Toshiba Portege G900 Review

3
Introduction
We’ve already showed you the G500 which is the smaller brother of the phone we will review here. This is the Toshiba Portege G900, a WM6 Professional phone with huge touch-sensitive displays and all the bells and whistles of that OS.

Many people have complained about the resolution used in most such phones being rather small (QVGA 240x320) as it is the same as of most middle and high end phones nowadays. People expect their hi-end smartphone to have greater technologies implemented and the screen shouldn’t be of low quality. Toshiba are manufacturing Laptops and know that a great display is a must, and in G900 they have implemented such one. The display of the G900 has 800x480 pixels resolution, which makes it stand out of the crowd. It comes as best-in-class and challenges the other manufacturers.

The G900 box includes:

  • Toshiba G900
  • Charger with detachable cable
  • miniUSB cable for PC synchronization
  • USB Host cable
  • Stereo headset


PhoneArena's Toshiba Portege G900 Video Review



Design:

The Portege G900 is a big phone, even when compared to other PocketPC devices on the market. It is just HUGE and the only way to carry it is in a case attached to the belt. Strangely, the manufacturer doesn’t think so, and one is not present in the box. Most of the customers will search for one suitable for the G900 but this is not the easiest job. Here is what eBay says: “0 items found for g900 case“. G900 is still not very popular phone.



Model

Dimension (Inches)

Dimension (MM)

Weight (OZ)

Weight (Gramms)

Toshiba G900

4.68" x 2.40" x 0.84"

119 x 61 x 21.5

7,0

198

Eten X500+

4.44" x 2.34" x 0.61"

113 x 59.5 x 15.5

5,1

146

HTC TyTN

4.4" x 2.3" x 0.86"

112.5 x 58 x 22

6,2

176




Although big, it fits well in the hand and feels very solid thanks to the sturdy construction and the used materials. Similar to other rival models, the G900 has side-sliding mechanism to reveal a QWERTY keyboard. It must be opened either with two hands (at the two ends) or at the middle. If you press only at the one side, it won’t move. The mechanism is spring-assisted and moves rather easily.

The keyboard is a 4-row QWERTY with pretty big rectangular keys, tightly fit next to each other without any space. The main characters are illuminated in white and the alternative ones in green but unfortunately the backlight goes off in just 4 seconds of inactivity. This time-out cannot be changed and brings inconvenience when you work with the phone’s keyboard. The keys are pretty big compared to anything on the market and only the Space button should be an idea bigger. They press slightly hard but still with no problems and only some people have problems with the top row, touching the upper slider with their fingers.


The numeric keys are as alternative characters in the right part of the keyboard. They are marked in green and in order to be activated one must press the green dot key (bottom-left angle). The inconvenience is that you cannot turn “Alternative mode on” and if you want to type ONLY numbers, you cannot double-press (for example) the alt key and than all the numbers but have to press the alt key before pressing each number.

The other keyboard is the one on the upper shell, below the display. Standard for this type of phones, here are only the navigation keys. Like in the new HTC phones, the G900 has Windows and OK shortcuts and also two additional for contacts and messaging but they can be personalized. This keyboard has the same backlight as the QWERTY, but the D-pad is not illuminated. Hopefully, it has pretty good relief and is felt easily. Above the display is the shortcut to IE (customizable) on the left and the VGA camera for video calling on the right. The right side has the volume rocker and the camera shortcut, while the left has 2.5mm stereo jack and miniSD slot for memory, both with protective covers.


What truly makes the Toshiba Portege G900 stand out of the crowd is its display. Located on the front is the 3 inch big display. Its size is bigger than the common 2.8 found on most PPC phones, but more interesting is its resolution – 800x480 pixels, which is 5 times more than the QVGA used in almost all PPCs. This gives excellent DPI (dots per inch ratio) and the display shows much more detail than others.

We would have preferred to see a sensor that controls the brightness of the screen but one is not present in the G900. Indoors, medium brightness level is enough to read the screen with no problem, but it is not so when you are in bright environment. In this case you should manually increase the brightness level to maximum to be able to read the display. Set at 100%, it is usable in bright light although it dims, but if the sun directly reflects in it you won’t see anything.

Standard for a WM Professional phone, a Power on/off key is situated on the top to turn off/on the display when you don’t use it. The bottom right corner has the slot for the retractable stylus.




Interface:

As the Toshiba runs on Windows Mobile 6 Professional, its software is almost absolutely identical to other Pocket PC phones. But there is a great difference in the way the OS looks – thanks to the greater resolution, the icons and the images are way different, and it don’t really look like the OS we are used to, but better. Still, the functionality is exactly the same and the display cannot change this.

