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Samsung Epix (AT&T)


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AT&T’s Samsung Epix could easily be called the BlackJack III: It has a similar design to both the BlackJack and BlackJack II, but adds a few new features, including Wi-Fi, and its Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional operating system takes advantage of the device’s touchscreen. We also like the new built-in optical mouse and faster 624-MHz processor. The Epix is certainly a step up from the BlackJack II but, at $199, it also costs $50 more than the BlackJack II did when it first hit store shelves. Is it worth the price?


We like the smoke gray coloring of the Samsung Epix, although we still think the original black of the BlackJack looked sharper. At 4.6 x 2.4 x 0.5 inches, the Epix has a slightly larger footprint than its predecessor. It’s also 0.3 ounces heavier, likely due to the higher capacity 1800mAh battery and integrated touchscreen. In our hands, the device felt a bit bulky but solid. It’s taller than the BlackBerry Bold but not as wide.

Below the screen are silver keys that include Menu, Send, and End, and two soft keys. The volume keys are high on the left side, making one-handed volume adjustment difficult. With the Epix, the controls have been moved down to the middle of the device, which we appreciate.

The right side of the unit has a microSD slot; the Epix supports SDA 2.0, which means that microSD Cards up to 32GB in capacity will be supported as they become available. Also on the right side of the Epix is a shared headphone/charging proprietary jack. We would prefer a 3.5mm headphone jack, which would accommodate any standard earphones, but at least Samsung includes an adapter. There’s a 2-MP camera on the back of the unit, but it doesn’t have a flash.




Display and Optical Mouse

The 2.5-inch, 320 x 320-pixel touchscreen display can be operated via touch or with the included stylus, which fits snugly in the top left corner of the phone. While we appreciated the vibrating haptic feedback, we enjoyed much better accuracy with the stylus. A capacitive display this is not.

Because this is a touchscreen device, you won’t find a Back key for backing out of menus or selections. There’s a soft key on the touchscreen for this purpose, which takes some getting used to.

The jog wheel has been replaced by an optical mouse, similar to that of the Samsung Omnia, which let us easily control a cursor on the display by moving our finger on it as if it were a small touchpad. The optical mouse feature can be turned off, and the pad can be used as a multi-directional controller, which some may prefer when scrolling Web pages.


The full QWERTY keypad remains relatively the same as on the BlackJack II: small with somewhat stiff keys, but we appreciated its good tactile feedback and that the numbers were still close together for quick dialing. Within a day, we were typing at the same pace as we do on our BlackBerry Curve.

User Interface and Performance

Running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, the Epix reminds us of the unlocked Palm Treo Pro, which has similar features. The touchscreen’s haptic feedback gave a gentle buzz each time it registered an on-screen selection. Navigating the standard Windows Mobile home screen was easy; you can customize it to display your calendar, e-mail, and more.

We noticed during our testing that Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional didn’t hang while we had other applications open; this is likely due to the significantly faster processor on the Epix (running at 624 MHz, a significant improvement over the 260 MHz on the BlackJack II), and the 256MB of included ROM and 128MB of RAM.

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