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Samsung Omnia review: Samsung Omnia

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The Samsung Omnia comes packaged with two power adapters, a USB cable, a wired headset with extra eartips, a 3.5mm headphone audio adapter, a stylus, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phones accessories, ringtones, and help page.

Though it doesn't look like a traditional Windows Mobile device, the Samsung Omnia does run Windows Mobile 6.1 with all the usual trimmings, including the Microsoft Office Mobile Suite and support for Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time message delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. The Omnia can also be configured to access your POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts; we simply entered our Yahoo Mail login ID and password and were able to receive and send messages within a couple of minutes. There are plenty of other PIM tools to keep you on task and organized, including a task list, a task manager and switcher, a smart converter, a calculator, and a PDF reader, among other things.

For Web browsing, you could use Internet Explorer Mobile but the Samsung Omnia also ships with the Opera Mobile Web browser, which many find to be a superior browser. There's also Windows Live integration and a Google Launcher that gives you quick access to search, Gmail, and Google Maps. Unfortunately, there's no Flash support. As far as connecting to the Web, you can use the smartphone's integrated Wi-Fi or T-Mobile or AT&T's EDGE network. The Omnia is HSDPA capable, but as we noted earlier, we reviewed the European model, thus it only supported Europe's 2100 WCDMA bands. When and if the Omnia arrives stateside, we suspect (we certainly hope) it will support our 3G bands.

Phone features include quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, text and multimedia messaging. The phone book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, instant-messaging handles, and birthdays. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a picture, one of 20 polyphonic ringtones, or a group ID. Bluetooth 2.0 is also onboard for use with mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, object exchange, and dial-up networking. And no need for a Bluetooth GPS receiver, since the Samsung Omnia has assisted GPS.

Multimedia plays a big role on the Omnia. As an alternative to the standard Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, Samsung includes something called the Touch Player, which features a nicer user interface and a functionality similar, but not as streamlined, as the iPhone's Coverflow. Supported music and video formats include MP3, WMA, AAC, eAAC+, MP4, 3GPP, H.264, and DivX/Xvid. Other goodies include podcast support, a streaming media player, and an FM radio, though you have to use the included headset for the latter. As for memory, the Samsung Omnia comes in two flavors: 16GB or 8GB. Either way, you should have plenty of storage; plus, you have the microSD/SDHC expansion slot, which accepts up to 16GB cards.

The Samsung Omnia features a 5-megapixel camera with advanced settings and editing options.

The Omnia comes equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with a slew of advanced features. In addition to video recording and digital zoom, you get a flash, auto focus, and face detection. For still images, there are three quality settings and six size options. You have a grand total of 15 shooting modes, ranging from sports to sunset to fireworks as well as white balance adjustment, various effects, ISO settings, and much more. You can even geotag your photos with the embedded GPS radio. In video mode, you don't get as many tools, but you still get three size and three quality choices.

We were impressed with the clarity of photos, though we would have liked just a bit more richness in colors.

Picture quality was impressive. We were amazed at how clear and defined objects looked in photos, and the camera response time was also good. The only thing we thing we would have liked is a bit more richness in color. Video quality was better than most camera phones we've tested. Once done, you can, of course, send your photos via e-mail or multimedia message. The Omnia also has a Digital Frame application that displays the time and date, while rotating through your photo gallery in the background. Finally, you get TV-out capabilities and a video editing application is included on the device in case you want to make a quick movie on the spot.

Performance We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; EDGE) Samsung Omnia in San Francisco using T-Mobile service and call quality was OK. In general, audio was good but there were several occasions where there was some crackling in the background, and it got to be a little distracting. We didn't experience any dropped calls, though, and we had no problem using an airline's voice automated response system. Our friends also reported fairly good results with just one complaint of slight distortion. The speakerphone was pretty clear, but the audio can sound blown out when you jack the volume to hear the calls in louder environments. We were able to pair the Omnia with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

We were generally pleased with the performance on the Samsung Omnia. It was responsive most of the time but suffered a bit of that notorious Windows Mobile sluggishness when too many things were going on at once. Browsing the Net on EDGE speeds wasn't ideal, obviously, but the smartphone had no problem finding and connecting to our Wi-Fi network so we could enjoy faster Web surfing. Music playback through the phone's speakers lacked bass and like speakerphone calls, the audio sounded blown out when we had the volume set to high. Again, we wish that Samsung included a 3.5mm jack so we could enjoy songs through a nice pair of headphones. Video performance was acceptable. We watched a couple of WMV clips, and sound and picture were always synchronized, but we'd still limit it to short clips.

The Samsung Omnia comes with a 1,440mAh lithium ion battery, which has a rated battery talk time of 10 hours and up to 18 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, the Omnia provided an astonishing 15 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge, which is one the longest results we've seen in a while.

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