Toshiba TG01 in-depth review -

Look and feel

A good looking device with a minimalist design and an attractive WVGA touch-screen that dominates the front of the handset.

Ease of use

The TG01 is seriously lacking in terms of usability, with a clunky user interface, an unresponsive touch-screen and oversights in hardware finish.

Features

Tohiba’s device is lacking any kind of standout feature and setting up new applications is a long-winded process. It fails to compete with other hero handsets, most of which are far superior in terms of features.

Performance

The TG01 is able to find and connect to Wi-Fi hotspots quickly, but the overall internet experience was glitch-ridden and the touch-screen’s lack of responsiveness was incredibly frustrating.

Battery life

On the plus side, battery life was above average.

The verdict

A highly disappointing release from Toshiba, especially considering the hype surrounding its launch. It might look nice, but there’s not much else on offer.

 Toshiba TG01 Review -
2

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:55:51 PM

4

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

4

out of 5

Ease of use

4

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Slim good looks, sizeable screen for comfortable web browsing, high degree of customisation in home screen

Cons:

Lag-ridden touch-screen, clunky user interface, mediocre multimedia features

Toshiba isn’t a major player in mobile, and it doesn't seem the TG01 will change that . The super-slim smartphone was one of the most hyped phones in the early half of 2009, with a processor twice as fast as most, the largest WVGA display around and claims that it would be the gaming and internet phone to end all.

Unfortunately, it falls short of expectations on almost every front and runs on a lag-ridden, rather ugly user interface, which is a pity, because its sleek, matt chassis is at least quite good looking.

Look and feel

A 4.1-inch high-resolution touch-screen dominates almost the entire front, with nary a hard button in sight – just two touch areas for Home and Back, and a touch-bar for zooming. Power, volume and camera buttons discreetly line its 9.9mm side, and on first impressions, the TG01 is a lovely machine that while on the large side, has an incredible, high-design aesthetic.

Too bad then, about the user interface – Toshiba’s custom skin, in contrast to interfaces such as HTC’s TouchFlo 3D, actually makes the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system even clunkier.

As the phone is an Orange exclusive, you can choose between an Orange home screen with a menu toolbar running down one side, or the Toshiba home screen, which has the same menu icons divided into nine panels – Applications, Phone, Tools etc. It’s not very intuitive – Contacts for example, was preset in both Applications and Phone – but you can customise both the order in which the panels are arranged and the exact menu icons in every panel, which is probably the best feature the phone has to offer.

Three panels display at any time, or you can scroll through the lot by swiping across the screen, an exercise ridden with lags. The screens often stutter when ‘flipping’, and the power of the phone’s 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor is certainly not evident here.

When you tap on an icon, it expands into a pixelated, over-enlarged version, as if someone forgot to install the high-res design file. It’s a minor but noticeable glitch that becomes near infuriating in conjunction with other oversights, such as the fact that coming out of keylock takes a full second, the back cover was virtually impossible to pry off, and an LED constantly flashes to indicate phone status.

Nor does the accelerometer work perfectly – the phone generally takes a couple of seconds to reorient, and we noticed that the motion control feature is now missing from the demo racing game, Need for Speed, something that was included when the handset was originally announced.

The touch-screen is of the pressure-sensitive resistive type, so no iPhone-esque feather swipes here. In fact, it’s incredibly slow and fails to keep up with speedy typing, so texting and emailing is extremely frustrating. This is compounded by an inefficient keyboard that puts symbols/numbers in a separate screen from alphabet keys, with no option to hold-and-press for those characters.

 

On the plus side, it is very accurate, and we experienced almost no errors when web browsing – even though the phone can’t zoom in far enough to feel like there is sufficient space between hyperlinks, our chubby digits always hit the intended spot.

Web

The TG01 comes preloaded with Internet Explorer 6 – a very mediocre mobile browser that doesn’t even have a search bar. We downloaded the superior Opera Mini, which provided a much smoother browsing experience – search bar, resizing and all.

When we tried to enter full screen mode the phone froze, and we ended up with half the screen loaded, the other half not. This wasn’t a one-off – while in Facebook, we turned the phone from landscape to portrait, and got a screen with half the page displayed upside down.

Zooming is accomplished via a dedicated touch-bar at the base of the screen, but there’s a noticeable lag between touch and action, resulting in a jerky zoom that just barely magnifies pages to readable levels. Conversely, you can zoom out to make a page absolutely tiny.

We were also disappointed by the webpage rendering – edges of text and pictures looked pixelated, a shame on the gorgeous WVGA display.

 

As well, going in via Orange homescreen means you are automatically routed via the Orangeworld homepage, and we often got messages saying certain pages could only be accessed from an Orange phone (like the Toshiba TG01, so - huh?). This can be circumvented however, by directly typing in your desired URL.

On the plus side, the phone does find and connect to local Wi-Fi hotspots very quickly, and when we were setting up email accounts it was able to download automatic settings for popular webmail such as Gmail and Hotmail.

The TG01 runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 so it also supports Microsoft Exchange push-email. In fact, the phone would work perfectly in conjunction with Microsoft Outlook for data, contacts, calendar etc, but thanks to its underperformance when composing messages, this wouldn’t make it onto any list of business devices.

Multimedia

Despite its initial position as a media super-phone, the TG01 doesn't perform well in the multimedia arena – camera, movies, gaming.

Its three-megapixel camera has auto-focus, but no flash, no options to adjust any settings besides resolution, and no photo modes such as night or action. Editing options are similarly limited – crop, rotate or auto-correct only – and after you take a picture, you can’t even edit it from the screen. Instead, you have to enter the gallery and select the photo to view the editing menu.

We were particularly disappointed by the gaming experience which looked nowhere near as impressive as you would expect from a high-resolution WVGA screen backed by a fast, powerful 1GHz chip. Instead, gaming screens were pixelated.

 

Movies and pictures were more impressive fortunately - and here that 4.1-inch display did stand up to the quality of fellow high-res handsets like the Samsung i8910 HD or LG’s Viewty Smart.

Applications for Windows Mobile number in the thousands, but because its app store isn’t up and running yet, finding a quality one is tricky. The Toshiba TG01 compounds any frustration by over-complicating the process of accessing your new app. Downloading and installing the file is straightforward enough. But to get it as a shortcut on the home screen and in one of your nine panels, you have to manually move it from the Programs folder where all apps are housed and move it into the Applications menu before you can add it to the home screen. 

Finally, in the straw that broke our camel’s back, the TG01 lacks a 3.5mm audio jack (though it does come with an adaptor for its mini-USB port).

Conclusion

The TG01 falls far below today’s smartphone standards. Its user interface looks dated and isn’t very intuitive. Rough edges like low-res menu icons could be overlooked, but not when there are also glaring inadequacies in the user interface and touch-screen. This phone looks great, and indeed may have been tolerated three years ago, but considering the power, smoothness and sheer good looks of hero handsets from companies like LG, Samsung, Nokia and HTC, the TG01 fails to deliver.