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The new Omnia from Samsung claims to do it all. It comes with a great camera sensor, built-in GPS, DivX player, and various office tools to keep you connected. But is this smartphone just another jack of all trades, master of none phone?


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The Omnia is a solid unit despite its lightweight factor. Up front, users can find the earpiece, a secondary camera (for video calling), a 3.2-inch touchscreen (with a resolution of 400 x 240), a talk/speakerphone key, a trackpad, and an end/device lock key.

The Main Menu key, Volume keys, and Camera key are located on the right spine, while the unit’s multifunction jack (for PC Sync, Charging, and Hands-free use) is found on the opposite side. Finally, a 5-megapixel camera is located at the back of the unit, in addition to the SIM card slot and microSD card slot under the battery cover.

The Samsung Omnia runs on a 624MHz Marvell PXA312 processor with 128MB RAM and comes with a 8GB internal memory (expandable using microSD). It runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, but uses a proprietary skin to help simplify the ‘touch’ experience.

Users can customise the Omnia’s Today screen with the help of widgets. Tapping the arrow at the bottom left of the screen opens the toolbar which allows you to rearrange widgets or move them to the Today screen by dragging and dropping. Widgets include an analogue clock, games shortcut, photo album, world clock, today’s date, digital clock, music player, FM radio, service status, profile, and memo.

 


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Samsung has pre-installed a lot of programs on the Omnia to ensure it can do ‘everything.’ Programs include MS Office Mobile suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook), Windows Media Player, Windows Live Messenger, Video Editor, an RSS Reader, Opera Browser, and even Google Maps and Launcher. It even comes with an FM tuner for on air music listening as well as a Smart Reader program that reads and stores business cards with a touch of a button.

The handset is HSDPA-enabled, giving users speedy Internet while on the go. It also comes with Wi-Fi built-in, which allows you to connect to any available wireless network and let you surf, check e-mails, chat, and download without the additional carrier fee. Bluetooth is also available for speedy headset or computer pairing. It also sports a GPS receiver, allowing users to use the Omnia as a navigation device.

It is easy to access programs on the Omnia as the icons were large enough. The on-screen QWERTY keyboard takes a while to get used to, but definitely gets easier over time. And depending on the unit’s orientation, you can view icons, movies, and photos in portrait or landscape mode.

The only problem we had with the unit’s touch screen is the fact that it is very sensitive: sometimes it launched programs while we were trying to scroll up/down the Main Menu or typed a button we didn’t even want to press. In addition, we also had problems clicking icons outside of the skin – we needed to accurately press some Windows icons and the only way to do that is to use a stylus. 

 


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The unit was speedy and ran Windows Media Player, Opera, and the Office suite without experiencing slowdowns. The only time it ran slow was after running 6 to 7 programs. But this is not Samsung’s fault: Windows Mobile runs an opened program in the background even after ‘closing’ it. The only way for a user to make the unit speedy again is by running the Task Manager (via Start -> Programs or by pressing the upper right button) and closing all the unneeded programs.

Multimedia files are not an issue as the Omnia can play MP3/AAC/AAC+/WMA/OGG/AMR files as well as movie files in DivX/XviD/WMV/MP4 format. The built-in speakers are loud enough, but users are recommended to use headphones instead. Unfortunately, users would have to hook up the proprietary hands-free adapter first (comes with a 3.5mm jack) before being able to use their headphones. A TV out function is also available, though users must purchase an optional jack separately.

The Omnia’s 5-megapixel camera is just as good as any other cameraphone in this range, providing us with sharp and colourful photos. The only problem with the phone is its image processing: we got some blurred photos because we moved the camera too early.

 


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The unit can also be networked, as it is compatible with DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance). DLNA is a collaboration of various companies that aims to provide seamless integration in the home. This means that the Omnia can download content from a DLNA-certified products (such as the PS3 or Vaio), and can stream audio to it. 

Better to bring your charger along if you plan to use the Omnia extensively. Our demo unit only lasted less than a day despite only checking a couple of e-mails, calling a couple of friends, and sending a few SMS’s to contacts. It will last even shorter if you turn on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so better keep the unit juiced up.

While it cannot compete with Apple’s iPhone, Samsung’s Omnia is one of those touch-based handsets that Windows owners can appreciate. It comes with Wi-Fi, HSDPA, can store a lot of data, help you get things done with its various software programs, and is fairly easy to use. Just make sure that you bring your stylus for easy button access.

See page over for product specifications and final rating.

 

Samsung Omnia SGH-i900 product specifications:

Band: GSM Quad-Band (850, 900, 1,800, 1,900MHz), UMTS 2,100MHz
Network and Data: HSDPA (7.2Mbps), EDGE, GPRS Class12
Browser: WAP 2.0 / Internet Explorer / Opera
Java: Java MIDP 2.0

Screen: 3.2-inch 65K TFT WQVGA (400×240)

Battery:
Talk time: Up to 6 hours
Standby: Up to 400 hours

Camera:
Resolution: 5-megapixel
Digital Zoom: 4x
LED flash: Power LED
Auto Focus: Yes
Shot mode: Smile, Panorama, Face Detection, Mosaic, Continuous

Business and Office:
Document Viewer
Mobile Printing
Offline Mode

Messaging: Email and SMS

Connectivity:
Bluetooth
USB
Wi-Fi
GPS
TV-Out
PC Sync Application

Memory: 8GB
External Memory: microSD up to 16GB

Dimensions: 112.0 x 56.9 x 12.5mm
Weight: 125g

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Samsung Omnia SGH-i900 | $849 |  | www.samsung.com.au

For: Can do just about anything; Big screen; Responsive Samsung skin; DLNA networking; Camera Output
Against: Hard to press Windows keys; Battery Life; Need to constantly run the Task Manager to free up memory
Conclusion: Samsung’s smartphone lets you do it all.

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