Samsung Omnia HD Review Part-3: Software and Accessories
In this rather late third part of the review of the Omnia HD, we bring to you a low down on the software that makes the Omnia HD a performer.
As you all know the Omnia HD is Samsung’s first S60 5th edition device and the third touch screen S60 phone to be launched. Samsung with a good experience in touch screen phones, has for some reason failed to deliver a product that sets it apart from an N97 or a 5800. Sure, in terms of the hardware and the camera performance, the Omnia HD is one helluva performer, but some downright silly niggles keep the Omnia HD from becoming a high seller. The good part of it, a firmware update can easily fix it.
So let me run you through the software or rather the OS of the phone. The Symbian based S60 5th edition is an OS designed originally for non touchscreen phones and later, adapted to touchscreen phones. This is very much evident from the manner in which the menu and options are designed. Samsung has on it’s part tried to customize it and make it more finger friendly, it has in some cases succeeded and in other areas failed.
The Omnia HD has two distinct icon sets working in tandem in a theme (Samsung LBS image and the above). This makes using the phone confusing initially and also points to a shoddy customization process. A single complete icon set should have been used instead of 2 different ones.
Our review device came with only two themes and none of them were exciting enough to have, I’m sure the Omnia HD could have been given some great themes, like the i450 had, once upon a time. The accelerometer also was programmed to work in the most vague manner I have seen. For example, when the screen was tilted to landscape mode, one would naturally, that the phone’s orientation would also change, but in the ‘Main Menu’, it refused to do so. If you were to tilt the phone in a sub-menu, it will work just fine. As silly and unimportant it may sound, this little niggle really irritated me. Every time I needed to do something with the phone, I would have to constantly rotate the phone. This made the phone an extremely impractical device to have. It also meant that taking screen shots in landscape mode was not possible and I could not get even a single screen shot in the landscape mode.
Another place where this auto rotation problem made things irritating and down right frustrating was the input via a QWERTY setup. The phone’s OS was not programmed to show a number pad which could be used to key in text. It kept on switching between a QWERTY (landscape) and the menu screen (portrait). This meant I sparingly used the keypad and relied mostly on a QWERTY device of Nokia for my typing needs. I wonder why Samsung could not implement landscape view for the main menu, it did implement it elsewhere in the phone!
The browser is another area which disappointed me, why for the love of good things, could Samsung not implement fullscreen view as a default is beyond me. A 3.7 inch screen should have had default fullscreen view in the browser! I had to manually do it everytime for a good internet experience.
The Bluetooth option on the phone also has two distinct menus. Why did Samsung do that? I have no idea. While one involves a lot of touch input and every selection must be saved for the phone to process. This setup is simply ridiculous and makes one ponder why could this not have been automated. The other menu for bluetooth seems to be the answer to that question. This UI execution for switching the bluetooth on and off is very simple and easy to use. It should be made mandatory in all phones. One has to tap the center of the screen, and the bluetooth is switched on, the ‘advanced’ settings are conveniently tucked away under an icon. Now why did Samsung not make this the only way to use bluetooth in this phone? Only Samsung UI designers would know.
Widget Support is another area where the Omnia HD scores really high. The TouchWIZ based widget support means that many of the options and settings are available in the form of shortcuts and you can have them either on the sidebar or on 1 of the 3 screen panes. While it is not as novel a way as N97, this kind of design for the UI makes it possible to do much more on the homescreen, and that is a good thing. I did miss a certain setting found in the Nokia devices about cycling the wallpaper, and I hope it comes to the HD soon.
Another area, where Samsung have worked is in the music player area. The music player is application in the Omnia HD has been executed really well, it is clear Samsung did not want the standard Nokiaesque music player application to ruin the music experience. So all that can be made easily accessible to the listener in terms of settings was put up front in the form of buttons onscreen. What this allowed me as a listener was to play with the music settings and choose on the go how I wanted my music to sound without having to dig deep into the menu. The landscape mode in this application revealed an iPhone sort of browsing of the tracks on the phone. The visualizations also were absolutely wonderful. Samsung’s UI designer have really worked on this part of the UI and delivered a superior experience when compared to a Nokia N97 or even a 5800.
The music on the phone with the presence of a Dolby 5.1 setting along with many other options made for a very very interesting and fun experience. I’ve never had so much fun listening to music on my phone. The customizations possible with regard to how your music sounds is really good and far more than what any other music oriented device offers in the market today. The speakers are loud and I mean really loud, the supplied handsfree is also very nice, but when connected to a high end full cup headphones, the quality of output jumps several notches. Full marks for music to the Omnia HD, it’s not as ‘loud’ as the N82 but is certainly much more clearer and refined. I wonder how this would have translated onto a proper home theater if the HD had an FM transmitter.
Now we know that Samsung has DivX and Xvid support out of the box, this support meant that I had a PMP and a phone built into the same device. This is where the Omnia HD beats every other Nokia touchscreen phone. The large AMOLED screen coupled with DivX support gives a superior viewing experience, one that I have never witnessed in other touchscreen phones. When it comes to entertainment Samsung seems to have a much better package than a certain company based in Espoo. Oh and the Omnia HD is extremely capable of playing the files uncompressed and is also capable of full HD playback if I am not wrong.
I would rate the software a high 7/10, capable of much a higher points, let down only due to a half finished UI.
After such an exhaustive overview of the software, I’ll be brief about the accessories that come with the Omnia HD.
The Samsung Omnia HD ships with a Micro USB charger, a data cable, a 3.5mm audio plug earphone (handsfree), a TV out cable and manuals and PC suite CD. What I liked about the last bit was that everything was packaged in small things, a mini CD instead of a regular CD, smaller handheld size manual instead of a booklet. Everything else was the same but the finishing was good and the cables did have smaller rubber enclosures at the ends, meaning that it wasn’t thick. This made them look really good. The handsfree that came with the Omnia HD was also very good. The earphones are of the kind that kill any outside noise, delivering a superior audio experience in a compact package. The output was good and it did not disappoint when listening to songs with the Dolby switch on!
I would give the Omnia HD a healthy 8/10 in this department.