Toshiba has never been at the forefront of the mobile phone industry, mostly because its main competitor is HTC who hold a huge chunk of the smartphone pie.
However, the slimline Toshiba Portégé G810 goes a little way to redeem some of the market share, and with new handsets promised by the end of the year, this could be the start of something special.
The G810 shouldn’t be confused with its Samsung namesake. It is in fact a smartphone operating on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, with a large screen and some Motorola style buttons below it. Like other devices operating on WM Professional edition, the manufacturer has overlaid its own touch interface, but it’s not the most innovative out there.
You’ll need to use the stylus rather than a finger. This may not seem like a challenging issue, but the stylus isn’t something you can just slip in and out willy nilly. In fact it’s a large chunk of the casing that will leave half your phone missing if you lose it.
Touching the void
One problem that does arise though is that the screen isn’t particularly precise. I found it increasingly difficult to tap the correct letter when writing a text or email because, despite me configuring the handset correctly when powering up the phone first off (which includes tapping specific points on the screen to align it), the screen still wasn’t aligned properly. This was also apparent when scrolling down web pages or in fact any page that required me to scroll. It is nigh on impossible to move down pages unless you highlight everything on the page.
It’s not just the screen that’s touch sensitive. The buttons underneath it can be activated with your finger, much like on most handsets with touch sensitive keys, and are super-responsive. Keys that can be used by touch are the call answer/end buttons, a Home Screen and Windows menu shortcut key, plus a four-way navigation button with central select button. This means you can forget using the scroll bar down the right hand side and use the up and down keys to breeze through web pages and menus.
The G810 is the slimmest Toshiba handset out there even though it’s rather chunky in comparison with other handsets in the same class. At 14mm it’s 3mm thicker than the HTC Touch Diamond, which makes quite a considerable difference when it’s in your hand. The device is also quite large in comparison. It’s certainly more BlackBerry sized, despite not even having a QWERTY keyboard.
The camera on the G810 is a rather generous (for Tosh anyway) 3-megapixel number with autofocus and an LED flash. Photos are crisp and the autofocus works exceedingly well for a business-based handset.
The battery life is quite staggering for such a feature-rich device; the 1530mAh battery will last for quite a time, even when the juice-slurping apps are running in the background. It’s certainly something that other manufacturers, especially Nokia, should be aiming for. After all, its Eseries handsets aren’t the thinnest in the world (well, maybe excluding the E71), so space limitations shouldn’t be a valid excuse. The only snag is if you’re a power caller and spend most of the day with the phone stuck to your ear. Battery life really suffers here, but nevertheless it still beats competitors’ offers.
With the device aimed at business users, it’s no surprise that there’s a healthy injection of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi which has been made easier to configure, HSDPA and HSUPA (which gives an upload speed of around 2Mbps if your network allows it).
The G810 is very similar in spec to the HTC Touch Cruise, which includes GPS, although annoyingly, there’s no software to utilise it. I recommend doing what I did, and downloading Google Maps for navigation, although without voice directions, it won’t work particularly well for a quick fix SatNav. However, with A-GPS, the G810 is quick to pinpoint your location or if you opt to buy additional SatNav software.
Although there’s a microSD card slot on the side of the Toshiba G810, and the device does support high capacity cards, the slot is unprotected so there’s quite a substantial risk that dust or a drop of water could get into the handset and destroy it. Not the best idea there, Tosh.
Quirks aside, the Toshiba G810 is a very competent business device. With all of the benefits of Windows Mobile Professional 6.1, including the easier to use Internet Explorer in comparison to the version supplied with Windows Mobile 6.0, and seamless set-up, the handset isn’t a bad offering. It’s a shame that the screen isn’t particularly touch-friendly because that’s how you’d normally do most of the navigating on this type of handset, but the super-sensitive touch buttons go a little way to overcome this problem.
As a relatively new contender in the smartphone arena, Toshiba has released a real power handset. The G810 features everything you want from a phone, including a very impressive camera, GPS, HSDPA and HSUPA to name only a few. However, features aren’t everything, and the performance of the G810 is severely hampered by the touch interface that is meant to be finger friendly but instead isn’t even stylus friendly. The stylus itself is hard to hold and is actually a large chunk of the casing, which means if you lose it, there’s part of your phone missing. Battery life smashes its competitors until you start making phonecalls, but all-in-all, the G810 is a very impressive device.
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