After the improvements TouchWiz picked up when used as a skin on the Samsung i8910HD, we were looking forward to the actual TouchWiz UI getting the same advances after the terrible fusion of keyboard and touchscreen in the Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition, where Samsung wanted to re-invent the wheel.
It's good and bad news on the Samsung Jet S8000, with the good news coming out on top. Messaging is much more intuitive than before, with a greater degree of accuracy and a nice set of options for your letter-taps to your mates.
Given there's only a 3.1-inch screen to play with, the QWERTY keyboard works well. Accuracy is high (although there's no auto correct for the times when you mess up).
And while we're on inaccuracy when using the QWERTY, the placement of the return and delete keys leaves a lot to be desired. It's only after the 60th attempt at trying to delete a letter do you realise that you're mostly hitting the return key, meaning you've just written a message full of lines.
The same can be said for the portrait text input, where Samsung has stayed with its plan to move all the keys around for working with the text. Space is once again in the hash key space, 0 has the job of cycling through your words on the T9 input, and the star key toggles T9 selection.
If you want to add a word into the T9 dictionary, then you'll have to shave your little finger down to a point to access the scroll-down menu of word options on offer at the top of screen. You'll generally have to work through 14 of these before you get the option to 'add word'. Not the most ideal of choices, and it left us switching off T9 or heading for the QWERTY.
Why it couldn't have been the same as all the other phones everyone will have used ever (apart from the pioneering Tocco Ultra Edition, of course), we don't know. However, if Samsung manages to change the way we use text, then fair play.
Of course, there's always handwriting recognition, but you might as well just put the phone on the counter and throw Maltesers at the on-screen keyboard - the accuracy and effort would probably be about the same.
We honestly tried to learn to use this, assuming there must be SOME point given that most touchscreens have it, but in the end we only learned that it's just something that 'can be done'. We nearly got on board with the idea, except when we tried to write the letter U and the phone decided that we REALLY wanted to write V or Y. Every time. Bye, handwriting recognition, we never really knew ya. For a reason.
You can configure webmail to automatically download to the phone as well, although as with the Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition, it's a very tricky process requiring you to check the right boxes for SMTP and POP3 authentication, input the correct port number and generally fail two or three times before you get it right.
Once the messages are downloaded from your account, there's also no way to mark them all as read (which you will have done, as the Jet S8000 just downloads them all as unread) so you have to manually go through all of them to remove the 'new email' icon at the top of the screen.
There's also the option to link in your email via Exchange support on the Jet S8000, but when we opened it up, there were just so many blank fields that needed filling in we nearly wanted to cry.
If you're after Google Mail, use the inbuilt application. If you want it for corporate email, then throw it at your IT guy sobbing 'I don't know how to do this!' before browsing the list of available BlackBerry handsets on offer while you wait for him to come back.