Samsung Epix (AT&T) review:

Samsung Epix (AT&T)

For e-mail, the Epix offers Microsoft's Direct Push technology for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. The smartphone also works with other e-mail solutions, including AT&T Xpress Mail and Good Mobile Messaging, and there's support for POP3 and IMAP accounts. We set up our review unit to access our Yahoo Plus e-mail, and after simply entering our login ID and password, it downloaded our in-box content within minutes. You can set the time interval (ranging from every 5 minutes to once a day) for how often you want message retrieval. The Epix also comes preloaded with three instant-messaging clients: AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger.

The Samsung Epix's voice features include quad-band world-roaming, a speakerphone, speed dialing, three-way calling, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The Epix does add voice-dialing capabilities, which was missing on the BlackJack II. The address book is limited only by available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and each entry can accommodate up to 12 numbers, several e-mail addresses, IM handles, job titles, and additional details. For caller ID, you can assign a contact a picture, a group ID, or one of 27 polyphonic ringtones. Like the BlackJack II, the Epix also supports AT&T's Video Share service, which allows you to make video calls. Plans for Video Share start at $4.99 per month.

Bluetooth 2.0 is onboard, so you can pair the Epix with wireless and stereo Bluetooth headsets and hands-free kits. There's also support for Bluetooth peripherals (keyboards, printers, and so forth), and wireless file transfers. Unfortunately, it doesn't support the dial-up networking profile, so you can't use the smartphone as a wireless modem for your laptop.

The Samsung Epix is a tri-band UMTS/HSDPA smartphone, bringing you data speeds of up to network for a broadband-like connection on your mobile device. There are multiple factors that affect 3G speeds, such as where you live and how many people are on the network on one time, but you can expect speeds around 400Kbps to 700Kbps (with the potential to hit up to 2Mbps). Since the Epix is a tri-band (850/1900/2100), you'll be able to access 3G networks while abroad as well.

Unlike the BlackJack II, the Samsung Epix has integrated Wi-Fi, providing you with another method for surfing the Web on your smartphone. Our review unit was able to find and connect to our wireless network with no problem. The Epix also features built-in assisted GPS. While you can get maps and text-based, turn-by-turn driving directions with an app like Google Maps for Mobile, for real-time tracking and data and voice-guided directions, you'll need to use location-based service. The Epix works with AT&T Navigator as well as the recently launched AT&T Navigator Global Edition, so you can get route guidance overseas.

On back, you'll find the 2-megapixel camera and self-portrait mirror. However, there is no flash.

The Samsung Epix comes with a 2-megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom and video recording capabilities. You can take pictures in one of five sizes and one of four quality settings. There's a self-timer as well as five shooting modes. Though there's no flash, you get white balance settings and you can add various effects to an image. In camcorder mode, you get the same four quality settings, but there's only a choice of two sizes.

Picture quality was OK, but colors looked washed out.

Picture quality was mediocre. As we've found with a number of camera-equipped smartphones, the objects were sharply defined with nice clean lines but the colors were a bit off and looked washed out. Meanwhile, we were quite impressed with the video quality. Recorded clips looked clean, with minimal pixelation and choppiness.

As for other multimedia features, you get the standard Windows Media Player 10 Mobile with support for a number of audio and video formats, including AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV files, to name a few. In addition, you can stream music and video via AT&T Music and AT&T Video. These add-on services enable you to access content, such as Napster to Go, streaming XM satellite radio, music videos, MusicID for identifying song titles and artist, and video programming from CNN, ESPN, and NBC, among other channels.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900/2100) Samsung Epix in San Francisco using AT&T service and call quality was good. There was minimal background noise as we talked to friends, allowing us to enjoy clear conversations. In addition, we had no problems using an airline's voice-automated response system. On the other end, our callers reported similarly positive results, though there were a couple of instances of echoing. Speakerphone quality was generally fine. We noticed some slight static and hissing, but didn't find that it interrupted conversation. We successfully paired the Epix with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

During our review period, we found the Epix to be a very responsive device, with minimal performance lags even with numerous applications open and no system crashes. We were also impressed with the multimedia performance on the Epix. Music playback had a nice, rich sound and good volume. That said, we still wish the Epix was equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack. Watching videos was also fine. We wouldn't watch any full-length films on the Epix, but the experience of viewing a couple of short WMV files was decent.

The Samsung Epix features a 1,800mAh lithium ion battery that has a rated talk time of 7 hours and up to 14 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, the Epix lasted 4 hours on a single charge on AT&T's 3G network. According to FCC radiation tests, the Epix has a digital SAR rating of 1.3 watts per kilogram.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

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