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Short review of GIGABYTE g-Smart i128 communicator
GIGABYTE Communications is making first steps on the market of Windows Mobile-based communicators. Despite being a newcomer to the market and lacking experience, the manufacturer already has great products and announcements – the first and the only communicator with the analog TV-receiver, the first VGA-communicator. The cooperation with operators pays off for GIGABYTE as well - O2 XDA Stealth is GIGABYTE g-Smart packing its filling into the operator’s custom casing (revamped, different materials used, set of additional operator’s applications).
GIGABYTE has chosen the way its competitors picked earlier - to release updated models with minor differences in specs compared to the original proposals. The manufacturer devotes little resources to the development – it improves one or two features (usually larger memory size and new wireless adapter version), adds new index and packs it with a new standard kit. Thus the company does almost nothing and gets a “new” model. On top of that it doesn’t have to alter the box – only apply new sticker.
As you see, GIGABYTE g-Smart is a slightly upgraded edition of GIGABYTE g-Smart i, which we’ve already reviewed. So here we will just focus on innovations and the moments skipped in the previous articles. You can find the rest in the following reviews.
The employees of GIGABYTE Communications, especially the marketing department, will have to learn the term Guideline. The document describes the rules to apply the logo and the name to the devices, any inside or outside documentation, including official sites; for example, the Guideline for the new HTC logo is a detailed 37-pages document.
So far we have a feeling that the company is playing the game “who will write gSmart in many possible ways”. Initially the name was written in joint way “gSmart” (the logo with the uppercase green “G” implies the joint spelling, other letters are lowercase). Now we often meet the spelling “g-Smart” in press releases and news blocks. The official site offers (to choose?) up to five spelling variants: GSMart, Gsmart, g-Smart, g-smart, gSmart. We can see this variety in press releases, in product descriptions, so we can’t refer it to a careless mistake of the Web-designer. The professional designer engaged in corporate style design might have a heart attack at seeing this. There is another interesting story dealing with the spelling of the trademark GIGABYTE, I’d say that the official name of the company is GIGA-BYTE Communications.
No doubt that the mess with the spelling doesn’t affect the quality of the product, this is just the sign that the company is young and inexperienced. A big manufacturer with strong position on the market won’t let it happen.
The communicator has a rich sales package, as far as I can remember, this is the first such communicator. See the list opening this review (it doesn’t specify a storage card, it depends on the region, this is a 256 MB miniSD card by default). Besides the set of additional programs is also rich. Let’s speak about standard accessories from the kit, which we haven’t mentioned before.
With the headphones adapter you can plug your 3.5-mm headphones. This is the major plus, however there are two minuses. Firstly, the sound in the headphones is very quiet, even if you are in absolute silence and switched the sound volume to the maximum. I don’t speak about listening to the music in the underground or walking by a noisy street. Secondly, there is no integrated microphone in the adapter, so you’ll have to remove the headphones to talk.
While unpacking the antenna adapter (indoor or outdoor aerial), I had an instant moment of dreaming. My imagination drew plenty of channels, high definition of the picture and so on. The first search with the outdoor antenna resulted in my first disappointment – the device found just one channel “Sport”. I watched for a while a football match and changed some settings (I chose the widest band instead of the settings for Russia) and found 8 channels. By the way the picture definition was far from being crystal, and the ordinary TV set found more channels. Alas, I expected the miracle with the outdoor aerial, but it hasn’t come true.
The extended battery ensures up to 3.5 days of work on a low load (20 minutes of calls, about 10 text messages, one hour of other functions use). If you use the device actively, it will be good for 1.5-2 days. This is quite typical result for a Windows Mobile communicator.
The key hardware improvement concerns larger ROM size. Now the device carries 128 MB ROM onboard, that’s why it got the index i128. Now the user can make use of 117.29 MB to store data. Let’s examine the current prices for miniSD flash memory and estimate this update. The wholesale price (FOB, Taiwan) for a 128 MB miniSD card with the adapter in the kit makes up $5.6, i.e. extra 64 MB cost less than $2.8 – a half percent of the retail price for the communicator. Is it worth going for that, taking into account that the prices for miniSD cards are very low? I’d answer yes. If we have a look at Spb Benchmark results, we’ll see that the file system speed running on a new chip is 2.53 times higher, and on the face of it the device works much faster.
We tested a commercial edition of the communicator, so we applied strict requirements to its performance. Regrettable, we can’t say the device works flawlessly all the time. Without additional programs I’d had to make a soft reset once a day, several times the network signal was lost. Let’s hope the state of affairs is getting improved with the upcoming firmwares. The localization is provided by Microsoft with all the ensuing consequences.
All in all the i128 brings to the table a minor update of GIGABYTE g-Smart i and larger memory bank. We can’t say that the first attempt failed. The device stands out owing to its design, good functionality, TV- and FM-receivers, and awesome sales package. As for the flaws, they are the small display, unstable operation, quiet sound in the headphones and missing EDGE.
Anton Kotov (email@example.com)
Translated by Anja Rytchkova (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published 24 November 2006
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