Omnia HD. MID, Smartphone and The End Of The Tweener.

Posted on 04 May 2009 by

The Omnia HD is something that all MID fans should be taking a close look at. It highlights how close the ARM-based platforms are to Intel’s MID platforms. In fact, in many ways, the Omnia HD looks like one of the best MIDs so far with longer battery life, smaller form factor, 720p video recording and a mobile-focused software suite that addresses new mobile markets. It’s an incredibly converged product but at the same time, you could call it a tweener. Neither a 24/7 phone or high quality mobile internet device.  I intend to re-visit the Omnia HD by testing it in full in the near future but in the meantime, take a look at the specifications when placed side-by-side with the most popular tablet MID of the day and lets think about how the Omnia HD highlights that there is no such thing as a tweener.

S5D samsung-omnia-hd-3
Omnia Image via AreaMobile.

Viliv S5. (Estimated 800 Euros with 3G) Omnia HD 600 Euros Comments
CPU Intel Atom 1.3Ghz (Menlow platform) ARM (Cortex A8) 800Mhz (OMAP platform) Atom estimated 2x processing power.
Wifi BT 3G (data only) Wifi BT 3G (voice and data, HSUPA) Voice convergence is important for some. HSUPA important for Europe.
1024×600 4.8” screen (250dpi) LED, resistive touch. 640×360 3.7” screen (approx 180dpi) O-LED, capacative touch, O-LED will give outdoor readability issues. 640×360 restrictive for web browsing.
GPS (no software) GPS plus Navteq maps and social networking. GPS software for XP is expensive.
5hrs online Est, 3hrs online (based on hsdpa talk-time) For online use, the Viliv wins but the Omnia is more efficient.
10hrs standby (on, screen of) 600hrs standby (on, screen off) Always-on is important for comms!
Windows XP plus touch UI Symbian S60  plus mobile software suite (TouchWiz) S60 is mobile-focused (some exciting next-gen social and LBS apps available) but no desktop app compatability.
No cam 8mp cam with 720p recording 720p recording is a huge bonus for the consumer.
400gm 125 gm 1/3rd the weight means you can carry an extra two batteries
Video playback – 720p flexible support, 6hrs Video playback – 720p, 4.5hrs Similar video capability. XP comes with only WMV support out of box.
Storage 60GB Storage 16GB + Micro SD Big storage on the Viliv compared to Omnia.
Browsing: Desktop quality, sub 10-second average, full flash and plugins Browsing: Limited quality. Estimated 20s page load time. Omnia browsing will fall way short of a desktop experience.
3D graphics: Power VR SGX 3G Graphics: Power VR  SGX Snap!
Accelerometer Good for navi, web, ereading
FM Radio A useful, very low power information source. (Local Traffic, news, music, events)
Component, S-video out, VGA HDMI Out Digital output on Omnia turns it into a better set top box.
Best USB device support Limited USB device support If you have USB devices, they are likely to work better with the Viliv S5
Full desktop software capability Mobile-focused software capability Viliv S5 allows you to carry on using your desktop software. Desktop software is, however, expensive.
Availability: Limited roll-out Availability: Global Omnia HD will be widely available
Brand unknown outside Korea Top-tier global branding. Provides consumer confidence.

Clearly the Samsung Omnia HD has specifications that are very close to one of the best Intel-based MIDs on the market. You’re looking at an extremely capable hardware platform that provides consumer-focused MID, PMP, PVR and PND-like capabilities in a 24/7 voice-capable form factor.  It’s also got mature, consumer-friendly mobile-focused software that tackles new mobile usage scnearios and it’s reached the market before anyone else could with Intel-based MIDs that are targeted at the same usage scenarios.  For some it’s going to be seen as the ultimate converged device and one of the best ‘MIDs’ on the market.

Look at it from another angle though and you see a different story.  If you want a 24/7 phone,  the Omnia HD is very very expensive and for most people, too big.  If you’re looking for the best quality mobile web browser, PND, PMP or microblogging device, it falls short on either screen size, keyboard or software. As with most converged devices, it takes new, exciting usage scenarios and lever’s them into compromised form factors.

