Toshiba TG01

Toshiba TG01

So, the Toshiba TG01. This has been eagerly awaited by many. Toshiba
have at last released a Windows Mobile phone and, after glancing at the
specifications, they’ve come up with one hugely powerful device. For a
start there’s that capacious screen – a massive 4.1″ at 400×800 and
bigger than the Touch HD
we reviewed a while back. Then there’s the hugely powerful 1Ghz
processor. A 1Ghz processor .. in a phone! Who’dathunkit? I’ve still
got computers in my loft with less power than this phone – and they ran
Windows 98! There’s a shake control, accelerometer for the
auto-screen-rotation, WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, aGPS, a 3.1
megapixel camera and 3G HSDPA / HSUPA connectivity.

Toshiba TG01

First impressions? Well, it definitely feels big. Having nothing this
large in the Windows Mobile market makes it feel larger than your
existing handset but it stops short of feeling silly when you’re using
it to make calls. Toshiba have done an incredible slimming job on this
though. It’s probably won some Weight Watchers awards due to the
painfully thin frame. Combined with the tallness of the handset it
feels a little like monolith from Space Odyssey 2001.


Toshiba TG01

As usual we’ve recorded a couple of videos. The first is an unboxing
and a look at the contents..

The second video is a tour around the software and picture viewer plus
some browsing..

So let’s take a quick tour of the device. As I mentioned in the video
it can be a little difficult to fathom out which way up the device
should be. The zoom bar at the bottom is easily confused for the
earpiece when you’re in a rush and you can end up spinning the unit.

Toshiba TG01

At the bottom there’s just three controls which are all
touch-sensitive. The Home key, which takes you to the main screen (the
Orange or Toshiba one, whichever one you choose), the zoom bar (which
helps with browsing etc) and the back button to pop you out of programs
and apps. Press that zoom bar and drag onto the screen and you’ll get a
gesture control system, which lets you move an on-screen mouse pointer
around. This is for navigating fiddly websites and clicking on links if
you find that zooming and tapping on the screen doesn’t do it.

Toshiba TG01

The device itself is mainly black with a thin metal strip around the
outer edge and highlighted silver icons on the front. The left strip
has the power button (you’ll be hitting that a lot to wake the device
from it’s power-save mode) and the volume controls. Press and hold the
volume “up” key to lock the device or tap the keys to control the
volume of the device or the in-call volume.

Toshiba TG01
Toshiba TG01

The top and bottom of the handset don’t have any buttons or ports, but
the right side has a port which acts as a charge point, sync cable
hook-up and audio port. This is behind a flap which is a little tricky
to remove, mainly using your thumb nail to pop it off and reveal the
port. A set of headphones comes in the box with a normal 3.5mm plug on
the end. A converter comes to plug the included headphones into the
phone or you can use your own if you wish.

Toshiba TG01

Below that is the camera
button which, strangely, doesn’t activate the camera when you press it
quickly. Instead you have to press and hold it to
crank up the camera app, which is a bit of a change from most Windows
Mobile phones. Once the camera application is running you tap it once
to take a photo. My pet peeve re-appears here. From new the camera is
set to 640×480 for photos, which is a rubbish resolution. This isn’t a
dig at Toshiba, lots of handset manufacturers forget to set the camera
options and you’ll end up taking your first few dozen photos on 640×480
with the “medium quality” setting. You can’t use the zoom bar to zoom
in either, which is a shame. The on-screen slider needs to be used
instead.

Amongst my first impressions the words “thin” and “lightweight” came to
mind. However, I was also thinking “Where’s the call button? Where’s
the drop button?” The answer is that they’re on the screen, wedged in
next to the standard on-screen softkeys. They’re given just a few
pixels of room, which can make activating them a little tricky if
you’re on the go, but they do the job well enough.

Toshiba TG01

Around the back the 3.2 megapixel camera sits on the top of the rear
panel. No flash here. The majority of the back panel is a detachable
battery cover which slides down to reveal the 1000mAh battery, microSD
slot and the SIM card slot. Orange have kindly provided a massive 8GB
microSD card which is completely blank – loads of space for your
movies, MP3’s and documents. A nice little present from Orange! The
battery cover is actually quite bendy but does have enough give for
even the most ham-fisted reviewer.

Toshiba TG01

Notice something missing? Well, if you watched the vids above you’ll
already know. The stylus is in the box but there’s no-where to stash it
on the phone. It’s too thin for a stylus anyway, but I’m guessing that
Toshiba figured that the size of the screen and the on-screen control
system is enough for anyone. In truth it is, plus there’s a new
on-screen keyboard with big keys for quick data entry.


