Samsung's Ativ Odyssey tries to be as epic as Homer's classic in three ways: as Verizon's primary foray into Windows, as Samsung's first Windows device in the U.S. and as a compact phone in a world of massive displays. But sadly, the only thing classic the Odyssey about is its literary namesake.
The Odyssey looks like a Galaxy S3 after lap-band surgery. It's a lot smaller than the behemoths, which means it has a considerably downsized screen -- but it's also much easier to hold, so anyone bemoaning the gigantic trend will appreciate Samsung's more modest approach. It's coated in the same too-glossy plastic as most of the entries to the Galaxy line, and since it's smaller than the S3, it's also easier to grip.
The 4-inch Super AMOLED screen isn't as brilliant as its competitors' massive displays, but it's well-served by an 800-by-480 pixel resolution, which keeps the images sharp and vivid. It's on par with the HTC 8S, both in terms of resolution and screen size, which is decent, but not quite as good as the displays on Nokia's Lumia 810 and 820, which offer less pixels per inch, but have darker hues.
The 5-megapixel camera, meanwhile, will induce yawns if you're used premium phones. While it's a step up from the 8S's substandard camera, it's a far cry from the 8-megapixel shooters. Still, photos are well-lit -- aided by a powerful LED flash -- and videos are clear at 1080p recording. There's even a decent 1.2-megapixel front-facing lens for video chat, but it's decidedly mid-range. Don't bother with self-portraits. For that, you'll need to spend more and get an 8X or iPhone 5.
The Odyssey runs on Windows 8, and the software's intuitive Live Tiles are fun to use. If you're worried about the operating system, it's pretty intuitive if you've used Windows on PC. Unfortunately, the app selection continues to lag far behind Android and Apple's offerings. Still, it's easy to setup, especially if you use Hotmail, and you'll be off and running in no time.
The rest of the hardware is solid. There's a 2100 mAh battery, 8-gigabytes of internal storage and a microSD slot if you need more space. Under the hood, there's a speedy 1.5-gigahertz processor that powers through apps and games, and best of all, it runs on Verizon's zippy 4G LTE network.
But overall, the Odyssey is rather mediocre. It gets points for the lack of gaping flaws, but there's also nothing particularly great to recommend. It's a safe, functional phone, but it lacks pizzazz. If you want a Windows 8 phone, frankly, there are better options. Give the 8X and Lumia 920 a look if you're going high-end, and if you want to stay mid-range, the 8S is far superior. ♦
Frankly, I wasn't too impressed with the higher-end Ativ S, and the Odyssey doesn't have the flash and flair of the rivals from Nokia or HTC. It shares the same parts as older models, but the design is a bit different than what you might be used to from Samsung.
The touch display is much smaller at just 4.8-inches. Though it's larger than the iPhone, it's a far cry from the Note or Galaxy. Unfortunately, that means the resolution isn't that great either.
I didn't like the design of the phone, the exterior is crafted of the same cheap plastic you'd find on other Samsung products -- but on the plus side, it's pretty lightweight, so you don't realize it's in your pocket. The whole phone is a magnet for fingerprints too.
There's not much to Windows that isn't covered. The tiles are nice and easy to use, the apps are lacking. You can resize icons, add shortcuts and multitask. The nice thing is, the streamline software runs pretty smooth on low-end devices like the Odyssey. Verizon and Samsung added some bloatware, but they're easily removed.
One nice thing is the LTE and Ev-Do capabilities, as well as GSM and HSPA+ if you travel. So you'll always be able to connect to networks.
The camera was a bit disappointment. It works well in daylight, but anything but the most optimal conditions produces subpar photos. And don't even bother recording with the second camera -- that thing is completely useless.
The battery is a bit short on life -- worse than the Lumia and HTC lines. Don't expect to get through the day if you're a heavy user.Was this review helpful to you?
This is a generic and forgettable Windows phone. On the plus side, the size is small and comfortable to hold. And Windows 8 runs smoothly. The 4-inch display won't blow you away -- it's a hair better than the Lumia 822's screen, but considerably worse than the high-end ones you'd find on the Lumia 920 or HTC One X+, for example.
The 5-megapixel auto-focus lens is decent. And an LED flash is one of the few features you'll find. The Lumia 822 has a better suite of camera functions, and if you're looking for a better lens -- 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss -- you're better off going with that.
Still, I found the voice quality to be very strong and clear -- and talking in noisy environments, like at a crowded restaurant or beach -- was not a problem.
If don't have your heart set on Windows, give the Razr M a look too -- it runs on Android. The Odyssey is a fine phone, but it doesn't offer much new -- and it isn't that exciting.
Samsung continues to make phones out of cheap plastic. It's the same material you'll find on the Galaxy S3 -- with the same fake textured backplate too.
Verizon adds the handy Data Sense, which lets you keep track of how much data you use, and when you're approaching your plan limit. And there are a few more to watch the NFL, listen to Slacker, and get directions via VZ Navigator. Most cost extra. But outside of these, the number of apps you can choose from is lacking.Was this review helpful to you?
The 1.5-gigahertz chip is plenty fast and I haven't had issues on stalling or lag. The 5-megapixel camera is so-so. The few editing options that come are sort of cheesy.
Samsung preinstalls its "Now" app, which pulls weather data, stock quotes and currency exchange rates, among others. You can set it as a tile on the home screen, but it only shows you the temperature of your city, but you'll need to open the app to view it.
There are a few other apps like a Mini Diary that lets you write your thoughts, paste photos and record your voice. It's not that functional, though.
The battery lasts me a whole day with plenty of power to spare. You'll still have to charge it every night, but it's pretty impressive considering many smartphones can't last past the late afternoon.
The AMOLED screen is great, but the 800-by-480 pixel resolution is lacking -- images are vibrant, but are a bit grainy. It's pretty noticeable when you're checking the calendar or reading e-mails.
Compared to iOS and Android, there aren't many apps to choose from in the Windows market.
Overall, the hardware is nice, but the software has gaping holes in it. It's less to do with Windows, and more to do with Samsung. And if you have your mind set on Microsoft's platform, the Lumia might be another option to look at.Was this review helpful to you?
I picked up the Odyssey last week and have had no major problems so far. It's my first smartphone, after ditching my flip phone, but I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed with it.
As a PC user, I'm used to the Windows operating system, so I wanted something I'd be familiar with. In addition, I wanted a device that could add extra memory and last through the day on a single charge -- basically, a good bang for the buck phone.
If you're not used to smartphone, the learning curve is sort of steep. But I was able to pick things up after a week or so. You don't need to spend hundreds for a top-notch smartphone. But there are drawbacks to this phone.
The virtual keyboard is hard to use too, and I ran into problems trying to sync the phone to my PC to upload photos. If you only want a phone to call and keep in touch with friends, the Odyssey will do the trick. But it's a basic smartphone. If you need something more, it may not do the trick. I don't use it for much, and I'm pretty happy with it.Was this review helpful to you?
If you can turn it on, it's nice. But that's a big if. I'm sure the features are decent, but Samsung has bigger problems with this phone than just the Windows operating system.
I bought one of these devices last Thursday, and by Friday, it started acting up -- it started displaying a green screen. By Sunday, the phone just stopped working completely. I'm not sure if I just happen to be lucky and pick up a defective unit, but having previously used the Motorola Droid and not being used to Samsung or Windows, but after this experience, I won't be going back to either.
The app selection is dismal. If you're used to any apps on Android, you'll have to repurchase all of them -- if you can find them at all.Was this review helpful to you?
Write a review and share you thoughts.