What I see with the Samsung Omnia HD is a device that underscores exactly the emerging  scenarios that MIDs are targeted at. It’s providing a taster of things to come.  If these scenarios develop, the new ecosystems created could support dedicated devices that fit in the space between the smartphone and the netbook. With technology like the Texas Instruments OMAP 3 platform and Intel’s Moorestown available to OEMs, it will only be a matter of tweaking the design, the software and applying the right marketing to slot the variants into the new ecosystems.

How about dropping the Omni HD’s internals into a Nokia N810-like form factor and increasing the screen to 4.8” with 250 DPI to improve the focus on mobile geo-enabled social networking? How about adding a powerful photo flash and video editing software to enhance mobile photo capabilities and add how about adding a daylight-readable 6″ screen for a move into the ebook market? Think about an iPod Plus, a Kindle with a fast browser and think about the next Nokia Tablet. A Techcrunch Crunchpad or  a Google Lattitude Social  Tablet.  A Canon/YouTube device  or even a dedicated Vodafone/BBC iPlayer.  I don’t propose that all of these are winning business opportunities but I bet there are a few opportunitues in that list for dedicated devices that people have called ‘tweeners’ in the past.

The real story here is three-fold. The Omnia HD highlights how advanced and flexible the latest smartphone platforms are.  It highlights that new usage models are emerging and that if these ecosystems grow, there will be opportunities for dedicated devices. Thank-you Samsung for highlighting that the MID concept is on the right track and that the end of the Tweener-era is nigh.

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  • Samsung Omnia HD and the end of the Tweener: http://cli.gs/rSysag

  • Hail_Acme

    i have been really interested in this device (phone is really not the right word)its actually 144gm it also has radio transmitter and compass and something i found out not long ago you can record music directly from the radio samsung are just pushing this one outside of the envelope the device is just in a class by itself some more info on it ;) http://samsung.hdblog.it/ http://www.youtube.com/user/kotikv http://www.phonearena.com/htmls/Samsung-OMNIA-HD-i8910-Review-review-r_2148.html

    • A compass too. Excelent!

    • EC

      Great recoding from FM as sometimes there are events where they broadcast the sound over to an FM frequency and recoding it like that is so much nicer.

      I personally feel Apple has avoided offering this on purpose, as it would in a way compete with music sales on iTunes :)

  • ranjix

    was thinking the same thing. with a screen somewhere between 5-6″ (so one could read an ebook as well), 16GB SSD or 30GB HDD, a full OS (win/linux), 6-8h battery on full usage (youtube or something), a device like omnia could be a hit. unfortunately it looks more like a phone that could be (if one is inclined to) a media device. IMO they miss it though, I don’t want to bulge my eyes into a 3.7″ screen to watch a movie or to find my place on a map with the phone on the dashboard. so what’s samsung doing? running after apple with a tad better specs? bad idea. viliv – which covers pretty well the above reqs – should be the perfect example of a desirable device…

    • Kola

      Yep, I agreed with you, but with ARM CPU and OLED screen thing like S5 could be much more energy efficient(in terms of battery life).

  • Sokonomi

    640×360 3.7”, thats still REALLY pathetic to be honest.. I mean comon.. I guess that 200 dollar price difference had to come from somewhere. Frankly im not all that impressed. ;)

  • LeeN

    Nice comparison of what is basically all hardware features, with a blurb about software. And all the usage scenarios based on those hardware features.

    How about thinking about usage scenarios that are not based upon the hardware of the device but upon what you would like a small device in you pocket to do?

    I think the biggest hurdle for the smart phones is not the hardware and not directly the software but with the service providers and the app stores. For example, T-Mobile preventing G1 from having a tethering app, and the many examples of apple preventing some apps on what ever basis they want (the last big deal that was made was about the twitter app). Even the fact that you have to hack an iphone to use it with a different carrier besides AT&T. A lot of what their decisions are based upon is them trying to monopolize. To do that they will limit what the devices can do.