Toshiba TG01



On the
wide-screen orientation this is even better but we would’ve loved to
have seen some sort of on-board error correction system. There’s no
on-screen notification telling you which key you’re pressing either
and, to make matters worse, the space bar has been push over to the
left when you’re in widescreen mode, yet it’s in the normal place when
you’re in the portait setting. Who thought that was a good idea? Were
two different people working on each on-screen keyboard? To add insult
to injury it’s not even a bar on the widescreen
version any more, it’s a small key like all the rest. When I did start
typing the auto-complete system kicked in and put suggestions over the
top of the words I’d written, making reviewing your text a tricky
process.

Toshiba TG01



In other respects it’s fairly easy to use your finger to do most tasks
on the phone, although that’s mainly due to the size of the screen and
the obvious increase in icon sizes. The stylus itself is a small
plastic thing which dangles from a small cord. I’m guessing it’s
supposed to hang off your key rings or something.

Toshiba TG01

To switch the screen orientation you simply rotate the handset, but I
found that the orientation sensor was a little trigger-happy to say the
least. After pressing and holding the power button for slightly longer
than should be necessary you then don’t really know which way the
screen is going to decide to show – sometimes it’s portrait, sometimes
widescreen. This can make dialling a number even trickier as you chase
the small “call” key around the screen in some sort of demented game.
Think about it – when you press the power “wake up” button you do tend
to tilt the device to the right a little so your thumb can hit it. This
causes the phone to wake up in widescreen, but sometimes not. This will
have you quickly going into the Settings and then “Motion Sensor
Settings” to either turn it off or turn on the
“shake control” which can be set to enter the phone call screen. I
found this a much better method of accessing my dialpad, rather than
tapping the small green “call” key.
 On the right-hand screenshot below you can see the changes I
made…

Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01

Making a call is easy enough with the help of the contacts
synchronisation – all your Outlook contacts are automaticalluy pushed
to the phone of course, as are your appointments, tasks and more. One
thing I did find however was that, once in a call, the screen would go
blank. If you wanted to end a call – let’s say you wanted to end a call
quickly – you have to press and hold the power button, then wait for
the screen to wake up, then press the call drop key on-screen. This is
a slightly annoying process, especially when you just want to end the
call and stuff it back in your pocket.

Toshiba TG01

Inside

So many devices arrive at Coolsmartphone towers with the HTC TouchFLO
interface. The reason? They’re mostly HTC devices :) This obviously
isn’t, so we’re not going to see the TouchFLO interface here. Instead
toshiba have plumbed for this stripes system. The system doesn’t
perhaps have the graphical wow-factor of the TouchFLO system but does
instead offer a method of accessing programs and regularly used phone
features.

Toshiba TG01

The Toshiba homescreen isn’t the only option though, with a second
Orange homescreen available with the usual stip down the left side. The
Toshiba screen is probably our preference out of the two, which can be
customized by altering the stipes, moving them around and changing the
colours. The icons on each stripe can be a little tricky to press and
are quite a bit smaller than those on the standard Windows Mobile 6.1
programs list.

Toshiba TG01

Ahh yes, Windows Mobile 6.1. It’s July 2009 and this
device is using Windows Mobile 6.1 still. Although the Toshiba 3D Menu
is pretty it’s all too easy to drop into the Windows Mobile 6.1
interface.

Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01

Let’s be honest here, HTC have gone to great lengths to hide the
standard 6.1 interface. Why? Because it’s ruddy ugly and older than the
tree at the bottom of our garden. Sorry Microsoft, but the size of the
excellent Toshiba screen makes me think I’m using Pocket PC 2003 again.
Look at the screenshots
from this M2000 review
and see if you can spot a difference.
Go on. I dare you.

Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01
Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01

This isn’t Toshiba’s fault. I think it’s probably our fault. We’ve got
so used to seeing HTC-built phones with a full graphical interface
wrapping itself over the old Windows Mobile 6.1 interface. Seeing it
again after all this time is like seeing yourself naked in front of the
mirror. Eeekk.. It doesn’t look as good as it used to. Plus, things
aren’t all bad. I’ve already had emails from happy TG01 users who have
installed new control systems such as PointUI.
One email states…

“Just wanted to say that I have a Toshiba TG01 and have downloaded
Pointui to it. What a difference! Wow! Much more responsive, especially
with screen
tilting.”

This is where third-party apps come to the rescue and it’s great to
have Windows Mobile in that respect.

The on-board software supplied by Toshiba / Orange is great. Orange
have also chucked in that 8GB microSD card too, which is fantastic for
putting your videos onto. The CorePlayer software shows a large amount
of file formats – MP4 files zoom along in full-screen glory, plus you
can grab YouTube videos too. The video viewer is silky smooth and
doesn’t skip or fragment. As a movie or video viewer it’s top-notch

Toshiba TG01
Toshiba TG01

Oh, did I mention YouTube? You can watch YouTube videos in the Internet
Explorer browser. The rendering is definitely faster than before too.
URL’s can be entered with the on-screen keyboard in either orientation
and favourites added. The zoom bar is a little hit-and-miss here
though, with your thumb flailing around on the silver strip with the
browser stubornly refusing to zoom in any direction for the majority of
the time. However, the on-screen zoom control can be used instead and
there’s the usual copy / paste functions. It’s still sometimes
out-classed by the Opera browser we’ve seen elsewhere but the large
screen makes browsing a joy and, with the WiFi and mobile connectivity
it’s very quick at grabbing data.

Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01

Below you can see out site
– the first is the normal view whilst the second is zoomed out. Don’t
forget that all of these screenshots have been HALVED in size to be
viewable here. The actual image on the phone screen is a lot clearer
and more defined.

Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01

YouTube videos can also be uploaded directly from this handset with the
VideoEditor software. This is supplied by a company called ArcSoft and
lets you edit a variety of video formats, then upload your masterpiece
directly to YouTube for viewing in the on-board CorePlayer or Internet
Explorer software.

Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01

You can also create a storyboard or make a movie
from your phone pictures. This is a cool little app which I’d like to
see on more handsets. We’ve seen this software supports MPEG-4, H.263,
H.264, AAC, MP3, AMR, and QCELP..

Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01

The PhotoBase application is a gallery viewer and again the 1GHZ CPU
shines through when you’re using apps like this. Photos zoom in and out
with speed and smoothness, whilst choosing and loading pictures is a
breeze. You can slide your finger to the left or right whilst viewing a
picture to hop to the next image, plus you can choose to edit / crop
the photo, adjust the brightness, email it or watch all the pictures in
a lovely slideshow system.

The device seems to accept screen-switching in all apps, which is good.
Even the homescreens work in both orientations however some screen
switching is slower than expected and adds to the frustration when
you’re trying to find the soft-keys or call-keys in a hurry. If you
move it to landscape mode you may be forgiven for thinking that it’s
not doing anything, so you tilt the phone back and press the green
“Call” key. It’s about now that the 1Ghz CPU suddenly fires into life
and switches into landscape mode, fooling you into thinking that you
can rotate the device that way again – but no, it’s still catching up
on your movements and goes straight back into portrait. Agh… I turned
this off pretty much straight away.

Other apps like Orange Maps, the Video Editor, PhotoBase and Adobe
Reader work with blistering pace and seem to squeeze more performance
out of the CPU than the Microsoft on-board apps such as Messaging and
Email.

You get the Office Mobile suite, with Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and
Word being more-than-usable on the sizable screen. There’s also a handy
cable in the box that’ll let you stick your USB pen-drive into the
TG01, meaning that this instantly sucks documents and other media
directly into the device at crazy speeds.

Toshiba TG01 

Apps can of course be downloaded but currently there’s no on-board
app-store to get your fix from. The Google Maps app is a good starter
and works brilliantly with the on-board GPS – you can snoop around
neighbourhoods and zoom into gardens or get directions. This being
WinMo also means that you can use your own ringtones, adjust the
backdrop, install games and Bluetooth files around easily.

Camera


The camera isn’t too bad at all and focuses well. After adjusting the
resolution up the maximum resolution we can very nice results in
outdoor light but, without any flash, it struggled in low-light. The
camera preview screen lets you choose picture style, resolution, focus
and so on. You can also hop into the gallery or switch to video mode.

Toshiba TG01

Below are some examples of photos I took. Don’t forget that you can
click on the images to get the larger version.

Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01Toshiba TG01

Conclusion


Everything good about this phone comes from third-party apps and the hardware Toshiba have on tap. The
homescreen is good, CorePlayer is great, the Orange Maps system is
great, the PhotoBase application is great. The hardware is fantastic
too, but Windows Mobile 6.1 feels old now and it’s just not covered up
enough. The experience ends up being a little disjointed and I kinda
wish that 6.5 was on-board with perhaps a Toshiba GUI which soaks itself into
the OS deeper. The phone spec is simply excellent, but a great spec and
a delivery to market isn’t everything.

What gets me is that this phone and this entire review would be so
different if I’d put an illegal ROM onto it from the likes of xda-developers.com.
The 6.1 OS just pops it’s head into things too much and the out-of-box
experience isn’t great. The tilt sensor should be disabled or have it’s
sensitivity adjusted, the OS should be hidden more or updated and there
should be some real call / drop keys on the front – if only so I can
tell which way up the phone should go. After a few minutes you can
suddenly make this phone much better. The addition of the PointUI
interface for example will make this seem like a completely different
phone.

The Toshiba TG01 is a thin handset with a gorgeous screen, lightening
performance, excellent specs but suffers from a strange button
implementation and an ageing OS which isn’t buried down far enough.

Link – Orange.co.uk (Prices vary depending on contract)

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