Hands-On with the Samsung SGH-i780 - CES 2008

The Samsung i780 has all the right pieces to be a full-on Treo Killer: Windows Mobile 6, flush 320x320 touchscreen, front-facing QWERTY (a must-have for Treo lovers), WiFi (b/g), 400Mhx proc, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, A-GPS, a 2mp camera, HSDPA, and a little mouse.

Yet Treo-Killer it is not. As we're fond of telling people, you can't just throw Windows Mobile software and sweet hardware at a device and assume it will come out right. You have to think about the integration of the two - how well they work together and what your various buttons and interfaces do with Windows Mobile.

After the break, a gallery and the deets on why the i780 won't be taking the front-facing QWERTY/Touchscreen crown in its current iteration.

The i780 is European-only, no 3G support in the US. That makes it a non-Treo-Killer since the Treo's homebase is here. No matter, though, the US is actually a relatively small market for a company like Samsung so I can't be mad at them about that.

What I can and are mad at them about is the “Optical Joystick/Finger Mouse.” It's a nice enough idea, but it works ...poorly. Let's set aside the fact that using a mouse on a touchscreen is sort of a silly idea in the first place, that it really doesn't add that much one-handability. So what do I have then? I have a tiny little square where the 5-way usually is (more on that in a second). I suspect you could adjust the settings, but I found you had to keep pushing and sliding the mouse around to get where you wanted to go.

So no big deal, right? Like when I discovered that the scroll wheel on the T-Mobile Shadow up to snuff, I figured I could just revert to the old 5-way to get around. Wrong. The SGH-i780 lacks a 5-way. It's touchscreen, mouse, or nothing at all. Not the way I want to interact with a mobile device. Not the way you do, either.

Ok, so saying there is no 5-way is a bit of a lie. You can switch from “Mouse mode” to “D-Pad” mode to get that little touchpad to revert to a 5-way. So to go down you slide your finger down on the pad. To go down again - move your thumb up and then slide down again. And so on.

So, the SGH-i780? Feature-packed, implementation challenged.

Gallery below, in case you haven't been scared away yet. Actually, take a look, that flush 320x320 screen is gorgeous

WC Staff