in time to the EURO 2008,
Giga-Byte introduced the
GSmart t600 (we've
previously photoviewed), a Windows Mobile 6 Professional 2.5G smartphone.
While the GSmart t600 design is over one year old already (the t600 was unveiled
during last year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona) it's still quite stylish,
if you like white "iPodish" mobile devices. Powered by a Marvell PXA270 CPU at
520 MHz, the GSmart t600 is a quadband GSM and GPRS device, also featuring WiFi
b/g and Bluetooth 2.0. Nevertheless, neither EDGE nor W-CDMA in terms of UMTS or
HSDPA are supported which might makes the device less attractive to
online-savvies. But that's not the focus of the t600 anyway but the main reason
for this smartphone is the fact that it supports
DVB-T broadcast which allows
users to watch digital terrestrial TV on the go.
While the official European standard for mobile TV is
DVB-H, which was
designed and developed for mobile devices and which has some serious technical advantages
over DVB-T, DVB-T has the advantage that it is broadcasted in many countries
already and that it is available, in most cases, free of charge without a
The Giga-Byte GSmart t600 sales pack includes the smartphone, a 1300 mAh
Li-ion Polymer battery, a stylus and the telescope antenna, a stereo headset
which also includes the microphone, a 110 - 220 Volt charger, a USB to mini USB
cable as well as the manual and a CD-ROM while a pouch isn't included (for more
please watch the unboxing videoview here).
The t600 is a typical Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition but the design
is quite unique. Following the iPod design, the front is glossy white, with a
white surface under a clear paint while the backside is white plastic only. The
t600 still features the old screen technique with a bezel but the 2.6"
touchscreen supports a VGA resolution. In addition to the Windows Mobile
smartphone typical call and end buttons, the device features a huge D-Pad which
looks like a scroll wheel but isn't a wheel at all as well as the Pocket PC
typical Start and OK buttons and two soft-buttons under the screen. On the
backside, the device features a 2 megapixel autofocus camera with photo light as
well as the loudspeaker. On the bottom, the device features a mini USB jack and
On the left side is the volume slider located while on the right side the
typical camera shutter is placed as well as the microSD card slot, protected by
a flap as well as the propriety stereo headset connector which also flap protected.
As mentioned in the unboxing videoview, the t600 comes with a telescope
antenna which is used for DVB-T and a telescope stylus but the device can either
hold the one or the other. Unfortunately, the antenna lacks a hinge which means
- because TV is shown in landscape - that the antenna overlaps on the left quite
heavy - if completely pulled-out.
While, on the first sight, the screen looks like a typical, in this case,
very small PDA
touch screen, it measures 2.6" only, it unfolds it full flavor after the device
is turned on and shows that it's a 640 x 480 pixel VGA screen which makes a
screen of this size super crisp. But it's not giving a crisp image only but it's
also relatively bright which makes it a pleasure to watch and view it, even
The t600, which is also available in a version with support for DVB-H, comes
with its own DVB-T client since DVB isn't a natively supported feature of
Windows Mobile. While DVB-T is standardized, there are two different DVB-T
codecs: the older MPEG-2 compression and the newer MPEG-4 compression. And while
all Western European countries broadcast DVB-T with MPEG-2, some Eastern
European countries are currently testing DVB-T2 which uses MPEG-4 as codec. The
GSmart t600 supports DVB-T with MPEG-2 only which means, it will not work in
Easter European countries using DVB-T2. Nevertheless, the t600 supports both TV
bands, UHF (Ultra
High Frequency) and
VHF (Very High
Frequency), which is important to receive the full list of channels. Some
other DVB-T mobile phones like the LG HB 620T only supports UHF which means you
might not receive some channels.
To make DVB-T working all over the world, or at least where DVB-T is used,
Giga-Byte added a DVB-T utility which includes some preconfigured DVB-T lists.
However, the lists are not complete, for instance it misses some German
cities, but users can run its own channel scan:
Above, you see on the second screenshot a scan of available DVB-T channels in
Munich (where the first four channels are VHF channels). Nevertheless, the ability to run channel scans allows users to use the GSmart t600 anywhere in the world where DVB-T is broadcasted and the
DVB-T coverage is constantly increasing and includes Europe and Russia as
well as some parts of East and South-East Asia as well as Oceania and Africa.
The DVB-T viewer itself can be used in full screen landscape only and shows the channel number and name in the upper
left corner as well as the current time, volume, signal quality and left battery in
percent on the bottom. Furthermore, it can be toggled between the video signal
and an audio only mode (by pressing the left, in this case lower, soft-button):
Furthermore, the player supports 2-channel sound which is used for instance to
have the original sound on one channel and the synchronization on the other
channel (see it in the video bellow):
Unfortunately, the t600's DVB-T client neither offers information about the
currently played program nor is an
EPG (Electronic Program Guide) available.
Also it's not yet possible to sort the channels in a channel list which means, that
a user cannot directly select a channel but have to switch through the channel
list with the D-Pad.
