First Impressions of the Samsung Omnia i900


Neat and Slim - also not my hand ;-)

Neat and Slim - also not my hand 😉

The Samsung Omnia i900 is now officially available in Malaysia.  At RM2,999 for the 16GB model and RM2,799 for the 8GB model, it is currently priced as the top-of-the-line Windows Mobile device.  If you are not a prior user of a Windows Mobile device, you should read on as this is not written as an OS piece.  It’s an impression of having played with the Omnia.  A more detailed posting will be done when I get to actually use it for a period of time.  Let’s see if I can lay my hands on a unit soon.

For now, this is my first impressions of the Omnia.

The Feel

I do like the feel immediately when I held placed it in my palm.  It has a very comfortable and expensive feel given the black and metalic finish.  You know how it feels when you have a plastic feel verses a metal feel.  It’s better than the iPhone feel too although I must say that the iPhone has a better shape with its curved edges.  Only the plastic back of the iPhone gives me a hesitation to own one at the moment.

Is it slim enough?  Definitely.  I’m very pleased that Samsung managed to get it down to this thin profile for a Windows Mobile device.  Given my experience with Windows Mobile devices, this is a dream.  The hardware requirements for this type of device is very challenging to make it any slimmer and Samsung managed it.  HTC also gave us in the Touch family.  I’m sure this will be the standard profile for newer non-QUERTY keyboard devices.  Both Samsung and HTC have managed to crack the thickness problem ever plaging the Windows Mobile phones.

Responsiveness

It is very important for a Windows Mobile device to be responsive.  As even in the Nokia and Sony Ericsson smartphones, responsiveness have been a bane.  Windows Mobile devices by most vendors have that challenge.  You can check with people who have used O2, HTC, Asus and Toshiba being the bigger vendors in Malayia.

The Omnia is definitely responsive.  The application change one to another comes through with no fuss.  Tapping on icons or dragging them around the screen gives an instant response.  Fast enough although I had wished that it was faster still, but is good enough.  Maybe when I get to use one for a longer period, I may change my mind on this one, especially when I load my standard fare of applications into the Omnia.  Something to think about for the next round.

Interface

If you are like me hating to use a stylus, you will love the Omnia.  I’ve been “fingering” all my PDAs as much as I can because I really hate to pull out the stylus and it’s so thin to use.  Imagine using the lead of the pencil to write.  It’s a close enough example.  I’ve tried those finger cap stylus where a plastic tip is placed over the finger to mimic the stylus.  Well, I’m not a sucker for gimmicks like that.  A finger all natural is still the best.  The iPhone made that quantum leap.  That’s the benchmark.  No stylus operation required.  However, the underlying Windows Mobile OS makes a stylus a requirement as they were not designed for a finger touch.  Things like Settings and Screen Alignment will need the stylus.  Hence, the stylus is still available in the Omnia but for all other daily use, your finger is all you need.

In the Omnia, finger tapping and motion works very well indeed.  You must really appreciate the challenge for Windows Media devices because such actions are not part of the original hardware definition.  Both Samsung and HTC went ahead to make it work with both hardware and software.  Kudos to them both.

The Omnia has a Today Plugin that’s really cool, much like the Vista Sidebar.  And you have the option to hide it too, with a tap of a finger.  Beyond the Plugin, there are also new interface applets that shows you the clock, calendar and even the messages in new windows.  These eye candies are really cool, looks much better than the native Windows Mobile applications which are still running below the neat apps.

The ability to overlay plugins and applets over the base Windows Mobile OS is giving vendors like Samsung and HTC a chance to define a new benchmark that can differentiate them from the rest of the pack.  After all, the iPhone is set apart not because of the internal technologies but the User Interface that matters most to all users.  I think all future serious manufacturers for Windows Mobile devices must follow Samsung and HTC in this UI style to define for themselves a key differentiator that can also set them apart as well as create a new branding too.

Samsung also has an Auto Rotation ability similar to the iPhone.  When you tilt the Omnia in landscape format, the screen automatically changes to landscape format.  It can detect the change from Portrait to Landscape and back.  One limitation is that in order for the Omnia to detect the change in Portrait to Landscape and back, it must be done in a vertical position.  The hardware can only detect it that way.

One nice enhancement is the vibration feel each time you move from screen to screen or select an application or option on the screen.  It gives you a motion cue besides the visual cue on the screen.  I like that a lot but I wonder if the vibration buzzer will last long enough till the next unit I get and if it eats up a lot of power.  Anyway, thumbs up for a nice subtle enhancement in the Omnia.

Samsung calls it the TouchWiz UI and HTC calls it their TouchFlo.  These are new sub-brands that will set their devices apart from the rest of the pack.

Closing Thoughts

I recommend you to try it out.  PDA Phones have come down significantly in price since the early days when they were way above RM3k and now variety aplenty.  But the 8GB/16GB Omnia (no other devices with such lavish memory – Diamond has 4GB) certainly deserves more than a second look and I’m sure you will find it a very satisfactory PDA Phone.  Furthermore, looking like an iPhone, it can certainly attract your friends as a talking show-off piece.

Isn’t that worth something?  I’m sure it does.

More to come… stay tuned!



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2 Comments to “First Impressions of the Samsung Omnia i900”

  1. I would like to know the exactl price of Samsung Omnia…
    Cuz somebody said the price is around RM2799 for 16G…

  2. Hi Ed

    The price of Omnia is coming down. It is no longer RM2799 for 16GB. In fact, if you negotiate hard enough, you can get it for around RM2599 for 16GB. That means lower for 8GB. Check out Subang Parade or Digital Mall and shop around.

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