Samsung’s WiMAX Mondi is Mondo Huge

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With Clear’s WiMAX mobile Internet service now blanketing Baltimore, Portland, and many more cities to come, Samsung has decided to roll the dice on the fledging standard’s success and release a mobile Internet device (MID) with WiMAX built in and running Windows Mobile 6.1. We sat down with the long-rumored and now-revealed Mondi at the company’s CTIA booth.

An MID is, by default, a sort of awkward device. Too small to be a netbook, too big to be a cell phone, it’s seemingly stuck in awkward mobile device adolescence. This is especially apparent in the Mondi. You can’t quite pocket it easily like a cell phone, but on the other hand, its keyboard is still thumb operated and not as competent as a netbook’s. This was perhaps the most glaring problem with the device, since its size makes it a bear to both hold and type with. The flip side is the gorgeous 4.3-inch screen, which feels downright comfortable for surfing with the included Opera 9.5 browser, and almost excessive for other tasks. There’s also an included stylus, which turned out to be the most efficient way to surf, given the somewhat clumsy touch screen.

Although it doesn’t connect to conventional cell phone networks, Samsung has included dual cameras (one facing the user and one facing away) along with a microphone, for teleconferencing using either WiMAX or Wi-Fi. To the same end, there’s another rarity: an included HDMI output for connecting it to a television.

Windows Mobile indicated that it was connected to a WiMAX network at the show, but browsing speeds were relatively unimpressive. It would be unfair to say that this performance will be anything like connectivity in actual target markets, though.

The Mondi should be popping up in Best Buy locations by the end of the second quarter, but pricing has not yet been announced.

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