Toshiba Portege G900 review: PC in your pocket
Surfing around with Opera
The G900 comes with the Internet Explorer Mobile web browser. It falls behind most of the third-party browsers out there and probably this is the reason why Toshiba ships this device with an alternative web browser preinstalled - the Opera Mini.
The Internet Explorer has several view options. You can have it fit the text to the screen, show everything in one column or show the website as it is. Landscape mode and fullscreen mode are also available. Probably the greatest appeal of the high-res screen is the ability to comfortably browse web pages or work on Office documents. However none of the zoom levels of the Internet Explorer Mobile were able to satisfy us. To fit the whole page you need to zoom out which makes the web text unreadable, while if you zoom in you have to use the vertical and horizontal scrollbar a lot (which by the way are pretty tiny and require stylus).
Your mobile office
Windows Mobile offers several time-management features and all of them are easily syncable with MS Outlook. The Calendar is improved in comparison to the one used in Windows Mobile 5, as now it allows searching for events to come. It offers daily, weekly and monthly view. You can have the week start on either Monday or Sunday. You can also hide weekends form the Calendar if you use it for business purposes only.
The To-Do list allows you to add tasks and assign them priority. The Notes also come in handy, as you can either type or handwrite directly on the screen. The Voice recorder files also get saved to the notes folder.
The Alarm clock has three alarm slots. Each Alarm can have its own repeat pattern. As a frequently used feature, Microsoft should have put more effort into making the alarm clock easily accessible. Instead, it's buried deep down in the Settings menu. Alongside, you will also find the dual-zone clock. The Calculator is another well-known application (as ugly as it gets), which is among the few things in Windows Mobile intended for stylus-free usage.
Among the other interesting applications that come with the Toshiba G900 are the Office Mobile, the Picsel Viewer, the ZIP manager, the Windows Live service, the Search application, the TIPtalk and, finally, the Fingerprint Launcher. The Office Mobile features support for viewing and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint office files. The Picsel Viewer 1.0 is a universal tool that opens various types of files. It can open Adobe PDF files and it works really fast - at least several times faster than on UIQ smartphones for example.
The Search application is quite useful, as it searches throughout the whole file system and applications. You can set filters, so that the application searches only in places you need.
|The Fingerprint Launcher makes use of the integrated fingerprint scannerand allows you to control the G900. Sliding your finger across will scroll the interface plus you can set it to start an application of your choice depending on which of the ten (usually!) fingers you touch it with.|
Windows Mobile 6 integrates Windows Live, which replaces the MSN search and messenger, which we know from previous versions. You can also download the application Live Search for free, that works great with or without Bluetooth GPS receiver. With it you can find information on local businesses, restaurants, places of interest and even gas prices (the service is currently available only to US and UK). It has nice support for speaker-independent voice recognition that you can use to do your searches.
The TIPtalk is an application preinstalled by Toshiba to allow you to make VoIP phone calls.
The Fingerprint Launcher is an intriguing application of the Toshiba G900. It makes use of the integrated fingerprint scanner. Besides security, which is the obvious application of the scanner, it also gives you the option to control your device with the scanner. Sliding your finger across it will scroll the interface plus you can set it to start an application of your choice depending on which of the ten (usually!) fingers you touch it with. In order to set that feature you have to slide each finger through the scanner three times. Our test unit hanged each time we tried that exercise so finally, we let it go.
A Windows Mobile device is a rather versatile gaming platform thanks to the widely-available third-party games. Beside Java, you also get the games developed natively for Windows Mobile. However, manufacturers usually go the more conservative route and ship their devices with only the default Windows Mobile games: Bubble Breaker and Solitaire, none of which is that amusing. When it comes to games the Toshiba G900 has a really serious flaw - most of the games tested in the community (including some applications, too) cannot make use of the front hardware keys under the display. Users have failed remapping those keys to control games and applications - it has something to do with the G900 hardware key setup.
The Toshiba G900 packs in some nice technical specs, the 3-inch WVGA display and comfortable hardware keyboard probably the highlights of it all. However, we found one too many disadvantages to recommend it wholeheartedly. It has somewhat slow performance, despite the 520 MHz processor (maybe because there is no integrated graphics chip), it's highly unpocketable and has cheapish looks, the battery life was a letdown, and the USB host and fingerprint scan functionality are dodgy. Even the display has its drawbacks, as it's hardly legible under direct sunlight.
On top of all that, the official launch of the Toshiba Portege G900 was plagued by the numerous bugs that were later on remedied by a software update. Still, some of those remained and G900 users are impatiently waiting for the next update. Of course, not all devices are affected so, generally, if you are off buying one you should most definitely look for devices that come with the latest ROM available. More information on that can be found on G900 online user communities. Pay them a visit before you head to the store.