Since the GSmart t600 is a Windows Mobile 6 Professional smartphone, it
includes all Microsoft's standard Windows Mobile Professional applications including Outlook
Mobile, Office Mobile, Internet Explorer Mobile, Windows Media Player Mobile and
Windows Live Mobile including Windows Live Messenger Mobile.
And while the GSmart t600 isn't featuring Giga-Byte's new
GUI yet, which Giga-Byte
announced back in April, the t600 includes some other interesting
applications. First of all there are a couple of shortcuts available on the
Today screen which launch a couple of customized applications as well
as rotate the screen.
Maybe one of the most interesting applications, which can be launched from
the Today screen is called "Wise Talk". It allows to add a background
sound to phone calls. Predefined sound schemes include Airport, Car and Meeting.
So next time, you have to call somebody to tell him that you are late to the
meeting because your are still stuck in a traffic jam, you can add some
background sound, even if you still sit at breakfast.
Wise Talk's "Phone Record" allows a user to record phone calls. While this
might be a handy feature, it might be illegal in some countries or a
conversational partner has to be be informed that the call is recorded.
Last but not least Wise Talk also includes a local "Answering Machine" which
can be used instead of the network mailbox. This is another interesting feature
but since it only works if the phone has coverage and is turned on, it might be
less useful since most calls are going to the mailbox if the device is switched
off or if it is out of network coverage.
Other applications, Giga-Byte added are an "Audio Mixer" which lets a user
trim the bass, treble and 3D effect; "Recorder" which lets users record
conversations; "BlackList" which lets users block predefined or all unknown
calls as well as a ZIP utility which allows to compress and uncompress files.
Quite interesting is the fact that Giga-Byte also added Spb Software House'
(v1.6) which allows to perform full or custom device backups to make sure no
data is lost, even after a required hard reset.
Two years ago, the GSmart t600 might be one of the best Windows Mobile
Professional smartphones on the market but today, with the lack of EDGE, UMTS
and HSDPA as well as GPS, in terms of its wireless capabilities it's not state-of-the-art anymore. Nevertheless, that's not the focus of the t600 but it was designed
with easiness of use in mind as well as its strength is the DVB-T capability
which makes it quite unique at the moment. While some other DVB-T Windows Mobile
smartphones are already announced, non of them is currently available and
therefore, the GSmart t600 is only option, if you want a Windows
Mobile-powered DVB-T smartphone.
I definitely like the design and when I watched the Euro 2008 in the past days
on the t600, I was often asked what kind of smartphone the t600 is and the
overall feedback of the design was quite positive. So Giga-Byte definitely
designed a winner and - something important to keep in mind - not everybody
needs wireless broadband yet. While, for me, the lack of HSDPA is a limitation,
others will not be affected by the absence and something even more important is
supported: quadband GSM. Sure, DVB-T isn't used in North America but as a phone,
the GSmart t600 works virtually everywhere in the world, wherever GSM is
What I definitely like is the screen. First I thought a 2.6" VGA screen is
too small to be useful but it's so crisp and bright, that it is a pleasure
to be watched. Unfortunately, and this is a typical Windows Mobile limitation,
the device cannot take too much benefits from the VGA screen. While it is
definitely required for DVB-T broadcast, basically no other application takes a real
benefit from it, especially not Microsoft's Internet Explorer Mobile. And I while a
appreciate that the device isn't application overloaded, I would like to see a
preinstalled Opera Mobile 9.5 browser on the device since web browsing, with
Opera Mobile 9.5, is a real pleasure on VGA smartphones.
As mentioned above, TV works fine, as long as you are in a well covered area
(which, in my case, Munich is). However, DVB-T was never designed to be used
with mobile devices and therefore there are some technical drawbacks. For
instance, the t600 has problems to receive and playback the TV signal if you
driver faster then 50 Km/h which might limit the use while commuting.
Furthermore, DVB-T drains the battery way faster then DVB-H would do and I came
to a constant video playback of exactly 2:01 hours, which nevertheless is good
enough to watch a Soccer game, as long as there is no overtime or
Design-wise, I would like to have an antenna which includes a hinge to optimize
the antenna position. Furthermore, the DVB-T player is somewhat a little bit too
basic since it neither provides a channel list you can select a channel from and
also doesn't shows channel information or an EPG which is broadcasted with the
DVB-T signal anyway. But I definitely hope, that Giga-Byte might provide an
update later anyway. If these three missing features would be added, the DVB-T
client and watching experience would be nearly perfect for me.
All together, I can say that the Giga-Byte GSmart t600 is a great smartphone
which does, what it was designed for, great. It's easy to use, feature rich and
well designed. It feels rocking-solid and neither looks cheap or fragile and at
the moment, during the EURO 2008, it's my permanent follower.
The GSmart t600 is available across Europe from different carriers. For
Neuf Cegetel carries it in France and
Vodafone carries it in Germany as well as it was already
released late last year in Russia.
Cheers ~ Arne