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REVIEW: Toshiba Portégé G500 Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone
Posted by Arne Hess - on Monday, 06.08.07 - 13:53:17 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 36208x
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When Toshiba announced its new line of Windows Mobile smartphones back in February, it caught some attention since Toshiba was somehow not to active in the Windows Mobile space during the past years. And Toshiba not just announced a Pocket PC but a touch screen-less smartphone as well, The Toshiba Portégé G500. Sporting Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone only Toshiba's first Windows Mobile smartphone features a, for Windows Mobile Smartphones, unique slider design. Furthermore it features triband GSM/GPRS/EDGE (no GSM 850 MHz support) and singleband UMTS/HSDPA (2100 MHz only) as well as WiFi b/g and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR .

The 2.3" QVGA (non touch screen) display supports the Windows Mobile typical 65k colors. In addition it features two cameras - the main camera on the back which supports 2 megapixel and a front facing QVGA camera on the front which is used for UMTS video-telephony. The Portégé G500 provides a unique and enhanced level of security through fingerprint recognition. The fingerprint sensor can also be used to navigate the phone's menu and to lock the device. Last but not least, the device measures 96 x 49 x 22.9 mm and weights 135 gram.

I've received a test device a couple of weeks ago and was using it quite extensive during the past weeks. The device sports a rocking solid grey black housing, nothing gnash's and if closed, you only see - slider-design typical - the function keys:

As soon as opened, the device unveils the phone keypad which is nicely designed and shaped:

On the back, the device features the previously mentioned 2 megapixel camera which can be used opened and closed:

If the slider is opened, the device also unveils the finger print reader on the top:

Unfortunately (and somehow untypical for Japanese mobile phones), the G500 is quite thick:

And while it is too thick to be carried in the shirt pocket, it holds nicely in the palm:

As initially said, the Toshiba Portégé G500 features Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone only and therefore, the G500 is Toshiba's first Windows Mobile Smartphone. While Toshiba has some real experiences in mobile phones, the Japanese high-tech company sells most of its (non-Windows Mobile) phone in Japan. Nevertheless, Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone is outdated already and interesting enough, the G500 was announced during the same event Microsoft announced Windows Mobile 6.

While Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone isn't too bad at all, it's always a tough decision to buy something which is outdated already and Toshiba hasn't announced any plans to release a Windows Mobile 6 Standard upgrade - unfortunately.

Nevertheless, Toshiba added a good amount of 3rd party applications to the device to make it even more useful:

Most interesting are Finger Launcher, Gold Key, Opera Browser, Picsel Viewer, Teleport and TIPtalk. While most of you might be aware of the Opera Browser (which replaces the also installed Internet Explorer Mobile) and Picsel Viewer (which lets you open and read Microsoft Office as well as Adobe PDF files), the other applications are pretty unique.
Finger Launcher, as you might expect, is a utility control the finger print reader:

First you need to get a finger enrolled which you have to do by swiping the finger three times:

After is is enrolled successfully, you can assign an application to this finger you can launch after, by just swiping your finger:

Finger Launcher is a nice little utility to give the finger print reader even more use beside unlocking the device only or using the finger print reader for navigating through the menu and applications only.

GoldKey is a quite useful and interesting application and so far, I've seen something similar on Apple Mac's in combination with Ericsson phones only. GoldKey lets you lock and unlock your PC, straight from the G500. It contains an application which you need to install on your PC. After, you have to pair your G500 with your PC over Bluetooth and run the GoldKey wizard:

If successfully registered, you can unlock you PC from your device by simply pressing an assigned key. To unlock your PC again, without entering your user account password, you simply press the same key again and the PC is unlocked. If this could be automated even further (for instance if you leaving/entering the Bluetooth range of the PC), this would be even more useful but I have to admit that I'm a big fan of such small and unique applications, especially if they bridge the Windows and Windows Mobile world.

Next is Teleport which is an application which enabled you to use tow functions: Remote Keypad and Remote Screen:

With Remote Keypad you can scroll a PC application, displayed on the PC screen using your G500; for instance remote controlling a PowerPoint presentation.
With Remote Screen, you can replicate the display of your Toshiba phone on a PC screen and control your G500 from the PC. Using the PC keyboard and Remote Screen, actions on the PC are relayed to the Smartphone.
Like GoldKey, also Teleport includes a PC application which has to be installed on the PC first.

TIPtalk is a VoIP and instant messaging application which lets you call an IP phone, use answering machine functions, check onlike status of contacts (similar to Windows Live Messenger and other IM services) and even chat with contacts:

Getting Tiptalk working requires you to configure the application by adding a user name, a password and a server.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find out which server to use/how to set-up such a server so I wasn't able to test it at all.

The fixed focus 2 megapixel camera makes photos up to 1600 x 1200 pixel and record videos up to 320 x 240 pixel. In addition, to support the camera in darker environment, it also includes a while LED which is somehow usable for "macro shots" only (please click the photos bellow to get the unedited full size):

While the camera might be good enough for some quick snapshots, which you might want to post on a website, the quality is not really sufficient enough to make prints of it.

Final Conclusion

Well, quite frankly - I have some mixed feelings about the device. While I appreciated that Toshiba reentered the Windows Mobile space and even released its first Windows Mobile Smartphone, I'm somehow disappointed that this Smartphone is running a outdated version of Windows Mobile, namely 5.0 for Smartphone instead of 6 Standard.
Especially because the device is otherwise well equipped and can easily compete with other Windows Mobile UMTS/HSDPA smartphones, like the Samsung SGH-i600, Motorola MOTO Q9 or HTC S630.
I definitely like the slider design, especially because of slide phones are quite popular in some parts of the world and therefore it might makes it a real option for buyers. On the other hand, if you compare it with (non Windows Mobile) slider-phones like the Samsung U600, it's definitely too thick and I don't see a reason why it became that thick at all. While it's well balanced in the hands, it's too thick to be carried in a shirt pocket and "slim is in", latest since Motorola introduced the Razr some years ago, a fact also other manufactures realized.

So no, it's not everybody's every day phone and you have to have some real good use for the features and applications to make the device attractive for you as well. Sure, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS and HSDPA together with Bluetooth and WiFi makes this phone a perfect device for everybody who needs to be connected, but due to the fact that it is triband GSM and singleband UMTS only, and because there is no North American version planned/available, it limits the range of usability to Europe and Asia Pacific only. North American users wont get much fun with the G500.
On the other hand, Toshiba put some very exciting applications into the device, like the handy FingerLaunch and GoldKey which I definitely like; but is it enough to convince you to buy the phone?

I'm not sure, quite frankly it could convince me if it would run at least Windows Mobile 6 but in this case, with Windows Mobile 5.0 only packed in a quite thick housing, it's not convincing me yet.

Anyway, I've also heard some positive feedback about it so as always - it's you choice but it's a tough call. If you don't have/want to be on top of all features, the Toshiba Portégé G500 could be an interesting option. At least the inner values (beside the outdated OS) are state of the art. And, as a phone it works quite great (in 2G and 3G mode with video telephony).

The Toshiba Portégé is available from most Expansys online shops and costs unsubsidized 449,95 Euro.

Cheers ~ Arne

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