Toshiba might have a strong hold of the LCD television market, but in the UK, mobile phones are still a new venture for the Japanese company. But can Tosh crack the market with its second handset? We have a look and find out.
The Toshiba 803 is the company's music offering that will be vying for your cash alongside the Sony Ericsson Walkman Phone range and the iTunes Motorola RAZR.
What better way then, for a new comer to launch a new phone than with a blitz of high-profile marketing?
In this case, it's the sponsorship of the current Oasis tour and because of that, fans of the band will be pleased to hear that included in the box with the TS 803 is an 512Mb Mini SD Card with seven audio tracks and seven video tracks of the band performing live in Manchester earlier this year.
Gimmicks aside, the phone supports 3G and Quad-band connectivity and because of this, it is still on the large side; it measures 111 x 50 x 25mm and weighs 148g including battery.
The design is distinctively angular and some might say retro. The clam shell device features dual stereo speakers on the rear next to the 2.2 megapixel digital camera lens and the front features a 1.3 inch display for phone information, but also so you can see artist names, album and song title and length.
Below the screen, The TS 803 shows its music focus but offering a play, pause, fast forward, rewind and back button. The addition of the buttons mean you are more likely to treat the phone as a music player rather than just a phone that plays music and the only catch we could find is that you can't control videos by the buttons.
On the side is a quick access cover to the headphone socket and the Mini SD Card, however the covers are so flimsy you should expect these to break within the first week of any real use.
The music element is strengthened further by the ability to connect your own headphones, although this must be done via an additional cable rather than straight into the phone itself. It's not a bad trade off, as the cable comes with a remote control built in that offers all the same features as the front of the device, except with the added bonus of a call answer and drop button.
The decision to allow you to use your own headphone is a good one and Toshiba should be commended for its efforts.
Inside and that minimalist design continues. The keys are well spaced out, clearly labelled and easy to use thanks to their flatness. Above that are a d-pad and four further keys used to quick access files, features and the menu.
It's worth mentioning at this point that the phone's colour screen is very impressive. It is clear, crisp and you can certainly notice the difference when watching television (via Vodafone's Mobile TV offering) or media on the phone.
Interestingly, in Toshiba's efforts to sell the TS 803 as a music phone rather than a 3G device, the company has opted to leave out the usually standard second camera inside for video calling. When we asked Chris Bignell, PR & Advertising Manager, Toshiba Mobile his response was:
“The TS 803 does allow the user to make 3G calls, however, we accept that the
callers video image will not be displayed. This is because the focus of this
product was to deliver a music player within a mobile phone”.
As for the operating system, because the phone is an exclusive to Vodafone, it has had the usual operator menu applied. The menu is simple to navigate and everything is fairly well laid out.
Of course if you are used to a Nokia or Sony Ericsson you will notice lots of differences, but nothing that will concern you too much or put you off altogether.
The phone also features Bluetooth has a standby time of up to 270 hours and talk time of up to 320 minutes all of which we can vouch for although regular charging would be recommended.
It's a strange thing and one that is confusing us. The phone has all the elements any multimedia fan could want: the simplified music offering, the 3G connectivity to get more content, like music, trailers and television and a good digital camera too boot, however for some reason we just can't get excited about the TS 803.
The size and design for us is certainly two of the major factors working against it, but then we liked the Sharp 903 and this is around the same size. There is just something missing.
One to ponder.