    That is something harder to do with WindowsXP/Linux and a Data only connection.

  • Vakeros

    A few points,
    One you can already get a bigger 3.8″ screen which is 800×480 on a phone.
    Two this phone has an 800MHz CPU, the same as the old Intel Stealey. It should be as quick at loading websites as the old Stealey was.
    Two b. Toshibas TG01 will have a 1GHz CPU so getting closer still and a 4.1″ screen.
    Three Many of the new devices coming out this year (by HTC in particular) use WinMo6.1 and 6.5. This allows editing of Office 2007 documents.
    Four the HTC Thoth is slated to be the successor of the HTC Athena and due out in Q4 this year. This will have a 4.8″ screen and 1 GHz CPU. There is also rumoured to be one with an nVidia Tegra chip coming out.
    I am personally a two device man. One in my left pocket, the other in my right.
    One is my phone – but a PocketPC phone. The other I want to have is an updated Psion. Umid M1 comes close and if I can use an adapter for from USB to LAN it might be what I get.

    • fab

      basically i agree with you, although i think Steve focussed on these two devices. of course there are alternatives to the omnia, but there would be as well to the viliv – not so many yet.

    • EC

      Once again let’s not confuse pocketable mobile devices to be used on the go (like the ones compared above) with portable devices intended not to be held in your hand while being typed on :)

      Two very different scenarios like someone recently pointed out :)

      • Vakeros

        Agree with you below, but disagree with you here.
        Both devices are pocketable. They are both mobile – as you state below it is the usage that counts.
        You can have devices which you can use one handed and two handed and on a desktop. The Shift being an example of this. It wasn’t pocketable, but the form factor could be shrunk down – oh wait a minute HTC have that in the new TouchPro2!
        Still to be seen if the keyboard is good enough for typing on. If it is then that is my phone/PDA/MID/PMP/Camera sorted. Oh and I can check e-mails and copy all documents onto it for when I want to edit them.

        • EC

          But again HTC shift was designed to be used:
          On a table top with touch typing and that’s about.

          Most other HTC devices were designed to be used:
          On the go while walking/standing or even sitting but NOT put on a table top.

          These are two VERY destinctive differences and frankly I doubt we will EVER see a solution where the HW is designed so that it is ideal for both, it will be based on ONE of those usages and perhaps be “ok” or “useable” in the other but great for neither, which I guess the UMID is showing already. Yet personally I still prefer the clamshell type of design while I prefer thumb boarding. Keyword *prefer* :)

        • EC

          The personal preference of thumb boarding or touch typing I feel is not the MAIN thing here, but the intended usage is, since like I’ve no pointed out as a broken record :) the two have very little in common from WHERE & HOW they were designed to be used.

          HTC Shift has to be ON something while typing (despite it’s WM OS option)
          http://api.ning.com/files/a75HNT9IuYcJqYaa0uiOHWXtimy6BGO5HggkeBA7*BuW2IYeIrlUOdLGr5XAgmEXwmnB*NnlWQidCTwW5K8uRl2yK4i7TQrT/shiftkeyboard.jpg

          Whereas the OQO thumb board setup you can be ANYWHERE without ANY table:
          http://textforfree.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/oqo_model_2.jpg

        • EC

          HTC shift link from above too long here it tinyurl version:
          http://tinyurl.com/cu72ry

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  • fab

    …forgot a very important spec: the omnia is a phone! the viliv not. and maybe the price too. but somebody who wants a phone won’t even consider the viliv. as a mid, the viliv, as a phone with great media capabilities, the omnia

    • EC

      I believe one shouldn’t focus so much on defining a product as MID, UMPC, Phone, Netbook etc etc.

      Yes there are very destinctive differences betweenbthese categories, however in reality just as on our desktops/laptops most of us choose OS be it Windows, Linux, OS X etc and HW preferances, they all share though where and for what we use them (in a broader picture).

