Living with the Toshiba Portégé G500
what’s Toshiba’s New Shiny Slider really like to live with? my comprehensive review
Continuing the tradition of reviews based on my real world experiences of handheld devices, thanks to the generosity of Tracy and Matt, I’ve had the chance to test drive the Toshiba Portégé G500 for a week or so.
Toshiba Portégé G500
The G500 is Tosh’s first Windows Mobile Device since the e830 back in September 2004 and represents the first release of a Toshiba device with voice capability since 2002
The G500 runs Windows Mobile 5.0 AKU 3.2, think of this as Windows Mobile 5.5 as it includes Push email, xT9, WPA2 for WiFi, A2DP for enhanced sound quality for Bluetooth headphones and Internet sharing instead of Dial up Networking.
Connectivity wise the G500 supports WLAN (802.11b&g), is quad band including 3G, with HSDPA, GPRS and EDGE. The obligatory camera is a lowly 1.9 Megapixels
Once again the Toshiba has been used in a real business environment, as part of an Exchange 2003 messaging system using exchange activesync, it’s been a complement to my notebook which is unfortunately not a Toshiba (see why later)
At this point I have to say that returning to WM5.0 from my E650 / S710 was a bit of a wrench.
- Finger Print reader: quite an innovative addition, great security measure but somewhat poorly positioned and fussy when registering a finger.
- Stability: not a single hang or crash, no resets in over a week, quite unusual in a WM5.0 pull it apart test
- OS: Windows Mobile 5.0 = bad bad timing
- Applications : the best one (Goldkey) works only with other Toshiba hardware, but you do get the Opera browser
- Finger Launch : great idea but not actually a convenience or a time saver
- Voice Quality: it’s a bit tinny
- Size: frankly it’s a bit big
Toshiba Portégé G500
As I’ve intimated the Form factor is a traditional slider but the Tosh is big, nice looking but big, sliders are traditionally smaller than other devices however even when closed the Tosh is not dissimilar in size to my E650.
Toshiba Portégé G500 vs. Orange E650
The screen is pretty good not quite as big or bright as the E650 but a reasonable size and clear my only criticism would be that the on screen notifications are a bit blocky and appear unsophisticated.
Toshiba Portégé G500 Homescreen
The slide of the slider is quite satisfying and the finish is visually appealing.
But in the hand it feels quite plasticy and I fear might be susceptible to wear.
When I showed my wife the device she expected it to have a hidden keyboard due to its size (she’s been spoilt by the E650) and was a little underwhelmed by the aesthetics so a reasonable pass but no distinction.
The Portégé G500 is quite small compared to other WM 3G devices though so if 3G is your bag then this could be the handset for you.
The hardware buttons on the periphery (power / volume / camera only )- are well located, the volume rocker falls easily under the (right handers) thumb when in a call.
The camera button placement is where you’d expect it to be on a landscape camera.
The front mounted function keys are logically laid out and provide positive tactile feedback when operated, as do the keypad keys beneath the slider. The soft keys in particular are very responsive and a great size.
The SIM slot is hidden beneath the battery and is a git to get a SIM out of, there is an external MicroSD card slot but it’s hidden beneath the back panel, the phone remains powered so hot swapping of SD cards is possible.
The flaps covering the headphone jack and USB port are flush with the casing and traditionally, well, flappy when open secured with a slender piece of plastic.
The G500 has a mini USB port and thankfully a simple 2.5mm headphone jack, which is provided with an adaptor to allow you to use your own choice of phones with the Tosh wired handsfree kit.
Apart for the retrograde step of WM5 the G500 seems pretty zippy to use.
I was worried to see the first section of the manual after the compulsory terms, licenses and trademark acknowledgements the first section details how to reset your device, however this was unfounded as I’ve had no problems at all with hanging or general speed of operation (the G500 has a 416MHz processor and 64Mbytes RAM)
In the week of using it regularly there were no problems with operation either in applications or voice calls
Battery life is good although the quoted 4 1/2 hours / 10 days actually equates to about 2 days realworld usage (3G, GPRS, voice, a little WiFi)
The slider is OK, even though I’m not normally a slider fan this one is quite satisfying, the fingerprint reader is not designed to be used with the same hand holding the device and is actually quite limited in scope apart from great the security use that is.
