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Samsung Omnia i900 at CommunicAsia 2008

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I went down to CommunicAsia 08 today at Singapore Expo and together with my digital director (aka my boss) we scouted the floor of CommunicAsia and man, it was huge. Not too sure if it was the biggest ever but it sure was tiring walking from hall to hall.

Anyway, met up with a partner in the webtv space and checked out their partners in the mobile framework and broadcast space and certainly a lot of opportunities for all parties to explore working together. We now have a solid team of 6 developers across multiple programming discipline and mobile space is one we ain’t gonna sit by and watch.

Yahoo was there with their mobile framework for ‘planting’ gadget like application across multiple handset. Looks simple enough to start and all one need is code according to their template / xml and that’s it. Something like the Apple Store or iTunes, where all the developers need is to submit to Yahoo and it gets deployed by Yahoo to their Yahoo widget / gadget section on their website, across the mobile site, and the ability to have user download the widget application onto their mobile phone. Yahoo will take care of the different screen size, platform and so forth… All the developer need is the code on their xml template. The client version that gets installed is on Java so any platform that supports Java is fine, other than iPhone which one could access the Yahoo mobile web to see the same functionality of the gadget online, the rest of the mobile OS like Symbian, Windows Mobile, Mobile Linux (whatever variant of it) are supported, including Blackberry.

Then we checked out the all new Samsung Omnia i900. Yeah, the one I was curious about days ago and posted some videos of it here and here. Based on what I read and saw on those video, my gut feeling disappointment was the screen resolution which is measured by 240 x 400. The rest of the other disappointment are… already accepted as fact on the Windows Mobile platform so I won’t bother much with the complaint…

Back to the screen and the overall feel. My opinions here:

  • The build quality is excellent. I must admit it really is very sleek, because of the narrow design, just like the HTC touch… in comparison to iPhone which is wider and I will come to that in minute why I felt the iPhone is best while Omnia isn’t. The back of the phone is some sort of metal cover rather than plastic… need to verify but at least it feels aluminium. It feels professional and it fits nicely.
  • The UI enhancement that Samsung placed onto the phone is not too bad… except the home screen part. The whole sidebar widget thingy with drag and drop onto the desktop… what the heck is that for? It does not sit well as on a small mobile screen. I have not fully explore  if it could auto arrange it such it stick to some form of grid if need be and even then… I don’t quite get the beauty of it. In my opinion, it just makes the home screen more messy and and I have a feeling it’s there because it is fancy… and it can be disable under the home theme setting.
  • Another nice thing that I noticed in my short 8 mins with the phone and that is the little vibrating feedback when you tap on the screen. Not sure if you will like to have that turn on with the stylus but it worked flawlessly with finger tap.
  • The video recording on the phone was a nice touch. Not sure the fps but the playback was pretty acceptable for a phone camera. I like that.
  • Here comes my biggest compliant, the screen. The width of the screen to be precise. It has a 240 x 400 resolution and that’s not gorgeous in my opinion but that’s not the biggest disappointment. The disappointment is that the screen width is too narrow. The Omnia has the nice accelerometer effect with you go from portrait to landscape and that does a pretty good job with the overall experience, but because the screen is narrow, the landscape keyboard takes on a huge compromise and what you are left with to type is just one small area at the top of the screen (in landscape mode) to see what you are typing! A slightly wider screen would have make the experience of typing on it fast and nice. Now back to portrait mode, same thing… typing on it was horrible as all the soft buttons are narrow in design just so that it could fit the qwerty soft key on it. And that is horrible to tap on!!! Of course one would argue that I was tapping on my finger and not the stylus which would probably be fine… so if you are a stylus guy all the time on this phone, then you probably can live with it. To me, it could have been so much better with a slightly wider screen, not necessary have to be iPhone screen width but at least wider than the current one. The pros of that is that the whole phone on the hand is nice as your hand can kinda grab it nicely. The compromise to me is bad input experience cos the soft keys are either too narrow to tap faster in portrait mode or the typing area is too small when in landscape mode.  And inputting on a mobile device… isn’t that suppose to be a big thing?

There you have it… my little 8 mins of experience with the Omnia i900. Overall it’s a nice implementation from a Windows Mobile manufacturer… Other than the screen resolution and the width of it, the rest are well implemented. The price is pretty high though without mobile plan… SGD$1000 plus just for the phone itself and it is available in retail in Singapore next week according to the Samsung personnel there. Other than the Singtel formula 1 car simulation that drew the most crowd, the Samsung Omnia certainly gotten a lot of attention.

Side note, there’s a nice Microsoft Surface table at the Samsung booth… the level of interactivity of that kinda surface and the application that one can develop for that is incredible.

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Written by gooddealz

June 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Opinions

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