Samsung Ativ Odyssey review

Budget pricing begets budget features in this Windows Phone 8 handset

Samsung Ativ Odyssey

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The Ativ Odyssey's built-in Maps app thankfully includes transit stops and both walking and driving directions, but it's inconsistent and comes with some frustrating quirks.

Samsung Ativ Odyssey

Typing in a nearby intersection at times instead sent us to a location far away (even in another state), while other times the GPS had trouble locating us on the map. While we prefer to use a native app instead of a web version whenever possible, we had more success using the Google Maps web app in this case.

Along with the Windows Phone 8-standard apps like Office (document, spreadsheet, and presentation creation) and OneNote (for note-taking), the Ativ Odyssey comes with a handful of Samsung-provided tools.

MiniDiary is a digital diary for notes and photos that can be password-protected, while Now serves up weather and headlines and shows the current temperature on its LiveTile. Verizon also contributes its VZW Navigator app for voice-guided navigation, which requires a subscription, as well as the NFL Mobile app.

Naturally, you can fill the phone up with any number of downloaded apps from the Windows Phone 8 marketplace, but while Microsoft claims to be recruiting the biggest apps from other platforms, the selection is still scarce. Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and Skype all have official apps, but Google's non-search apps are MIA, along with Flipboard and many other headline options.

Samsung Ativ Odyssey

It's also difficult to find what you're looking for in the store, with the listings clogged with middling knock-offs of established apps and games from iOS and Android. And games are a particular weak point, despite the Xbox tie-in and ability to play a handful of exclusive titles (like Skulls of the Shogun) familiar to Xbox 360 users. Many of the platform's top games are quite dated elsewhere, but only recently hit Windows Phone.

App and game selection is an ongoing issue with Windows Phone, though, and it's certainly not limited to the Ativ Odyssey – though if you're used to the more robust ecosystems of other devices, switching to Windows Phone 8 might feel very limiting indeed.