Applications – it’s all about fingers
The G500 is Windows Mobile 5.0 so there is no Office Mobile, the core Apps should all be familiar to you so I’ll concentrate on the G500 specific applications in particular those associated with the G500’s key feature the fingerprint reader:
Biometric Security: you can unlock the device with a finger through the inbuilt fingerprint reader this is great however it takes a few goes for the finger to register and there’s no indication as to what happens if you fail the verification. The biometric security is probably the single best aspect of the G500 as it reduces time to use from locked and provides a level of security unusual in mobiles.
Finger Launch: on paper this application looks great however it’s fundamentally flawed, the premise is that you can launch an app by registering it to a specific fingerprint.
This is OK for couple of fingers but you soon forget which is which and, can you imagine how awkward it is to launch anything with your little finger.
Finger registration is time consuming and a bit hit and miss
You get to see this screen a lot
and this one
until you see this one
In any case the finger launch app doesn’t run as a matter of course and to launch it you have to navigate past all the apps you are going to launch with your finger – far from saving time it actually increases the time required to launch apps. a sensible compromise would be to be able to launch the finger launch app with a finger, but you can’t do this.
Toshiba Gold Key: this is the most promising application in the Toshiba suite, it’s a Bluetooth proximity lock for your notebook. Goldkey is designed so that when your G500 is in close range of your notebook the notebook is unlocked, when you (well your phone) leaves the area your notebook automatically locks – a great idea.
Unfortunately Goldkey only works with a Toshiba Bluetooth stack so unless you have a Tosh notebook or USB card you aren’t able to make use of this app – shame.
As I’m exclusively HP at the moment I wasn’t able to test this nor it’s affect on battery life.
Toshiba Teleport: teleport requires installation of an application on the desktop and provides two distinct remote control functions over Bluetooth or USB :
- remote keypad
- remote screen
I’m a bit bemused by both these applications.
Keypad allows you to use your phone’s keypad to manipulate your desktop, it’s very limited
and the only viable use I have found is as a remote control for PowerPoint, however it’s too much of a palaver to set it up so I’m not sure I’d bother
remote screen is similar to Soti pocket controller although it only allows you to control your phone from your screen – it is free which is a bonus
Toshiba Portégé G500
Tiptalk: is a VoIP application, unfortunately I don’t have an account so was unable to test this application at all.
Opera Browser: Toshiba have included Opera as well as Internet explorer, tbh I couldn’t see an appreciable difference in performance between Pocket IE and Opera, I suppose it’s a nice addition for an IE hater.
Overall stability is very good, I had no problems with application hangs or voice performance, the Tosh seems very stable, much more so than some other WM5.0 devices I could mention.
Ease of Use
The handset is a bit big and one handed operation could be easier, it’s a bit of a reach from keypad to action buttons with the slider open the fingerprint reader use is counter intuitive you have to hold the handset in your other hand and pull the finger up the phone to make it work.
The Portege G500 is an above average smartphone, however I wouldn’t relinquish either my m3100 or E650 for it, although if I had a Toshiba Notebook that might change my view as the G500 should work well in conjunction with Toshiba’s notebook portfolio.
3G is a welcome addition although somewhat sullied by the size of the device and why Windows Mobile 5.0 Toshiba ? why?
The Toshiba specific applications are good ideas but frankly poorly executed, finger launch has not been thought through at all, Goldkey is a great idea but you must have a Tosh notebook or Tosh Bluetooth device. Teleport …….. what?????
The Fingerprint reader is innovative and may come into its own with additional applications as a security feature it’s great.
In conclusion, the Portege G500 is a reasonable re-entry into the smartphone arena by Toshiba however to get the full benefit of the device it needs to be treated as a Toshiba Laptop companion as which it should be excellent.
Go check out the Toshiba Portégé G500 product page on the eXpansys website.
Review by: Alasdair
[Post tags: smartphone blog, Pocket PC blog, Tracy & Matt, Toshiba Portege G500, Toshiba, Windows Mobile blog]