Back in 2007, Gigabyte, better known as computer hardware manufacturer, enter the phone market. Since then they’ve been releasing about six devices each year, most of them going by unnoticed by the media. The only Gigabyte device we have had change to review was the T600
, which was model from 2007. At the MWC, Gigabyte showcased two new devices, part of their 2009 line.
GIGA-BYTE GSmart S1200
The S1200 is the more interesting one as is personalized with AdobeFlash user interface. The device will originally launch with WindowsMobile 6.1 but is capable to support 6.5 as well. The home screen showsa large clock with the current weather information, the number ofmissed call, SMS messages and new e-mails at the bottom, plus the “?”which shows you a diagram of the functionality. The problem here isthat it is shown for a very short period of time and cannot serve itsprimary role, which is to help the user find where the functionality hewants is located.
Keep in mind again, that the software is really early alpha release, and a lot of the things we tried did not work properly or at all.
So think about the home screen as the center of the UI. Swiping finger from right to left will bring up the menu which stands to the right of the center, which is the Programs. Swiping finger from top to the bottom will bring My Favorites menu, which is situated to the north of the center. So, all the menus are positioned around the center home screen and are – Programs (east of the center), Smart Viewer (north-east), My Favorites (north), Smart Player (northwest), Setting (west), Smart Calendar (southwest), Phone (south) and Smart Browser (southeast).
The main issue here will be the large learning curve associated withmemorizing where each menu is. Most owners of BMW have very similarexperience with the company’s iDrive control system, which takes peoplea while to get used to, but once they learn it, it is extremely easy touse. We feel the same way about the Smart Zone UI – once accustomed toit; it should be a breeze to use.
Once the Phone menu is opened, displayed are the several options available – Speed Dial, Call History, Contacts and Call Settings. Each option has a very beautiful icon which is completely black and white. We really would have liked to see some colors in here. A small arrow at the top of the screen shows to which direction to swipe your finger to return back to the main menu.
It seems Gigabyte’s strategy will be to fully personalize the whole WM interface. As this is not a small task (not even HTC has done it so far), they will start releasing devices with whatever they have done so far, and continue to develop their Smart Zone UI along the way. So far, it seems like Gigabyte has slightly deeper level of personalization compared to HTC’s TouchFlo 3D. Still a lot of menus still rely on the standard WM UI – music player and calendar to name a few. A very cool is the image viewer, where the images seem like flowing in the space and tapping on one zooms it in.
The first device to run the new Smart Zone UI will be the S1200. Aquick glimpse reveals its complete departure from the designs we areused to see from Gigabyte. It is very light, with a metal trim aroundthe corners and is considerable smaller compared to for example theSamsung Omnia. The construction seems very good with really nice andbright display. As it is WM 6.5 capable, the minimum three buttons arepresent here. Smaller does not mean with less features – Gigabytemanaged to jam in 3.1
inch display with WVGA (800x480) pixelsresolution, quad-band GSM with only single band Euopean/Asian 3G and3-megapixel camera.
Our overall impressions from the flash based UI are positive. Even though the menu structure seems somewhat confusing at first, after a few days of usage should be enough to get accustomed to it. We hope the next level of the Smart Zone UI will offer even deeper customization.
GIGA-BYTE GSmart MS820
The second new device showcased at the MWC is the GSmart MS820 and unlike the S1200, it will run Gigabyte’s older UI. In is widget-like based menu, with limited customization. The home screen can either show a calendar, an image viewer, a music player or a phonebook plug-in. At the boom of the screen are positioned several shortcuts to other functionality.
The design language is similar to the older Gigabyte models with not so rounded corners. The size is larger compared to the S1200, but still decent for such a device with OK build-quality.