Therefore you should bear in mind that certain problems and positive features of theirs are valid not only for the phone or make’s models, but for the models using this operating system (WM6 Professional), too.

Phonebook:

The phone book of WM6 is not much different from the phone book of WM5. It has no restriction on the amount of contact that can be added, depends only on the memory available. When you open the phonebook all contacts are displayed as a list; each field consists of the name and the number of the contact, while a letter placed beside them indicates what the type of the number is (w – work; m – mobile, etc.). Pictures are not displayed even if there is one attached to the contact.

The line displayed at the top of the screen is a search field, which starts searching through the names and numbers on entering a symbol – the more symbols you type, the more accurate the match is – it’s quite useful! This one searches all names entered for the contact, but if you want to find by other field like “company” for example, you have to use the “Search” application. There are tabs with different letters (divided in groups of three) just below it. This way you can arrange the contacts so that only the ones beginning with a given letter are displayed. These two search features are quite handy and they make finding a particular contact in the phonebook very quick.

Too bad that’s not the case when adding a new name to the phonebook; the device offers way too many capabilities, including multiple work and home numbers, but there’s only one for mobile –something quite inconvenient as that’s exactly where we wanted to add multiple numbers to. The numerous address, e-mail and other address fields confuse you even further – it would have been a lot easier if the most frequently used fields are highlighted in some way. We would choose this to be done with the Name, Picture, Mobile number and e-mail fields and thus finding them would have been easy, eliminating the need to scroll through the long list.

Personal photos and ringtones can be assigned to each contact; there’s no restriction on the size of the pictures but they are visualized in very small size even on an incoming call – we think they are useless. You can also add a note to each contact.

The problem of WM5 because of which you couldn’t add an unknown number from the call history to an existing contact, is eliminated here.

Dialer:

You can dial a number not included in your contacts by inputting its numbers. This can be done by either bringing up the digital keyboard or by using the physical keyboard. To display this digital keyboard you have to press the green receiver once. When using the physical keyboard, the same display will show and you just have to start dialing the number. You will see information on the last dialed number and you can call it by pressing the green receiver again.

Pressing the buttons you will start imputing the digits of a possible number, but at the same time you will search the phone book as if imputing a text by a predictive text input system. So, to call John you can press 5-6-4-6 and the matching contacts will be visualized in the list.

Organizer:

Alarms can be directly accessed through the home screen, by tapping on the clock. They are three, and they all can be configured to be active for certain days of the week, and you can also assign names and different sounds to each of them. All alarms can be active simultaneously, and overall they are easy to use and do what they are supposed to. We are rather disappointed that their number is limited to three, as it was in the previous version of the OS.

The next tab in this menu is the clock; there is a field called Visiting next to it which can be used as a World Clock – select another location and the phone starts using its local time. The clock has an option to be displayed on the title bar of all the menus, which is handy.

In the phone menu you can find your electronic calendar where you can save your appointments. They have fields for subject, starting/ending time/all day event, location, notes. You can use options like: reminder (PRIOR NOTICE 1/5/10/15/30/45 minutes, 1/2/3/4/5/6 hour/day/week), recurrence (Once, Every (same-day-of-the-week), Day (same-date) of every month, Every (same date-and-month) for every year, sensitivity (normal, personal, private, confidential). You can also add attendees (required or optional) from your contacts where e-mail addresses have been added and where meeting requests will be sent.


Examining the calendar can be done by day/week/month and you can choose starting day for the week and the week duration (5-6-7-day week). The appointments for the day are clearly shown in their time limits, so you can see your free time at a glance. This is one of the new things of WM6 compared to WM5.

Just as the G500, G900 doesn’t support voice commands, but has a fingerprint sensor that can be set to perform an action, based on the finger one uses. This way you can attach shortcuts to your fingers, making up to 10 shortcuts in total. The sensor is located on the back of the upper slider in a concave area in order to easily feel where to put and slide your finger.

Due to the way this sensor works, there is no way to enter “wrong command”. If you slide your (for example) right thumb, it will either perform the command attached to it or do nothing. There is no way the sensor will perform the command for the middle finger for example. If the phone doesn’t react to the sliding finger, then you probably do not do it as you should. We often experienced this, which also is a reason for turning the phone around, to touch the sensor more accurately.

The biggest drawback of the whole finger-controlling mechanism is that the application with the “commands” must be started, before you use the sensor – otherwise the phone won’t detect the touch and will not perform the action.

The system can also be used to lock your phone, as this is a pretty secure method without the need to remember pass codes or phrases.



Messaging:

Different message types are placed in a single menu - SMS, MMS and e-mails. There is nothing unexpected here. If you do not wish to use the built-in keyboard then entering text is done by one of the following touch display methods:

  • Block Recognizer
  • Keyboard
  • Letter Recognizer
  • Transcriber
  • XT9

We think that the on-screen keyboard is the fastest and most convenient way to do it, but if you train the other methods, they can also be quite handy! Combined with the T9 predictive system, entering text with the phone is really quick.

Just a few steps away is the option to add your e-mail account (POP3 or IMAP) and to use it on your mobile phone. Very nice extra is that the phone can try to get the email settings automatically from the internet, and so we configured our Gmail Account by entering only the username and password. Windows Mobile 6 already supports HTML formatted e-mails. The client is very similar to the Outlook on a computer, you can filter your inbox to see just some results, reply to message or forward it to other person. The support for attachments allows you to download or send one, in addition to the text body. The phone can be set to synchronize with your company Exchange Server.

As standard, Windows Mobile comes preloaded with the mobile version of Live! Messenger (MSN). Windows Live account will be added in Messaging when you add your e-mail account.

Connectivity:

Unfortunately, the G900 Portege is a tri-band GSM which means it will not be fully usable in the States, as only one of the 2 domestic GSM bands is supported. For higher speed when it comes to internet over the air, the G900 supports UMTS 3G (HSDPA 3.6mbps) but again only the European/Asian band (2100Mhz) is featured.

Standard for a smartphone of that class, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are available. Bluetooth is mainly used for connecting to other nearby devices, as accessories (earpieces, car-kits, multimedia devices) and for data transfer (transfer of files to/from another phone/PC). The technology helps wireless connection and the data transfer speed we achieved was about 22KBperscond which is quite slow compared to the wire connection by a cable which was 14 times higher – 320 KB meaning that a song in MP3 format with average size of about 5 MB will be uploaded in 16 seconds. Like all other Windows phones, you need to have ActiveSync installed on the computer to connect to it. The program will let you easily synchronize the phone (contacts, emails, organizer) with Outlook.

With WiFi you can connect to a wireless LAN network covering you, use it as an Internet source and view shared folders (input \\name-of-computer in Internet Explorer and you will see what is shared). In our test the connection was 50KB/sec.

Internet:

The mobile version of Internet Explorer is used for internet browsing; loading standard pages in full size is not a problem, and the huge screen resolution allows you to see most of them without scrolling. Browsing on the phone is very similar to as on a computer, instead of as on another phone.


As it is a Pocket PC, you can always use third party software to replace the original one. The G900 even comes with Opera which renders the pages more accurately than the IE.



Camera:

As almost all other phones on the market nowadays, the Portege G900 comes with built-in digital camera. The lens is located on the back in a circular window, where also the flash is hidden. It starts for whole 5 seconds after the (shortcut) button is pressed which is very slow, and shows interface in either portrait or landscape orientation. It can be rotated according to your taste, and unlike the G500 in both cases the text menu will be correctly oriented. The options allow you to choose the white balance (environment) setting or apply color effects. There are 3 levels of compression (quality) and 5 resolutions (sizes) for the pictures, with the biggest being 1600x1200 pixels or total of 2 Megapixels.

3 seconds are needed to save a picture of the highest possible quality which is way better result than the start. The quality of the images is what is expected from that type of camera – the detail is average, the colors have slight purple nuance but are relatively close to the real and the exposure is correct most of the time. Indoors the quality decreases with the reducing of the light, and best results will be obtained in bright room. The phone has a flash, but like almost all LED flashes is not of great benefit.




Multimedia:

Portege is equipped with the standard mobile version of Windows Media Player. It is a multimedia player for music and video files. MP3 format is supported, as well as WMA and WAV. After updating the library with files, all supported types are found, and they can be added to playlists. This function is not well implemented and organizing them is quite hard. Songs can be viewed by artist, album and genre, as these are taken from the ID3 tag of the files.


The supported video formats are MPEG4/H.263, WMV and 3GP, while the quality of the latter is pretty low. They can be viewed in fullscreen but the high-resolution screen shows that the quality of this videos is not enough. Although the processor is not very fast, we are happy that no frames are skipped. Unfortunately you cannot playback video in MPEG 4/H.264 format which gives the best results. We tried to play WMV movie with resolution near to the one of the G900’s display (848x496) but what we got was a frame in a few seconds, not a video. Unfortunately the processor of the G900 cannot play videos that would suit the display as they are big in size.

