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CNET First Look
Samsung Mondi WiMaxIf you can afford it and you can find a place for it in your gadget world, the Samsung Mondi should deliver a satisfying user experience.
[ MUSIC ] ^M00:00:03 >> [Ken Sherman:] Hi, I'm Ken Sherman, senior editor here at CNET.com. Today we're taking a first look at the Samsung Mondi. This is not a cell phone; it doesn't have a cellular radio. It's a little bit of a confusing device in some ways because it's part of a lot of things. It's a media player, it's a GPS device, it's an internet tablet, it's a VOIP cell phone and a handheld with an organizer for email, so kind of a lot of things going on here. Like any internet tablet, it is rather big. You won't be able to fit it in your pocket unless you have a really huge pocket. Some people complain about the size, but I really think that's just what you get when you get a device like this. I think a bigger concern is where you would actually fit this device into your life. It is a WiMax device, and so it's really best for WiMax markets supplied by Clearwire. Right now that's only Atlanta, Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon, and you can also use it in Baltimore using Sprint's WiMax network. But really it is limited as far as places where you can use it to its fullest extent. We don't have WiMax service in the Bay area, so I can't show you that aspect of it, but I can walk through everything else. Everything that this Mondi does, a lot of other devices do. You get GPS, you get full internet browser, email messaging, a lot of things you can find here you can get on a cell phone or a smart phone. It is 349, which is a significant cost; that's with a two-year contract, 449 without. Unless you're willing to give up your cell phone completely and just rely on VOIP calls, which I wouldn't do personally, I just think that's a significant cost, especially when you have all these other gadgets you'll be carrying around. It does have a pretty nice design, though. It feels very solid in the hand. It feels very comfortable. Of course, the main thing you notice that it's this very bright screen, it's over four inches, very colorful, very vibrant, showed text, graphics, photos, everything really well. Has a touch interface that's pretty responsive. I could scroll around web pages easily, select icons. A lot of things are big enough to use my fingers, but the device does come with a stylus. It fits right here. The stylus you'll need for things like a scroll bar on the side of a window, maybe some of the smaller icons. So I would just use the stylus all the time; it's probably easiest. A few controls on the outside. It does have a home button here. It has a button that will bring up the TouchWiz interface which I'll mention here in a second. Here on the top you'll see that there's a, stereo speakers, a power button, camera shutter. On this side we have a charger port, it is a standard micro USB which is great. Also has a 3.5 millimeter headset jack, also a nice thing. Here on this side you'll find the volume rocker. On the back there is a camera. Does have a kickstand for putting on a table. Our only design complaint that it's pretty easy to knock the device down if you hit it from the sides. Just go like that. It is a slider. Slide it up, you'll see a full keyboard. It has a very spacious, the keys are pretty flat but they're big enough. We had no problems using them. Numbers share space with letters and symbols, but that's not a big deal. You see that all the time. The only complaint is that the top row is a little close to the slider. Did hit it a few times. Does have a fair number of shortcut keys, though. Also have a touchpad navigation control with an OK button that you can use for going to the menus. Personally I never really used it. I just used a, the touch screen. Also have another rocker right here for volume or for scrolling through pages, and a couple soft keys. This is a Windows Mobile 6.1 device, which is a little disappointing considering that it's a bit old and I'm not a fan, a Windows Mobile fan. For the uninitiated, it is quite some time to get used to it, to find things you need. Samsung does try to dress it up a bit with some menus and interfaces that the company designed itself. Let's talk a little about interfaces and menus right here. It has a fair number of icons. You can actually choose which icons you'd like to appear here. Very bright, very simple, clean interface but also attractive. Other things I liked as we scroll down here, you can see that the web pages are displayed in almost like a cover-flow format, like we see in the iPhone. You can switch back and forth between them. You can open the ones that you want. Same goes for your contacts, you can flip through them like this. So pretty nice, do like that. Also like this interface here, which has sort of a bubble design, as they call it. Shows you messages, shows your calls coming through, calendar appointments. You just slide it back and forth. So pretty nice. But of course it is Windows Mobile 6.1 so you will have to get to those menus eventually. The device is a little schizophrenic in that sense. You will see some settings menus have a Samsung design, others settings menus have a Windows Mobile design. Overall, I think if you live in a WiMax market, you can afford it and you find a space in your life for this device, it will follow through. Has a lot of features. It performs well in the tests that we could have, and it has a nice design. I'm Ken Sherman, and this is the Samsung Mondi. ^M00:04:15 [ MUSIC ]