Toshiba TG01 - First Look review

Toshiba has announced its latest stab at taking on the mobile phone market with the TG01. But can the new touchscreen mobile phone that promises to "revolutionise the mobile entertainment world" really crack the market dominated by so many other players? We managed to get a brief hands on with the new phone.

Okay - when we say brief we mean it. We had a about 10 minutes with the phone in total while filming a walk-through for Megawhat, but that time did allow us to get all touchy feely with the interface and therefore share some of our experiences with you, our lovely readers.

So what do you get? Well virtually everything it seems. It's a top of the range smartphone, so that means there is Wi-Fi, HSDPA, AGPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera on the back, and a microSD card slot around the side that's hot swappable.

The screen is the big wow factor here; it's a 4.1-inch wide VGA (800 x 480) touchscreen that Toshiba says is for "enhanced viewing and optimum rendering of original movies". In reality the screen is big and crisp although not multi-touch enabled.

Toshiba reckon they've taken the technology normally found in its REGZA range, and crunched it down into this handset - a 4.1-inch television for all intents and purposes. With that in mind you'll get colour matching, LCD backlight control, colour image control and dynamic gamma correction controls. The result is that video and gaming playback is good - BlackBerry Storm good - and with a bigger screen you will get more of a movie experience than, say, the iPhone.

To help promote the video playback functionality even further Toshiba has made the player DivX capable and you can see why the company has made the decision to offer support for microSDHC up to 32GB rather than offer an in-built memory option of the more standard 8GB (it's actually 512MB). If you're going to be watching movies you want them to be good.

Sporting a 4.1-inch screen would, as you might expect, make the device rather large. And large it is, but luckily it's not thick. At 9.9mm it's thinner than the competition (iPhone, G1, Storm, HTC Touch) and while it means it will take up most of your pocket space, at least it won't protrude too much - you won't be getting "hello big boy" remarks.

Get past the big screen and the handset is powered by Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 1GHz chipset meaning you get the fastest chipset around at the moment.

In reality it means the phone can do stuff faster without hanging or getting Microsoft's spinning circle of death. It also means that menus can be a bit more "swish" and so Toshiba has heavily customised the interface beyond the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system.

Interestingly you will be able to turn down the chipset to conserve battery if you don't need all that power thanks to a collection of Toshiba Utilities in the settings menu.

Following in HTC's footsteps the interface is very different to the Windows Mobile 6.1 you've seen on devices such as the Omina for example, taking on a three-column system.

Those three columns don't however seem to have any user interface purpose apart from looking different and the best way to describe it is like a blind on a window. Swishing your finger from left to right spins through the columns. The colours are yellow, pink, and purple - all a bit much.

Being Windows Mobile 6.1 you get all the usual software elements - Office support, email and the like. Unlike HTC, Toshiba has stuck with Internet Explorer as the default browser and you'll get IE6 here with, you'll be pleased to know, full Adobe Flash support. Giving you the ability to watch videos, as long as you've got a data package to match, to your heart's content.

While the company has yet to confirm whether it will be offering an upgrade path to the much rumoured Windows Mobile 6.5 OS we would probably take that as a given. The result could mean the interface changing completely by the time it comes out in the summer. Let's hope.

Verdict

Our time was brief with the TG01, however it's clear that Toshiba has the opposite offering to the G1 from Google on its hands.

What do we mean by that? Well, instead of a duff handset with an operating system with masses of potential, Toshiba have a great looking handset with an OS that in its current state is a bit lacking.

The screen is lovely, the speed very good and the spec feature set impressive, but let's hope that it will either be sporting a newer better version of Windows Mobile or possibly an Android brother when it eventually lands in the UK later this year.

The Toshiba TG01 is due out summer 2009.