      Similarly we need to focus on these devices from the aspect of:

      1. Where & How is the device designed to be used? On the go anywhere & everywhere or while sitting at a table or the alike.

      My point with all this as the “mobileer” I am is to focus on usage of the devices rather than what category it’s HW or/and it’s OS falls into.

      2. What is the device intended to be used for.

      3. As we live in a world of comprises, what compromises are we ready to accept in exchange for other benefits. For instance battery time/instant&constant on in exchange for OS’ with some limitations.

      • Vakeros

        Agree with you here!
        The key ios what is it used for. This is why the comparison is valid. Everything the Viliv can do, the Omnia HD can plus a bit more. It also costs less and can be had on a contract which if you are going to spend anyway then it is perfect. This is why though I like the Viliv, it doesn’t quite meet what I need it to do and won’t be buying it.

        • EC

          Oh yes THIS comparison in this article is VERY VALID, my comment was in reply to other comments! So I completely agree that one can compare across platforms if the intended usage ends up being VERY close, as is the case here.

  • JoMo

    You should compare the Nokia N97. I think it would even make it harder to go with a MID. However, one thing everyone forgets about is the daily operating cost of services; that might tip the decision scales also.

    • Again, another device (albeit with an old CPU platform) that highlights the importance of photography, social networking, video and GPS-enabled usage scenarios. As these applications grow in importance, so a better business case for higher-end MIDs will form and investment can go into some great pro-level devices in the 4-6″ screen range and that’s something I think we’d all like to see happen.

  • Tozy

    you really should stop saying DPI, that only concerns internal Windows font management & printer resolution. you should start saying PPI (pixels per inch) because that is the correct term under these conditions. anybody in the media field cringes when they see mainstream misinterpretation of these terms.

  • squirrel

    Chippy, company of what type will be the first (to understand its profitability and) to make the intermediate device (like Viliv, but less than 300 gm, ARM Cortex, 4,8″ screen, OLED display) – will it be smartphone manufacturer (like Nokia) or unknown computer devices manufacturer (like Viliv) or well-known – like Asus or the universal company like Samsung?

    • If we assume that hardware is pretty much there now (Intel needs to get more efficient, ARM to get a little more powerful but they’re both playing in the same ballpark) then we’re left with software (which leans towards ARM and smartphone ecosystem) and investment/marketing/risk taking which leans towards big players that understand the customer base in the mobile segment. I have always believed that ARM-based devices would be the first into the segment with a real consumer focused MID solution (not UMPC) but with Intel following closely behind. Intel Moblin 2 for Moorestown in the 2010 timeframe is when they’re ready. ARM partners are probably in a better position for 2009 though.
      At the end of the day, I think ARM and Intel will play head-to head in hardware and that it will be about software, investment in the ecosystem (partners, developers, designers) and marketing budget. That is, of course, so long as i’m right and there really is a market out there for internet-connected PMPS, Web devices, PNDs, Ereaders etc.

      • squirrel

        Thank you for a detailed answer!

        one moment about the hardware – OLED screens. Maybe that’s all is fantasy, but theoretically)) they can be foldered and that allows to make smartphones with MID-size screens. And smartphone manufacturers can go that way, keeping the weight of the product below 150gm. That will limit their power, batt life etc. And full MID’s with weight 250gm or more won’t be interesting for them. And MID with foldered netbook-sized OLED screen will be too expensive.

        • Yes but even OLED screens can take a lot of power (when using white/bright colors) so battery management is a problem.
          Also, the frame for the fold would have to be extremely well engineered.
          I think this WILL happen but if will take a few years and still be expensive limiting them to business users.

  • Charbax

    Although the OLED screen is nice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtJAFsBoS08

    The Samsung Omnia HD will suck cause it’s Symbian, it plays HD videos but only on a 640×360 screen (4x downscaling is probably easier than real HDMI HD video output), there are no infos for actual HD video codecs supported, thus probably crappy bitrates and codecs supported in HD resolution. And 3.7″ is smaller than 4.8″ which definitely can fit in a pocket. Also the storage sucks.

