With the Portege G810, Toshiba is trying to coax smart phone users to go without a trusty stylus. Instead, it wants them to rely on its touch interface that it's grafted on top of G810's Windows Mobile OS. It's a similar tactic to that adopted by HTC with its Touch range of phones -- including the HTC Touch Diamond we recently reviewed -- but can this £360 handset pull off the same trick?
There's been a spate of chunky Windows Mobile devices dropping through our letter box of late, but thankfully, the G810 bucks this trend. Instead, it's a rather petite machine that's only slightly shorter and thicker than the iPhone.
The handset runs the latest version of Microsoft's smart phone OS, Windows Mobile 6.1, so you get some improvements like full page zooming in Internet Explorer and the cleaner Home screen.
However, you won't see much of the latter because you'll be using Toshiba's own touch interface that sits over the top of Window Mobile. It's designed specifically to be used with your fingers rather than a stylus and presents most functions as large, easily-pressed buttons on the phone's 71mm (2.8-inch) touchscreen.
In use, the handset feels pretty sprightly, thanks to the 400MHz Qualcomm MSM7200 processor and with 256MB of ROM and 128MB of RAM, there's a decent amount of storage space on offer. You can increase this all the way up to 4GB if you like by adding cards via the microSD slot on lefthand side of the phone.
Connectivity is excellent too. The phone supports HSDPA up to a maximum speed of 3.6Mbps and it also supports HSUPA, which offers faster upload speeds of up to 2Mbps on networks that support this feature. Naturally, the old stalwarts of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are also included.
Toshiba hasn't forgotten the fun stuff either. The handset is supplied with stereo headphones for listening to tunes either via the phone's media player or the onboard FM tuner. There's also a 3-megapixel camera, complete with LED flash and a micro mirror. It takes quite decent snaps and is backed up by a second VGA resolution camera on the front so you can use the phone to make 3G video calls, if you want.
With the addition of its own touch interface, Toshiba has tried desperately to make Windows Mobile not just more finger friendly, but also more user friendly. It does work in parts as the large, friendly icons are much nicer to work with than the usual Windows Mobile menus. However, the big problem is that you frequently find yourself tapping on a large user-friendly button only to be dumped back into the more usual Windows Mobile interface, which really requires you to fall back on the stylus.
Matters are made worse by the fact that Toshiba has given this phone possibly the worst stylus we've ever come across. It's actually part of the case that clips off, rather than a neat stylus with its own slot. When you unclip it, you'll find that it curves around at the end, making it almost impossible to hold straight, let alone use.
It's not the only problem that afflicts this phone as the handset also suffers from poor battery life. Although it'll run for around eight days in standby, when you start actually making calls on it, the handset gives up the ghost after just 4 hours. That's poor even by smart phone standards.
The G810 is packed full of great technology. It supports HSDPA for speedy downloads, has a decent camera and great connectivity with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, although Toshiba has tried its best to make the Windows Mobile operating system more user friendly with its own touchscreen interface, the result falls between two stools. At the end of day, the G810 simply feels like a phone that's using the wrong OS.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday