Engadget: HTC Surround & Samsung Omnia 7 Reviews

Nilay Patel, Engadget, regarding the HTC Surround:

… the Surround has a 3.8-inch LCD with the same 480 x 800 resolution as every other WP7 launch device. While the display is commendably bright and vibrant — we actually thought it was a bit too bright at the lowest setting — it’s still not up to the standard set by the iPhone 4 and Samsung’s Super AMOLED devices. On a phone built for video playback, that’s sort of an issue, and it’s one that’s on Microsoft to solve — WP7 doesn’t support higher resolutions yet. … we’d like to have seen an SLCD display here — a serious video playback device needs more than just a pretty good screen.

Just a pretty good LCD for a smartphone focused on providing a great movie viewing experience: HTC probably should have focused a bit more on the display than on the speaker.

Richard Lai on the Samsung Omnia 7:

… and that high-contrast Super AMOLED screen easily puts other LCD handsets to shame. No, really — even though this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen this vibrant display technology in action, and despite some minor trade-offs such as pixel density, we were still amazed by the staggering difference when comparing the Omnia 7 with the HD7 and Mozart. On top of that, we definitely love how WP7’s black background blends in so beautifully with the screen’s frame.

Super AMOLED with the black backgrounds on WP7. A superb combination that not only looks great but also saves on power consumption.

Future WP7 Pixel Format

Apple went from 480×320 to 960×480 keeping the same 3.5-inch size for two reasons. One was backwards compatibility to make sure older apps worked and looked okay. The other was high-resolution. New apps look fantastic. If Microsoft wants to follow suit and offer a higher pixel format in the next release of WP7 the company will have to think about those two reasons. Would 1600×960 be an option in 2011? Probably not.

Fragmentation vs. Integration

WP7 is already a lot less fragmented than Android when it comes to user experience. The three buttons are exactly the same and positioned in the same location for WP7. There aren’t any addition UI overlays, so far. All use 800×480. That’s a good start. But, the size of the display is different from device to device. Although the smallest and the largest will only differ in size by at most an inch, that change pixel density will make a difference in user experience.

A 4-inch 800×480 will not look the same as a 3-inch 800×480. The 4-inch display sports a resolution of 233.24 PPI. The 3-inch’s resolution is 310.98 PPI. A single inch makes a big difference in pixel density. As you and I know pixel density makes a big difference in user experience.

For some the denser pixels on the 3-inch might look cleaner but for some others the size of the fonts might be too small. And vice versa for the 4-inch. Giving users an option of different hardware is a worthy goal but at the same time a unified user experience will be elusive. Apple has no equal, but WP7 is much closer than Android.