Review: Samsung Epix - A BlackJack Replacement

The Samsung Epix is a slick, handsome smartphone that offers some improvements over the older Blackjack models it replaces. This should position the Windows Mobile-run Epix well to compete with other new and similar smartphone. It should especially appeal to heavy multimedia users, as the 2.5-inch, 320 x 320 pixel resolution display is larger than those found on many other tablet-style handsets with QWERTY thumb keyboards..

Your index finger will be the judge of one of the Epix's most innovative features. A small black square in the center of the control area serves as the touch pad for an optical mouse. Run your finger over the pad and watch an arrow cruise around your screen, just the way the mouse controls the cursor on your laptop.

Point the mouse to a scroll bar and press and drag your finger to move up or down. Tap the pad to "click" the option you've placed the mouse over. The Epix is a touch-screen device, but the optical mouse makes the stylus much less important. Unfortunately, if you do want to actually touch the screen, we found the stylus is critical as the display doesn't respond as well to the human finger input as with the new breed of touch screen smartphones, such as the HTC Touch series and the iPhone.

If the mouse doesn't work for you, you can turn it off and use the touch pad as a four-way navigator instead. In this setting, slide your finger left, right, up or down to get where you want to be and tap the pad to click. No mouse icon is on the screen to show you where you are.

The full QWERTY keyboard feels cramped and the keys are, in fact, slightly smaller than the Blackjack's keys. They are also a little smaller than those on a Moto Q or a Blackberry. Some quick keys are handy, such as one-touch access to email, internet browsing, the calendar and the camera. There's also a key to put the phone on silent, which is faster than fumbling through menus.

The Epix measures 4.6 x 2.4 x .5 inches and weighs 4.4 ounces, making it just the slightest bit bigger and heavier than the Blackjack. In standby, the battery can go for days. For talk time, the company estimates up to 7 hours, a claim we didn't test.

It's increasingly common and handy for devices like these to come with Wi-Fi. The Epix Wi-Fi radio worked well when it worked, but seemed a little finicky. In zones where we knew free Wi-Fi was available, and where the Epix had recently connected, it sometimes hesitated to see the network. When we went in manually and requested a connection, though, the radio complied and we were good to go.

TAGS:

Samsung, Windows Mobile, AT&T, Samsung Epix, Samsung BlackJack
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