Samsung i900 Omnia review: The whole nine yards

GSMArena team, 25 July 2008.
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All the software on-board

The Samsung i900 Omnia comes loaded with additional third-party software to meet various Windows Mobile user needs. It's got regular stuff such as the RSS Reader and Streaming player, but it has some really original applications to go along. You should bear in mind though, that the software package might be market-specific.

First of all, it's nice of Samsung to have preinstalled both a Task Switcher and a Task Manager on the Omnia. The Task Switcher is readily available throughout the whole user interface upon a press-and-hold of the side mounted Main Menu key.

The Task Switcher just displays all your currently running applications, allowing you to toggle or terminate them if you wish.

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The Task Switcher is available upon a longer press of the Main Menu key on the right

The Task Manager is more advanced and is available through the Settings menu. It not only displays the currently running processes, but also their RAM and CPU footprint. You can't switch between them however and in this respect it reminds a lot of the Windows XP/Vista task manager. The good thing is that it's also capable of showing all the system processes that are currently running.

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The Task Manager is hidden in the Settings menu it can display either applications only or all processes

Next up, the RSS Reader application is rather self explanatory. It gives you quick access to RSS feeds for staying on top of the latest news and content at your favorite web places.

The ArcSoft Streaming player grants access to custom sources of streaming audio and video.

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The RSS Reader: reading the GSMArena.com RSS feed the Streaming player

The Podcasts application allows you to subscribe and download video and audio podcasts of your choice.

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The Podcasts manager

A touch-optimized unit converter is also on board. It has much the same interface as all other touch-optimized applications onboard.

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The touch-optimized unit convertor is excellent

Samsung have even thrown in a Video Editor, which not only allows you to edit videos, but you can also create ones out of a set of images - for example your camera photos. The resulting videos are in QVGA resolution in MPEG4 format.

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Video Editor might be a fun way to share your vacation photos: choosing slides adding effects changing transitions

Now here is a short MPEG4 video that we've created with the Video editor demonstrating what it can do for you if you devote it several minutes.

Next, there is the ShoZu client, which connects you to the ShoZu community. You can upload and share videos and photos (with geo-tagging support) or you can connect to Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Blogger and the likes.

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The ShoZu client connects you to the ShoZu community

The Goggle Package gives you access to the Google Search and Gmail online services, as well as the pre-installed Google Maps 2.0.1

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The Google app gives you quick access to Google search, gmail and maps

And finally, the Picture Frame application allows you to use the i900 Omnia as a digital picture frame with highly customizable content.

Besides displaying a slide show of images in landscape mode, the Picture Frame also offers a total of 5 different clock/date styles. You can have music playing in the background too and, if needed, event alerts such as incoming message or alarms can be suppressed when Digital Frame is running. Furthermore, the interface of the application is highly touch optimized.

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The Digital Frame app and the various ways of displaying information - it even shows your appointments on the calendar

A cool GPS navigator

The Samsung i900 Omnia features a built-in GPS receiver - probably manufactured by Samsung themselves, though that's not confirmed by the company.

The Omnia supports A-GPS - it means you can download current satellite data over Wi-Fi or the 2G/3G network for a much faster satellite lock upon cold start. While a cold start can take anywhere between 5 or 7 minutes, with A-GPS lock is obtained within a minute.

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The Omnia A-GPS data download manager

The Omnia doesn't have a GPS navigation application pre-installed, so you have to purchase one separately. Google Maps however comes on-board, so you can use that as a primer.

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Viewing a map on the Samsung Omnia (Google Maps, Barcelona)

The i900 Omnia performed admirably as an in-car navigation unit. While its display is not legible enough in bright sunlight, we had no problem with it on the dashboard.

We did a dedicated GPS battery test to see how far you can get with the Omnia in GPS mode. We clocked the Samsung i900 at standstill position with constant full satellite lock. It pulled off a nice result of 4 hours and 20 minutes. You should bear in mind that in a moving vehicle those numbers will be lower.

Just for the sake of comparison, the HTC Touch Cruise and the HTC TyTN II lasted about 3.5 - 4 hours in this same test. The Asus P750 however managed to outshine them all by a good margin - it kept going for 6 hours straight.

Final words

The Samsung i900 Omnia has left us with nothing but good impressions. Everything about the device speaks "high-tech" - from the innovative touch interface through the rich connectivity and multimedia capabilities to the exclusive hardware characteristics such as the optical touchpad or the 5 megapixel camera.

It's probably the first time that a Windows Mobile PocketPC turns out as a fully-fledged multimedia device. Samsung have made sure that the i900 Omnia is equally fit for both business and entertainment.

Of course there are a few downers - some things are not up to the expected high standards (such as the sunlight legibility of display) while other stuff will benefit from some tweaking or software updating (such as the camera performance and the Flash support).

But overall the Samsung Omnia is a well-balanced product that seems in for some major success on the market. We think that "balanced" is the key word here as the major competitors - the HTC Touch Diamond and the iPhone 3G - seem to offer more in some respects but severely fall behind in others.

And what's more, at a startup price of 500 euro, the Samsung i900 Omnia is also a good value for money as this kind of cash would hardly buy you a more complete feature pack than that.

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