First Looks: Samsung Omnia Pro B7610

Finding the Right Balance

Finding the Right Balance

The Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 represents the Korean chaebol's aim to incorporate both work and play into a powerful device. Our experience with it says otherwise.

Text Frenzy

The B7610's thicker dimension is the result of a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which at first sight spells good news for messaging junkies. The typing experience however was not - keys were stiff and lacked the tactile feedback that is a necessity on such keyboards. Our large palm size was able to accommodate the B7610's weight and girth, but we can't say the same for smaller hands.

The front-facing 3.8-inch AMOLED WVGA screen is a sight for sore eyes, especially so for video viewing and web surfing. It's also easy on the fingers for basic interaction, and makes perfect sense for the finger-friendly TouchWiz user interface (UI) which manages to integrate seamlessly into Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional.

Having an 800MHz processor within does help when it comes to the interface speed, and the unit didn't turn sluggish on us. That is, until we loaded it with multiple applications in the background and having the web browser active, which left the unit stuttering.

It Takes Two

Situated at the left of the screen is a Work-Life button that switches the B7610 between two modes. As its name implies, one's specifically for work purposes, with emails and calendar taking center stage. But these are essentially shortcuts, which leads you to a slightly modified interface for messaging and calendar. One of our biggest grouse with the Samsung-designed interface is contacts selection. In short, we had to go through multiple layers of selection before we can do a search and select the desired contacts.

Life mode presents you with the TouchWiz UI to populate widgets such as calendar, music player, and many others on the home screen. But we haven't exactly seen anything new on the horizon for the Samsung widgets.

The inclusion of a 3.5mm audio port at the top reinforces the B7610's identity as a smartphone capable of work and play simultaneously. Giving it a slight edge is the bundled DivX playback capability on its media player, but with a little effort, you'll be able to find alternatives with better format support.

The battery performance is impressive, clocking in at almost two days of usage with data downloads, calls, messages and audio playback thrown into the mix. If it's more juice you need, you can even head into Settings and adjust the CPU speed to a lower frequency to prolong the battery life.

Final Thoughts

In the end, we felt that the B7610 has more potential as an entertainment device rather than a productivity workhorse. The competitive S$898 retail pricing (without contract) is business as usual for Samsung devices. But before you do bite onto this bait, be sure that you're willing to sacrifice some portability, in return for heavy duty action with the Samsung Omnia Pro B7610.

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