    Archos will come with an Android device probably much cheaper than quoted prices (which I don’t think the Samsung actuall costs either), that fixes all of these problems and adds tons of things that matter.

    • EC

      I am no big Symbian fan but not sure why you say it “suck cause it’s Symbian”?

      I find it a bit ironic that you see NOKIA in the background a good portion of the video :) with it being Symbian and all (yes yes Symbian is not directly Nokia related but still one of the biggest users of Symbian).

      • Charbax

        It’s about unleaching mobile devices potential for the first time for real. Only a linux OS can do that and Android is by far the best attempt at building the ultimate embedded Linux OS to make all the necessary powerful applications work even on very cheap hardware.

        • UMPCman

          Oh, seriously, what are the chances that Archos will get Android right first time out. They can’t even get their 6th generation device right. Zero. Don’t believe me? Go to Charbax’s Archosfans forums, and see all the love.

        • Charbax

          Archos 6th Generation is by far the best Internet Media Tablet, PMP, MID, smart device, whatever you want to call it. The Archos 5 60GB can be gotten for 250€ on preissuchmachine.de or for $299 on froogle.com. By far you won’t find such 800×480 4.8″ bright glossy touchscreen device, so compact, with such fastest ARM processor ever released, 6 months out, still the only commercial product with the latest generation ARM superscalar ARM Cortex technology which loads certain websites faster even than Intel Atom products. The only pocketable device that outputs 720p DivX and WMV to your HDTV with HDMI, the only pocketable device with pocketable DVB-T tuners, full EPG for Tivo like recording, Ogg, Flac and all major codecs supported, up to 7 hours of battery life for video playback, full Youtube type full screen Flash 9 video support, full AJAX support, and I could go on.

          UMPCman is a UMPC fanboy obviously. I guess he doesn’t like the idea that a small french company like Archos can come in and prove to the world that the future of ultra mobile is ARM and embedded Linux based and not based on Microsoft and Intel.

  • AEK

    Well Charbax is the ultimate fanboy and unless it has Archos in the name he will say it sucks. Claiming Archos will solve all the problems is just laughable as they can’t even get their products working properly. Saying the storage sucks is just ignorant since the Omnia is a smartphone not a MID. Actually 16GB is quite decent.

    • Charbax

      The Samsung Omnia HD is bloatware, althjough it’s screen is very nice, it’s screen size and resolution is not for HD contents.

      So basically Samsung Omnia HD has a pretty meaningless HD support, well unless it supports HD at least like Archos and better meaning mkv 4GB+ h264 720p, which I doubt.

      What’s the point in having a device named HD if you can’t have enough storage to store HD video files on it.

      It’s basically like the HTC Touch HD, or Diamond HD whatever they are called. Engineered to be glimmering pieces of hardware to suck higher fees out of a new bunch of 2-year subscriptions that will be signed by lame rich people who can afford it.

      • UMPCman

        Sure, as opposed to the Archos device, designed to suck money out of people for a device that falls apart after 3 months of use, is not supported by the manufacturer, does not fulfill promises about software, and ends software development and firmware upgrades within less than a year of product release.

        • AEK

          Charbax is blind to any device except Archos so his opinions are worthless. Reading his fanboy site will quickly fill you in to his agenda.

        • Charbax

          Appart from the USB HSDPA support, the Archos 5 is fulfilling all promises there were on software.

          Android will fix that demand for third party applications and should also add such things as telephony and some other smartphone-oriented hardware features like I think Bluetooth, a built in GPS and an electronic compass and tilt measurer.

          My http://forum.archosfans.com is mostly used by the % of users who have problems, but if you check the polls, most users like their Archos 5
          Yes 59%
          No 29%
          Undecided 11%
          And most people like their 605 as well:
          Yes 70%
          No 16%
          Undecided 13%
          With 3 times as many votes on the 605 WiFi since it was released a year earlier. Also consider again, people that are satisfied with their Archos are less likely to spend time on the “Archos support” internet forums, thus less likely to vote there.

