Review: Samsung Epix
The Epix is a monoblock phone with full QWERTY keyboard. Stylistically, it offers nothing new. The slate gray coloration says, "I am boring," loud and clear. But function over form is often what some people are looking for.
In terms of size, the Epix is about the same height and width as the BlackJack, though it is a smidge heavier. It feels big in your hand. I don't know if that's a function of the width and shape, but the perception is what matters.All the surfaces are smooth plastics and nothing sticks out or feels weird or pokes your hand. It is well balanced, and doesn't feel top heavy when held in two hands for typing.
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The front has a large touch screen. Below that is the navigation cluster. One of the Epix's most notable features is the optical mouse. Rather than a D-pad, the optical mouse serves as the user's way to navigate the screen. An optical mouse works by using a sensor to take successive pictures of the surface on which the mouse operates. This lets the mouse detect motion and translates the movement of the mouse into the movement of the pointer on the screen. I like the optical mouse a lot, but it has a few limitations. It is sensitive enough and moves the mouse around well. What I didn't like is that you don't get enough travel out of the mouse each time you swipe your finger across it. The result is that you're cycling your thumb over the mouse again and again and again to get the mouse to move all the way across the phone's screen. Of course, the Epix has a touch screen, so you can just reach your thumb up and tap the screen to select what you want.
The mouse has a handful of buttons on either side. To the left is a soft key, send key and the Windows button. On the right is that OK/back key, the end key and the other soft key. All six of these buttons have nearly perfect travel and feedback. They produce a very satisfying click, and they are easy to find with your thumb.
The QWERTY keyboard reminded me very much of the keyboard on the Treo 650. The keys are a bit on the nubby (and tiny) side, but they have good travel and feedback. I was able to adjust to it faster than some other keyboards I've tested of late. A lot of this has to do with the narrow width of the device. It is much improved over the keyboard of the BlackJackk II, for example, because the height of the keyboard itself is taller. This means there's more room and the keys feel less squished. It isn't the best keyboard we've ever used, but it is certainyl better than many of its competitors.
On the left side of the Epix is the power/unlock key and the volume toggle. Considering how often you'll be using the power/unlock key, I wish it were a little bit bigger and not so hard to find. Travel and feedback weregood , though. The volume toggle feels great. It is easy to find and travel and feedback are good. On the right side of the phone are two hatches covering the microSD and charging/data ports. They both peel back easily.
The camera is on the back of the phone. Because of the way the phone is designed, there's pretty much no risk of smudging the lens. The back hatch covering the battery comes off with no problems. The stylus is found in the upper left corner of the Epix. It collapses into the phone's body, but I found it a little hard to pull out.