsung’s touchscreen tech went bonkers when it comes to the Playlist creator. It's an extremely annoying task.
Although the interface looks touch-friendly and simple, it's not. Scrolling though the tracks you want to select is quite difficult, and requires some tact and skill. The only thing is if you're listening to random tracks it's easy to navigate.
Watching video is bliss on the large display. Since the player reads DivX and XviD formats it's as easy as copy and paste. There's plenty of space. The FM radio fared well too. On commutes it wasn’t great but it didn't fill my ears with too much static, and that's a good thing.
Other media options include a voice recorder, Samsung’s Digital Frame feature that would make sense if it had the N96's prop-up stand, a player for Podcasts, a video editor that I could not get to work since it never did find any of the videos on board the card or storage memory, and a TV-out. The usual Bubble Breaker and Solitaire games are also preloaded but since the handset also supports Java, if you can find games to fit this screen, you're good to go.
The Omnia is 3G ready; all we need is for the tech to get here. For now it supports EDGE/GPRS and will automatically ready the handset with the appropriate settings (even BPL) as soon as a new SIM is inserted. Brilliant! Opera Mobile is an alternative to using the native IE browser, even if both are a bit slow. IE is much easier to use but Opera has better features.
Windows mobile devices come loaded with net-oriented features like Windows Live and Messenger and Google Launcher – a simple feature that allows you to search, check your mail, and open Google Maps. The handset is also equipped for Internet sharing and can be used as modem for a PC.
The i900 also has an RSS reader for feeds and a streaming player for viewing videos from sites like YouTube. The Shozu client comes preinstalled, so it's easy to upload media to blogs and download ZuCasts. Other connectivity features include Stereo Bluetooth, USB, Wi-Fi and GPS with A-GPS support.
The Omnia uses Route 66 as the software for navigation, and I must say the interface combined with the large display is superb. There are plenty of options to choose from and it's quite user-friendly.
Since the Omnia is a Windows Mobile device, it comes fully equipped to view all your attachments, from JPEG to MS Office docs, PDF files, and PowerPoint presentations. Configuring your email is a cinch, as the handset does it all for you.
The onboard Smart Reader software is extremely handy for capturing information off documents and especially business cards. The image is automatically captured once you’ve targeted the card accurately and the accuracy of information depends on the available lighting. The Omnia has all the necessary features such as a calculator, memo and note pad, world clock, stopwatch, alarm, calendar, Active Sync, converter, and task scheduler.
The built-in 5 megapixel auto focus camera with flash could be a valuable selling point, with features such as image stabilization, 14 scene modes, and face and smile detection. The auto-stitch panorama mode is simplicity itself even for the full 8-shot option – just point, click and move. The camera does the rest.
Normal images in bright sunlight don’t look too sharp in native size, but are quite all right for a CMOS sensor. The images tend to lean towards magenta, and the overall colors aren’t too accurate.
There's a Macro mode for close-ups, and though the images aren’t very sharp they’re still quite decent.
On the whole I liked the Omnia’s camera. The quality may not be excellent, but it's MUCH better than just good enough, with plenty of settings and features at your disposal.
The phone showed 100 percent battery in the morning and by 11 pm it was ready to say goodnight. The worst part is I hardly used it. I watched a 6-minute video, listened to a couple of minutes of audio, sent a few messages, and talked for approximately one hour. I didn't do much web surfing either, but the battery was already dying on me. With pure talktime it lasted just over 3 hours.
If you’re using this handset for business purposes and receive emails frequently, staying online is a sure-fire way to drain the battery. Further, the handset tends to get a bit hot when you use it a lot, especially if you're talking.
I consider the Omnia to be an all-in-one handset with plenty to offer the well-heeled individual. The sarcasm is evident because it's quite a costly device at Rs 40,000. However that price does include a whopping 32GB of storage (16GB internal, 16GB card) so let’s just forget about the hot swap issue. The second model is a 24GB version (8GB internal and 16GB card) and costs Rs 38,000. All MRP of course.
Irrespective of the rating, I still believe the Omnia is a great-looking feature-rich handset. Unfortunately it falls a bit short when it comes to a couple of important features, such as the battery life and consistency of network pick-up.
Samsung i900 Omnia
GSM 850/900/1800/1900, EDGE, 3G
|Physical||112 x 56.9 x 13 mm, 122g|
|Display||240 x 400, 256k colors, TFT Touchscreen, 3.2 inch |
|Memory||8/16GB internal, 16GB MicroSD for external (included) |
|Media||AAC+, MP3, 3GP, DivX, XviD, WMV, Voice Recorder, FM radio, Video editor|
|Camera||5 megapixel, auto-focus, Face/Smile detection, anti-shake, LED flash, secondary camera for video calling, Biz card/Document reader |
|Connectivity||USB v2.0, Bluetooth with A2DP, Wi-Fi |
|Battery||400 hrs standby, 3 hrs 10 mins talktime |
|MRP||32GB - Rs 39,999; 24GB - Rs 37,999|