      • Omnia HD’s achilles heal is the OLED screen. Not useable outside so hardly the highlight of the device.

        Omnia HD uses omap 3 which is the same as the Archos right? Therefore, 720p, should be fine.

        As for OS, have you tried this version of Symbian on this hardware platform yet?

        • Charbax

          OLED is especially supposed to be much better than LCD for outside use. Unless you use the 3Qi Pixel Qi technology for LCD screens or one of these other refracting LCD screen technologies, but they are then much less glimmering than standard LCD screens when used indoors.

          I tried this Symbian on the Omnia HD at CeBIT, I thought it extremely sucked. It’s just like the Nokia N97, pure suckage.

    • Beck

      Agree with you , MAN !

  • David

    As far as I’m concerned a MID is a mobile internet device. The Samsing is a phone. A very powerful phone, but it’s promary function is phone. Therefore it cannot be a MID.

    The primary function of the MID, I believe is internet access/web browsing and the Omnia does not do this to the degree that I believe is needed for it to be considered as a primarily internet access device. For that I believe the screen resolution has to be at least 800×480 and 4 inches diagonally.

    Does any one remember what the original definition of a MID is?

    • EC

      Once again the attention is put on terms, rather than functions.

      Please try to focus on what a device can do rather than by force trying to fit it into a category.

      David, may I ask you what kind of computing are you looking to do while you are on the go?

  • Sokonomi

    I dont grasp why anyone would even bother comparing these two. The screen on the omnia is nothing more then a means to show off the allmighty OLED wich is really too young to be considdered for any HD multimedia device. The resolution on the omnia is simply appauling. My 7 year old PDA is pretymuch beating the omnia when it comes to multimedia capabilities.

    Like stated above, the omnia is just a phone. Anything else is just extra.
    The Viliv is an advanced multimedia device that offers a desktop enviorement if you so choose.

    • Just to make it a bit clearer for people, the core of the article is to highlight how close the smartphpone PLATFORMS are to the Intel MID platforms and that they are only a re-design away from devices we see in the MID category.

      Having said that, people looking at an Archos or Viliv for media capabilities will definately want to look more closely at the Omnia HD as a converged solution, even if it isn’t a classic (whatever that is!) MID.

      Steve

      • Sokonomi

        A device with that kind of resolution, good for multimedia.. really?
        You cant honestly browse the internet with that, I cant even imagine how youd even give websites input on a screen that small, and HD video is utterly futile unless you have a TV nearby to plug it in.

        Sure, devices like this have thier own perks, but Id say things like the omnia are miles away from a classic MID.

        • EC

          You know it’s actually NOT only about resolution. When the iPhone came out with it’s HVGA 480×320 I was seriously criticizing it for that
          http://www.iphonefaq.org/forum/iphone-screen-resolution-t36.0.html but frankly the iPhone does just well with multimedia and online browsing, not even among critics is the iPhone/iPod touch resolution criticized much after it came out, since Apple did somehow really make it work very nicely with such low resolution.

          640×360 isn’t too bad and 3.7″ is among the larger ones for a device like this, in fact I believe it’s the largest touch display phone out there. I’m sure OLED will do it’s part also in making the experience only a pleasant one.

          Here compared to other similar devices:
          http://www.phonearena.com/htmls/Samsung-OMNIA-HD-i8910-Review-review-r_2148.html

        • There are many many people out there that would take a single device and a hit in quality just to have it with them all the time. Only 1 year ago I was recording BBC on a Mythtv at 320×240, 700kbps so that it worked on all my devices.

  • Velik Vanderstrife

    “Power VR SGX”

    This probably doesnt mean much to other ppl, but Im a game developer, and I saw this and nearly passed out. If this thing actually support hardware & dx 10.1, I can actually develop on it when i have downtime away from my main dev pc. I read the specs about it here [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerVR#Series5_.28SGX.29]. Im talking about the viliv devices of course. Still waiting on detail / release date for the S7 :(

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