Samsung Mondi MID — Groundbreaking or Falling Short?

samsung-mondiI was just reading through the first review I’ve seen of the Samsung Mondi MID over at PC World. It’s well worth the read if you’re considering the Mondi. But I came away with more questions than answers. I just can’t get too jazzed about a Windows Mobile 6.1 device that’s repackaged as a “MID,” doesn’t offer cellular voice or always-on data, and isn’t likely to be upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.5.

For all intents and purposes, the Nokia N810 WiMAX Edition offered similar hardware, connectivity and features. Granted, running Windows Mobile on any device offers a vast number of third-party applications — far more than you can find for a Nokia Maemo device. But is there anything groundbreaking or revolutionary here?

The Mondi is a nice piece of hardware and offers support for WiMAX, yes. The design isn’t radically different from other slide-out QWERTY handhelds, though. And WiMAX is only available in a few cities — the reviewer used it in Portland where Clearwire has deployed WiMAX and still found many coverage holes. Mention was made of how the device supports Flash, but that’s done through Opera Mobile, which is currently available for most other Windows Mobile devices already. Video playback was good and the device supports DivX, but again, there are Windows Mobile software solutions available today that offer the same. I can’t help but ask: Why not forgo the WiMAX, add cellular support and get an HTC Touch Pro2, which offers a reasonably similar package?

Then there’s the pricing. The Mondi can be ordered today for $450, but you can get a subsidized price by agreeing to a 2-year WiMAX deal. The net price after your data commitment? $350, which is too high in my book for a device with spotty data coverage and no traditional voice. Sure, you can use Skype or another VoIP app — when you have data coverage — but you’re very likely still going to have to carry a phone. And in the end, I have to wonder: What can the Mondi can do that today’s smartphones can’t? That’s where I keep getting stuck with this device. Actually, that’s where I get stuck on the reason for MIDs in general. What device do they replace in my pocket or gear bag? Right now: none.

Maybe I’m just cranky from my 28-hour travel ordeal earlier this week. I’m not trying to be a “hater” — I’m trying to understand the device, its intended use and potential audience. Of course, I’m simply going on the device specifications and one review. Perhaps I’ve overlooked the “killer feature” or reason that would cause the Mondi to have huge mass-market appeal. I’m sure you’ll let me know. ;)

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