Considering this is Toshiba's first attempt at making a Windows Mobile smart phone, it hasn't done too badly -- the Portege G500 has a full range of connectivity options and a really nifty fingerprint scanner on the back. If you need to stay in touch with the office wherever you are, then it's worth considering.
The Toshiba Portege G500 is currently available at eXpansys for about £270.
Compared to a standard mobile phone, the Toshiba Portege G500 is a rather chunky device. Nokia N80 users might not notice any difference in their pockets, but most other people will -- it's like carrying around a big bar of soap.
The G500, however, is slightly more high-tech than a bar of soap. It comes with a relatively large colour screen on the front and slides open to reveal an easy-to-use keypad. The round navigation key and soft keys on the top section are easy to press.
Unusually for a phone, there's a fingerprint scanner on the back, which doubles up as a touchpad for scrolling through emails or Web pages.
We found the fingerprint scanner worked well and provided a quick and secure way of accessing the phone. Using the scanner as a touchpad, however, proved less easy to do, and while it's well placed, the scanner was unfortunately not always very responsive to our finger's movements. In the end we reverted to using the four-way navigation key on the front.
While the G500 is short, stout and a little boring to look at, it compensates by packing loads of features: there's Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and HSDPA (3.5G) connectivity, giving you high-speed Internet, VoIP and video calling access on the go.
We've already mentioned the fingerprint scanner, but another feature on the back of the phone is the 2-megapixel camera. This doesn't have autofocus, and the sensor's resolution is relatively low, so don't expect to take print-quality shots with it, but it's fine to use for stills and video for MMS messages.
There's a secondary 0.3-megapixel (VGA) camera on the front for video calling. Video calls worked as expected and displayed the other person as clearly as is currently possible on most 3G video calling handsets.
The G500 runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 so it can be set up to instantly send and receive emails via Microsoft Exchange. You have the option to view a variety of documents using Picsel viewer or installing a third-party app like Documents To Go. Windows Mobile 5.0 also lets you install third-party maps, dictionaries and other applications.
You can listen to music using the media player, which supports a variety of formats including MP3, AAC, MPEG4 and WMV.
Audio quality during calls wasn't great. There was noticeable feedback and the mic annoyingly picked up every sound, including our fingers touching the casing. The loudspeaker sounded tinny and wasn't particularly audible in loud environments.
On the plus side, data speeds were fast over HSDPA and Wi-Fi, with no noticeable problems. Applications were also smooth to run and we didn't notice any major lags or crashes during the testing period.
Battery life was acceptable and lasted for over two days when we didn't use Wi-Fi or HSDPA, otherwise it only lasted a day. Toshiba quotes it at 290 hours (3G) or 250 hours (GSM) on standby, and 140 mins (3G) or 280 mins (GSM) of talk time.
This isn't the most attractive or the slimmest handset out there but it has a lot going on inside. From the connectivity options to the fingerprint scanner, it's great if you want to stay connected and keep your data secure.
Our only niggles with the G500 are its chunky size, which won't suit everyone, and the audio quality on calls, which isn't great. Those points aside, it's worth checking out if you need email access on the move.
If the G500 doesn't do it for you, similar devices worth considering are the Motorola Q 9 for its HSDPA connectivity and full, easy-to-use keypad, and the BlackBerry Pearl, which is a slim, email-ready handset that has a nifty trackball.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield