Samsung I8000 Omnia II preview: First look
The proprietary TouchWiz user interface
The Samsung I8000 Omnia II runs on the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional OS but normally you wouldn't guess that at first sight. The start menu might give it away but Samsung have done a pretty good job of customizing the rest of the UI.
The company's proprietary TouchWiz UI is installed on top of the Microsoft OS and covers it so completely that it's hard to come across those boring native menus. The only major gap we noticed is the Programs folder which isn't yet customized but then again, it might just be our pre-release unit.
The Samsung I8000 Omnia II actually has four different homescreens. They can be alternated by touching the small cubes in the bottom right corner (the cubes are numbered 1 to 3, and the fourth screen comes on when no cube is selected).
All four screens are there for the user to fill up with widgets. You can also assign different wallpapers to each homescreen to tell them apart more easily.
The widgets are numerous mini applications or shortcuts to different parts of the user interface, sitting in the tray until drawn to the screen. If the user needs to place a new widget on the screen all that has to be done is click the arrow at the bottom left corner of the homescreen and slide the widget bar out.
The available widgets vary quite a lot - from digital clock, through image gallery and profile manager to the CNN news application. You can also download additional widgets via the - yeah you guessed that right - the Download Widget.
The widgets approach is quite similar to the one we witnessed on the Samsung i900 Omnia but the I8000 Omnia II has two key advantages over its predecessor. For one - the widgets interface has been nicely improved since, both visually and functionally. The other great benefit of the I8000 Omnia II is the fact that this time the Samsung engineers decided to go all the way and customize the interface inside out.
Windows Mobile beyond recognition
While we are pretty confident that the omnipresent TouchFLO 3D interface will be ported to the Samsung I8000 Omnia II sooner or later there is no need to rush with getting it as the handset has quite a lot to offer itself.
The handset also has a really neat task manager with cool graphics. It displays a scrollable list of thumbnails representing the currently running programs. You can choose to end a task or switch to it.
The new Task Manager is more advanced and is available through the custom Settings menu provided by Samsung. The Task manager not only does it display the currently running processes, but also their RAM and CPU footprint.
You can't switch between them however and in this respect it reminds us a lot of the Windows XP/Vista task manager. The good thing is that it's also capable of showing all the currently running system processes.
Another pleasing aspect of the Samsung I8000 Omnia II UI is the back button functionality. Placed comfortably under your thumb - on the right-hand side of the device - it takes you one step back throughout the whole menu system. It doesn't however quit running applications. Again, this might have something to do with the pre-release status of our unit since the very button has the X pictogram.
All that being said, Samsung I8000 Omnia II has one other novel software feature, which is also a key element of the external design of the handset - it's the Cube that has inspired the big 3D key below the display.