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Pros: Responsive touchscreen, Full HTML browser, 3.5mm headphone jack, Sleek and lightweight design

Cons: Mobile TV service doesn't work everywhere, GPS can be slow, TouchWiz needs some work

Samsung has released a bevy of similar-looking touchscreen phones on US carriers this Fall.  The Behold (T-Mobile), Delve (Alltel), Omnia (Verizon), and Eternity (AT&T) all feature full frontal touchscreens and Samsung's TouchWiz user interface with its dockable widget system.  The devices differ in terms of specs and features beyond that, however. 

AT&T's Eternity is probably my favorite of Sammy's four new TouchWiz devices.  While it lacks the high-spec camera, Windows Mobile OS, and WiFI of Omnia, it's actually more fun to use for the average consumer.  Why?  Eternity's "dumbphone" operating system is quick and stable.  Whereas Omnia's many features and smartphone OS sometimes result in lags and momentary freezes, Eternity is consistently responsive to the touch and able to hop from application to application with nary a delay.

So why Eternity over Behold or Delve, then?  Well, I should first say that I haven't gotten my hands on Delve yet, as Alltel doesn't work out here in the San Francisco, CA area.  I have tried Behold, and its 5MP camera was a letdown, image-quality wise, and its Web browser can't hold a candle to Eternity's browser.  The majority of full HTML sites I tried on Eternity rendered as well as I've seen them on any non-smartphone, and panning and zooming around the pages was easy thanks to the phone's responsive toucshcreen and volume rocker switch that doubles as zoom in/out controls in browser mode.

Eternity also features a very usable media player.  it may not be as heavy on the eye candy as those found on iPhone or SE's Walkman phones, but it works great for audio and video playback, and is backed by an integrated 3.5mm headphone jack (yay!).  AT&T's mobile TV service doesn't work out here in the Bay Area, but I was able to test it last month in Dallas, TX, and it worked pretty well.  The experience and image quality reminded me of the LG VU, AT&T's former flagship mobile TV phone.

Eternity lacks the smartphone features and fancy camera found on its big brother Omnia, but not everyone needs WiFi, an expandable operating system, and an autofocus camera with flash on their camera.  I hit a few snags with the GPS system (half the time it worked fine, the other half there were some issues locking in on a signal), and I wish that AT&T's mobile Email program would support GMail, already, but beyond that I have nothing to complain about with Eternity.  Samsung's got a winner here if you're in the market for a multimedia-friendly featurephone with a solid HTML browser.  And if they build TouchWiz out to support more - and more customizable - widgets, Eternity could turn into something of a psuedo-smartphone in a few months' time.

Verdict: Thumbs Up


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eBay prices for the Samsung Eternity a867


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