The options buttons (next/previous, Play/Pause, etc.) are small and inconvenient both during Music and Video playback. When audio files are played, the video visualization window is still displayed, which is a lapse as it only takes up place on your screen. You can have these problems solved by adding new skins for the Media Player or by using another music player.

Although the speaker is located on the back, which is the reason the quality and volume decrease when the phone is put on a table. The speaker isn’t powerful and you will easy miss a call if a song is set as a ringtone and you don’t feel the vibration.

To listen to music we would prefer to use headphones connected to the 2.5mm stereo jack or wireless ones using Bluetooth and A2DP profile.

Software:

The Toshiba G900 has 128MB ROM and 128MB RAM while most other PPC phones have 64 MB ROM. Internal memory capacity can be expanded through the miniSD card slot.

WM for PPC provides unlimited capabilities for installing software. The only restrictions are the memory available and the hardware of the phone. The first problem is easily solved by getting a memory card as there are miniSD cards with capacity of up to several GB. Every WM6 Professional phone comes with programs that are modified, “pocket” versions known PC applications. Such programs are the mobile versions of (Microsoft) Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Explorer, Media Player, etc. The Office applications allow you to view and edit documents of the most-used types and the phone opens them without any error. Even a complicated Excel document with a few sheets is not a problem. Unlike many other PPC phones, the G900 doesn’t come with PDF reader but one can be installed later. Many more programs could be downloaded from third party sources, too as this is a smartphone.

There are numerous programs created for this platform, almost as much as the ones intended for PCs with Windows operating system. The most popular are the various utilities for personalizing the PPC, multimedia players, file explorers, Instant Messengers, etc. You can download third party applications to be used instead of the preloaded ones.

We thought that G900 won’t be able to run most of the applications for this OS, but it is not so. We tried Skype, Agile Messenger, Deepfish and they ran with no problem. A game designed for QVGA and VGA displays opened and used almost the whole screen but we experienced problem with TomTom 6 which didn’t work on the large display.



Performance:

Although the G900 uses pretty fast (on theory) processor running at 512 MHz, it is not very fast in the operations. Opening/closing the slider changes the orientation of the display and in our case this isn’t immediate but takes a few of seconds. We compared it to another WM6 Pro phone, the HTC TyTN, which also has such type of QWERTY and runs on 400MHz Samsung processor, and the TyTN changed the orientations of the display twice faster than the G900.

We used SPB Benchmark to compare the G900's system performance to other PPC phones.

In other aspects, the phone worked well. We put a Skype on it and were able to chat and use the options while a call was present. Most other PPC phones are inoperable while a Skype call is on. The call itself wasn’t that great, as the voices are transmitted through the loudspeaker on the back. The other party hears you relatively clear and with average volume.

During a call, the G900 performs well for the outgoing sound but gets average score for the incoming one. The outgoing sound is very loud and with high quality, slightly sharp but realistic voices. The incoming sound’s volume is below the average, the voices are slightly muffled and with weak high-frequencies but the low volume is bigger problem.

As our G900 was a defective unit, we were not able to test the battery, as the device restarted after a few minutes of continues talk. The manufacturer claims it will last for 4 hours and 20 minutes, but of course this also depends on the other usage. If you use the phone with the display brightness set to maximum this will greatly reduce the battery’s charge.

We are surprised unpleasantly that the signal reception of the G900 is just average. We tested it as any other phone we review in an area with gradually decreasing signal and rated it 5 out of 10. As the phone is pretty massive, we would have liked to see a great antenna and respectively reception, but this is not the case.

Conclusion:

The G900 has its appeal and like any other phone, pros and cons. We aren’t keen on huge phones, even being WM Professional devices but can close our eyes for that when the display is a 3 inch unit with resolution of 800x480 pixels, best in class. It gives huge advantage when it comes to internet browsing or text reading, but unfortunately that’s all. It will also bring inconvenience like slower refresh rate and will not allow you to use all applications on the market, which is ridiculous considering the target group of a WM Professional phone.

If you are seeking WM phone with huge screen resolution one of the few other options is the X500+ which is way smaller, has GPS and is quad-band, but lacks 3G, keyboard and has VGA (640x480) resolution for the display.



Pros

  • High-resolution screen is probably best in class
  • Large QWERTY keyboard

Cons

  • Not all applications work on it
  • Cannot play video that match the screen resolution

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

User Rating:

8.6
1 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless