Samsung Omnia HD - First Look

Samsung launched the Omnia HD phone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona promising to take movies on the go high-def, but can the phone deliver? We got watching to find out.

Sporting a 3.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen there is no getting around the fact that this is the reason you'll buy this phone. Okay so there are lots of features that might be good for you and we'll cover those in a bit, but let's talk about that screen a little more first.

Bright and crisp, it's certainly one of the best screens we've seen on a mobile phone to date. It makes the BlackBerry Storm's screen, which we at Pocket-lint think is very good, decidedly dull. There are two reasons why it's likely to allow you to use it to flash bang your way out of a difficult situation. The first is that the resolution is an impressive 640 pixels by 360 pixels; quarter HD (QHD).

Now combine that with the second reason, viewing angle, and you've got a phone screen that is not only detailed in what it displays on screen but can be seen from all angles. In fact that viewing angle is so good in could cause you privacy issues if you are looking at sensitive data on the phone. No more porn on the train kind of thing.

But it's not just the screen that looks to impress with the high-def love. Trying to maximise that screen is the video playback options. DivX support is just one of the buzzwords to use here. 720p is another, and the phone is capable of playing back 1280 x 720 resolution images. Not that helpful when you can't actually get that resolution on screen, but what is helpful is that through a DNLA wireless connection you can stream 720p content via your phone to any other DNLA enabled device like that brand new Samsung TV the company is hoping you've bought. The move means that the Omnia HD is theoretically a movie jukebox as well as a phone.

The final piece of the high-def experience is the addition of an 8-megapixel camera on the back. Using the same sensor and software features as found on the company's i8510 handset launched in 2008, the camera will now also shoot 720p footage to go up against the Kodak Zi6, Creative Vado HD and Flip HD digital camcorders. The news is likely to spell the beginning of the end for the burgeoning new market. We weren't able to see the outputted content in our First Look, however on the show stand and in an off show booth, the camera was responsive to use. Trying to break away from "it's just a cameraphone", Samsung has, as it did with the i8510, included smile and blink detection. Unfortunately we could find anyone that happy to snap a picture of to give it a good run for its money.

All this HD capture, record and watch content is great, but not if you haven't got anywhere to store it. Samsung believe the answer comes in two ways - first via the option of built-in memory and second via a microSD card slot. Although not willing to confirm which version(s) will be coming to the UK, the Omnia HD will be available in 8GB or 16GB models with the option to add up to 32GB of storage via the microSD slot.

Once you get past the screen and those HD elements the phone is Samsung playing it safe with the usual tech specs you would expect to see. That screen is of course touch-enabled and there are three further buttons to manage below.

Running Symbian's S60 5th edition operating system, Nokia fans will feel right at home and the Widget feature, featuring a new online ability is certainly a plus if you like that kind of thing. Think Vista widgets or Dashboard if you're a Mac fan and you get the picture. There are three widget screens to clutter and you can ditch all of them if that's not your bag.

HSDPA, Wi-Fi, AGPS and Bluetooth are of course all present.

Verdict

The Omnia HD looks to be an impressive handset if you're a movie buff looking to satisfy your viewing habits on the go.

The catch? Well it's a pretty big handset, the screen is larger than the iPhone and it's bulkier all round as it does its best to cram all that technology, and there is a lot of it present, into the metal case.

There are also concerns over battery life - something we weren't able to test at the stand - but I bet it's not going to be a phone that allows you to do all the above without needing a power socket often.

The Samsung Omnia HD is due out later in the year.



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