What you might not know about the Samsung Mondi
While an official list of specs can tell you a lot about a device, the best way to truly get a feel for something and understand its nuances is to spend some serious quality time with it. Sure, playing with a display model at a store or checking it out at an event can often be the basis of a purchasing decision, but it's often only after you've taken a device home and used it for a considerable amount of time that you really get to know it.
It's been a few weeks since I unboxed my Samsung Mondi and shared my reasons for buying it, so I've since logged in hours upon hours of use on the Windows Mobile 6.1 slider. I doubt that I will ever know every single thing there is to know about the unit, but I definitely learned some things from my usage so far that aren't mentioned in the published specs, product manuals, or those early misinformed reviews. And if the devil is in the details and you're on the fence about spending $450 on a MID that isn't a phone and offers WiMAX and WiFi connectivity but nothing in between, then you might want to read on.
The following list is arranged in alphabetical order (not order of importance).
Accelerometer. While it's true that the Mondi is equipped with an accelerometer, which is certainly a nice feature, it isn't used as fully as it could be.
At the moment, all it does is auto-rotate the screen 90 degrees to the right in nothing but Opera Mobile and enable the device to be turned over to temporarily mute the sound in Windows Media and ArcSoft Multimedia Player (both preinstalled). There's also a "game" called Dice included on the installation CD that lets you shake the Mondi to roll the dice.
Bluetooth. The Mondi has very limited Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR profile support. So if you're thinking that it doesn't matter that the device doesn't have 3G because you can just tether it to your 3G phone for on-the-go internet access, then you should know that DUN and PAN are a no-go. The Mondi only supports the headset (mono and stereo), hands-free, serial port, and object push Bluetooth profiles.
DNSe 3.0. Documentation on the exact version of Samsung's DNSe (Digital Natural Sound engine) audio enhancement technology being used on the Mondi is lacking, so I got in touch with my Samsung PR contact to find out.
Although the sound quality of the Mondi paired with my Ultimate Ears triple.fi 10 Pro canalphones isn't mind-blowingly spectacular, it turns out that DNSe 3.1.07 is being used. DNSe 3.0 is the newest and best version, so its inclusion is a good thing.
Haptics. The 4.3-inch touchscreen provides haptic feedback (vibration activated by touch).
Even though Samsung uses the technology on some of its mobile phones and its YP-P3 digital media player, I was still surprised to see the option to enable and set the strength of the vibration, especially since the feature isn't mentioned anywhere in the official press materials.
Keyboard backlight. The Mondi's hardware keyboard backlighting can be manually set to stay on for 1-10 seconds any time a key is pressed or only during a custom time period. The former option is standard fare, but the latter is pretty unique.
With this option, you can conserve battery power by setting the keyboard backlight to only turn on during the hours of your choosing. For example, if you only use the device in low-light conditions between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., the backlight will remain off except for when you're using the keyboard during that two-hour timeframe.
Light sensor. Screen brightness settings can be controlled manually, but the ambient light sensor located beneath the webcam does a fine job of automatically adjusting it for you.
Registry edits. Though I've successfully applied a registry edit to enable the use of a third-party app on the Mondi, I haven't been able to get any of the system edits (e.g., screen rotation, soft keyboard launch) to "stick." Even though all of the edits are saved and the newly input values don't get reset when I exit/re-enter the registry editor (I'm using PHM), none of the desired changes actually take effect. I don't know enough about Windows Mobile to know if it's possible for a device to be set to ignore user edits, but that sure seems like what's happening.
Remapping buttons. Not all of the Mondi's hardware buttons are remappable out of the box. Under Settings -> Buttons, only the camera, IE, and message keys can be reassigned.
Short and long presses of all three buttons can be mapped to perform different functions, which is good, but the ability to also remap the two soft keys, home button, and left action key would be better. I assume there are registry edits that can enable this, but the Mondi has refused to accept many other edits I've made so I'm not hopeful that they would work anyway.
Rotating screen orientation. Except for what the accelero meter can do in Opera Mobile, the Mondi does not support screen orientation rotation out of the box.
A lot of Windows Mobile devices include rotation in the settings menu, but it's absent from the Mondi. Unhiding the option via a registry edit doesn't work for some reason either, so the only way to rotate the device for portrait use is through third-party software.
Soft keyboard. The on-screen keyboard is incredibly usable and one of the best soft keyboards I've ever tried on a Windows Mobile device.
The problem, unfortunately, is that it pops up whenever a text input field is selected, regardless of whether the slide-out keyboard is exposed and/or in use. There's a WM registry edit that's supposed to prevent this from happening, but it doesn't work correctly on the Mondi. The virtual keyboard will disappear once you start typing with the hardware keyboard, but it's still very annoying to see it popping up all the time.
Today screen. If you don't like Samsung's second-gen TouchWiz overlay that comes preloaded on the Mondi (see video demos of the UI) and sits atop Windows Mobile 6.1, you don't have to use it. It's just a Today screen item that can be disabled/enabled at will through Settings -> Today -> Items tab. Although it looks nice and is pretty well optimized for finger use, I personally don't like it.
Instead, I use the fantastic SPB Mobile Shell 3.0, which looks great on the Mondi's WVGA screen and has a faster/smoother response than TouchWiz.
Video calling. Despite the inclusion of a webcam, the Mondi currently does not support video calling.
It is likely that the function will eventually be supported (a service pack that will enable it is rumored to be released later this year) but at the time of this writing and according to Samsung's PR spokesperson, there is no official timetable for video call capabilities.
Weight. Despite what the official specs claim, the Mondi is not a mere 5.39 ounces. According to my digital scale, which correctly measures the weight of other items, the device weighs 6.7 ounces without the battery and 7.9 ounces with it. 7.9 ounces is still light, sure, but it's nearly 50% more than the advertised weight!
And those are the "little things" about the Samsung Mondi that you might not have known about before, but that you definitely know about now. Whether any of this changes your opinion on the device depends on your prior understanding/perception of it and your personal preferences and priorities. Some may fixate on one particular item and call it an automatic deal-breaker or deal-maker, while others may be trying to determine for themselves whether the good outweighs the bad.
See more Samsung Mondi features and reviews.