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Windows Mobile at MWC – what’s new from HTC, Toshiba and E-Ten
Perhaps, Windows Mobile phone makers weren’t as active at the MWC, as many had hoped – Microsoft didn’t get to showcase WM 6.1, while HTC amused the crowd with nothing but one newsworthy announcement. Nonetheless, many makers rolled out some interesting products at the MWC – let’s see what those were…
Probably many were waiting some sort of a revelation from HTC, for in truth they have’t been in the spotlight over the last couple of months. Maybe it was due to HTC’s internal challenges and struggles or affairs with Sony Ericsson and Google. One way or another, they unveiled only one new model at the MWC - HTC P3470, formerly known as the Pharos. Also they announced some updates to the line-up of already existing products, but those weren’t all that exciting.
The HTC P3470 comes in as the maker’s entry-level solution second to the P3400. What is more, unlike the P3400 that was more of a feeler for HTC that probed the prospects of the lower end of the market, the new offering aims at the habitual niche. For starters, let’s see what its spec sheet looks like:
Essentially, this handset is a follow up to the HTC P3300, barring the omission of Wi-Fi. And that’s where it gets tricky. It is natural to conclude that the company has divided the segment the HTC P3300 occupies up into two categories – entry-level, which the P3470 falls into, and high-end, represented by the Touch Cruise. But in reality, things stand somewhat differently. Presenting the P3470 as a budget solution, HTC brings it as a direct replacement for the P3300 for the average consumer. The thing is, most owners of the P3300 who got their units in 2007, there are very few individuals that actually crave for Wi-Fi connectivity; realistically, they may not even make 5-10% of the entire P3300 user base.
The HTC P3470 will arrive in the market with a pretty much P3300-esque price tag, while packing all software gimmicks and enhancements of the Touch series, except for the cube, plus superb quality of build and materials, and an overhauled design. No hint at it being an entry-level solution. Lifting the veil of mystery a little, we can say that the tweaks they introduced with the handset’s software make some difference – the OS runs reasonably fast with only a 200 MHz CPU inside. Although the 128 Mb of RAM contribute to the device’s overall speediness too.
On balance, the P3470 is more than an adequate replacement for the HTC P3300 designed with all latest trends and market requirements in mind. But also mind the fact that we are talking about a segment where Wi-Fi connectivity is not all that crucial and most users aren’t concerned about RAM size or CPU. And after our first hands-on session with the communicator, we can say almost for sure that HTC is spot-on with the P3470. We’ll get to know it closer as soon it debuts on the market, but, probably, much sooner than that since we already have a test unit in our mitts. And as far as the HTC Touch Cruise is concerned, as things stands today, it becomes a thumbboard-less alternative to the TyTN II – HTC’s premium segment.
Let us be frank with you, the company hasn’t been doing outstandingly well on the front of Windows Mobile devices. Its G900 had been a late call on the European market, but in return they came up with a bunch of new devices at the Mobile World Congress.
The Toshiba Portege G710 is a smartphone representing the class of so-called Blackberry-esque solutions. Another parallel you can think of is Palm’s latest Treo line-up. This smartphone comes housed in the candy-bar type design with a QWERTY keyboard and runs Windows Mobile 6 Standard.
Spec-wise it is looks much like conventional Windows Mobile smartphones along the lines of the i-Mate JAQ3, Orsio p745, trumps them with its bundled GPS, and suffers from the lack of Wi-Fi.
The smartphone’s price is yet to be determined, however an adequate price tag for the G710 would be 480-500 USD, otherwise it is going to get lost among entry-level communicators with higher functionality.
The most interesting offering is the Toshiba Portege G910 that employs the folder type form-factor, reminding of the Qtek 9000 and the likes, as well as the contemporary Nokia E90. The device sports a widescreen W-VGA display, inbuilt GPS and runs on the Qualcomm MSM7200 platform.
The phone is newsworthy for its design – part of its plates is made of plastic, and part – of plastic mimicking leather. Judging by the first snaps picturing the device, it boasts a convenient QWERTY keypad, although the G910’s 3-inch display appears to be on the smaller side compared to its dimensions. Apart from the above features, the G910 comes included with a finger print scanner, which is a common thing among Toshiba’s communicators these days.
The Toshiba Portege G810 that was rolled out on the second day of the MWC seems to be the maker’s most intriguing Windows Mobile powered device. As its spec sheet tells us, the G810 is an indirect rival to HTC’s Touch Series. The Portege G810 can tap into both 2G and 3G networks, comes bundled with GPS, 3 Mpix camera with autofocus and even FM-radio – long story short, it has all it takes to take on the Touch Cruise and other members of this range. ON top of that, the G810 sports an interesting, yet somewhat odd design (subjectively, it is more on the slovenly side).
Nevertheless, the G810 has some potential to its name, and if it manages to make it to the market in the near future (in a couple of months), then with a proper marketing and promotion it will book a nice upswing in sales for the company in this segment.
While our bottom line on Toshiba may look way too picky, facts are facts: Toshiba’s new communicators and smartphones for the most part are offerings from yesterday. By the end of 2007 even smaller makers like E-Ten or Mio came to realize that the path when new models come only with bigger displays and faster CPUs leads to nowhere. Today we are witnessing the situation when all more or less known WM manufacturers are setting out to bring something new to the table – Mio runs with the strategy of mimicking Apple’s product, and E-Ten focuses on foraying the market occupied by the HTC Touch. In its turn, Gigabyte has picked probably the easiest, but as a rule the most effective short-term strategy of cutting prices and rolling out affordable solutions.
Toshiba has faith in its own ability and the power of the company’s brand and its product ranges, like “Portege”. Obviously, it is good to have hope, but as the “success” of the Toshiba G500 and G900 indicates, the way of churning out behemoths of a phone even as far as Windows Mobile goes, is no longer bankable, although this industry was characterized by this paradigm some time ago. The first sign of the changes to come is already here, disguised as the Portege G810; the question is, whether the company is ready to run with such devices and how the G810 will turn out in the end. But as of today, it is a really interesting and promising offering.
The Glofiish V900 has been all the rage lately – I can’t think of an enthusiast or a professional that hasn’t said a word about it. That’s why going over the V900 one more time doesn’t make much sense. At the Mobile World Congress they only showcased their brand-new TouchFLO-like interface with the V900. It is a bit too early to make conclusions on this software, but from what we saw, it isn’t not all sunshine and rainbows – why they demoed tended to be sluggish, occasionally froze up and wasn’t very responsive at that. The looks of this add-on is also questionable – at this stage of development it is too toyish. But we will reserve our final judgment until we get our hands on the final version of the software shell of first working units that would allow us to come up with a more profound verdict.
E-Ten also demoed they thumbboard-enabled Glofiish M810, which is similar to the M800 in many ways, but still manages to take a few steps away from it. That is, the Â Glofiish M810 comes armed with a conventional navigation cluster (unlike the M800’s touch-sensitive buttons), and a different QWERTY keyboard, in fact it enjoys a single-slab design with all buttons engraved on it; curiously, you feel every press as if it was made with separate mechanical buttons.
Spec-wise, the M810 improves upon the M800’s screen coming with a QVGA display.
This phone is definitely worth a glance, plus since side-slider communicators aren’t abundant on the market these days (with the GPS-enabled HTC TyTN II, and the Toshiba G900 that has no GPS onboard), E-Ten is doing the right thing by delivering an extra offering into this segment. On the other hand, the M810’s price tag is quite hefty, and probably either the M800 or M810 are going to get a cheaper lower-end alternative.
Published 21 February 2008
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