Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
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Qtek G100 navigation PDA or HTC Galaxy platform
Note. The reviewed model is a PDA, you can't make calls from it and use it as an ordinary cell phone. The device will come out under different trade marks - Qtek G100, I-mate PDA-N, Dopod P100. In this review we'll call the device mainly by its code name HTC Galaxy to avoid misunderstanding and questions.
GPS navigation becomes a perspective direction on the mobile device market. This relates not only to PDA, but also communicators and smartphones. Satellite receivers are installed even to multimedia combines and portable game consoles.
The Taiwanese HTC produces the major share of all Pocket PC, including GPS PDA under trademarks of Fujitsu Siemens and HP. The latter (the GPS communicator under HP brand) deserves some attention to understand the roots of HTC Galaxy platform.
Well, HTC produces not only PDAs, but also communicators and smartphones. The latter appear under the trademarks of cell operators, distributors and under own trademark Qtek. The lion's share of sales falls on the phones for T-Mobile, O2 and so on. The PDAs used to be released under vendor trademarks (HP, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens and others). Why did the company release HTC Galaxy platform, it automatically shrinks the sales market for it? The platform lacks the cell module, so the operators won't be interested in it. The matter is the following.
HP is one of the main contractors of HTC. At least until recently exclusive ODM models had been developed for HP, which can't be met under other trademarks. Ordering something from the ODM partner the company wants to be sure that tomorrow this solution won't appear under the other trademark. In result the ODM partner (in our case this is HTC) is burdened with additional agreements. When HP iPaq hw6515 was developed, the additional agreement implied that communicators with built-in GPS wouldn't be released during 1.5 years after the announcement. Bound with this agreement the company couldn't release the GPS communicator, so it had to release the GPS PDA. The device will come out under names of Qtek G100, I-mate PDA-N, Dopod P100. Taking into account the index we understand that the models open the series. According to the company's plans for the upcoming year, HTC Galaxy will be the single PDA in this line, as soon time limits will be expired.
Let's analyze why the company hasn't waited any longer and released the PDA:
Well, we have the PDA with the utmost wireless opportunities. With its smaller screen (in height and width) the model becomes one of the smallest PDAs on the market. It measures 109.7x59.4x17.9 mm and weighs 126 g, which isn't much for a PDA. The model fits the hand, its factors are optimal to use it not in the car. The black shell is made of uneven plastic (in future there might appear many color solutions depending on the popularity of the model). The assemble quality is traditionally high.
Design of HTC Galaxy resembles HTC Magician and HTC Prophet communicators, with plenty of prominent parts and strict lines (for example, skirting to the left and to the right of the screen!) If we compare the appearance with PDAs only, I hardly remember models with design close to it.
Above the screen is a power button with 2 LED indicators in it. Under the screen we see 4 buttons (2 soft buttons are by sides), you can press them at different angles, they have an optimum response, so they are comfortable with such shell size. Below them we find a joystick (you can play dynamic games), a mic and a speaker with average sound volume. The speaker doesn't have a good location, for example, for Skype calls you have to use the headset.
There are no elements are the right side, the left side has an infrared port and a voice recorder button (combined with wireless adapters control). On the top are an SD/MMC slot (SDIO supported, and memory cards up to 4 GB), a silo for the stylus pen, a hole for the hand strap. The device doesn't weigh much not to carry it on the strap. The bottom elements aren't unusual - a miniUSB connector for charging and synchronization, a 3.5 mm audio jack and a reset button.
In addition to the battery compartment cover we find the out for the external GPS antenna at the back panel.
All navigation can be divided into two categories for the final mass user: navigation in the car and navigation out of the car. You can install a big PDA in the car and forget about its weight and dimensions, the important thing here is the screen. If we talk about field navigation, we care about dimension of the device and its battery life. The PDA is somewhere on your body, you take it from the pocket, for example, to check your location and fix the point on the route. We tested the PDA mainly without the car in the cities of Barcelona, Moscow and Helsinki. Out impression of the device as the personal navigator was made during these tests. I'd note that the GPS receiver isn't ideally tuned - it either behaves perfect or fails in simple situations (in the final update this problem is likely to be solved, the company is working on it). If the problems remain in the commercial version of the device, we'll update the review and talk about it in details.
Let's take a track recorded with GIS Russa program and analyze it.
If we look at the track in the scale 250 m to 1 cm, we'll hardly see any positioning flaws. Now have a closer look at the track.
The scale of 30 meters - the Galaxy leads the track by the road with confidence, the track went aside just slightly in the zone of dense buildings, but then resumed the position.
When the receiver finds itself between two buildings, the track deviates by 12 meters, which is still within the permissible error range.
The receiver took advantage of the stop to adjust its location.
During the U-turn the track moved to the lawn, which wasn't actually so (but still within the permissible error range).
The car driver, who uses navigation programs like TomTom, won't notice deviations from the real route by several dozens of meters - the program will display the position of the car artificially on the near road, there is no need in more exact positioning, as well as in the external antenna. You'd remember that in the zone of dense buildings the error gets higher - the receiver processes reflected signals - in some cases up to hundreds meters. I'd also note the TTFF or the time till first finding. You won't be glad to go outside with the receiver when it is frosty, you'd have to wait for several minutes till the receiver locates the position, in motion the process will take more time.
The screen is one of the key features of this PDA. For the most communicators the switch from 3.5" to 2.8" screen diagonal has been completed. However ordinary Pocket PC (not communicators) still involve 3.5" diagonal screens. HTC Galaxy is the first PDA with the small screen (2.8" screen diagonal) similar to that of communicators by the same maker. On the one hand the dimensions got smaller, on the other hand it became less comfortable to perceive the information. If you mainly watch movies, read e-books on your PDA, this won't be a good solution for you (the screen diagonal size is crucial, so many users are ready to have less functions for another inch of the diagonal).
The matrix with featuring 320x240 pixels (QVGA) can display 64K colors. The screen behaves well under the sun - both the text and the map are seen well. There are 10 backlight levels, but the minimum backlight level is traditionally too bright for comfortable work in the dark.
The removable Li-Ion battery is capacious of 1100 mAh, an average figure. The tests proved our expectations - good battery life, longer than average performance, however far from the records of Asus A636. I'd note that battery life in GPS navigation mode (50% backlight level) made up 6 hours 30 minutes, which is close to Asus A636 in the same mode.
The model doesn't offer plenty of new interface versions, but it has a customary set of wireless adapters Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b) and Bluetooth 1.2. So in use they are typical to HTC models.
Wi-Fi connection settings are simple due to the operating system and Zero Config function. The user has to enter the password, if required. There is the support of power consumption control. If you are need wider settings, you can choose among plenty of exterior Wi-Fi managers.
Bluetooth version is 1.2. In latest models HTC traditionally applies built-in drivers by Microsoft. They do not feature rich functionality, the set of profiles and settings is restricted. The built-in Bluetooth allows doing the following:
These are all Bluetooth opportunities. Flaws result from restricted opportunities of built-in Microsoft drivers - there are few settings, no support of full value FTP profile, no support of Bluetooth stereo to transfer high quality sound.
From this September almost all new devices will be released with the new Windows Mobile version. All new navigation PDAs are also based on this OS version. You can read the detailed review of Windows Mobile 5.0 in the special material published on our site. There are no extra preinstalled programs. The European pack of Qtek G100 will be supplied with the navigation program Destinator.
Built-in localization (in our case, russification) in Windows Mobile 5.0 doesn't stand any criticism. We've already paid your attention to the problem, but till the last moment we kept hope that current versions were just a bad joke of Microsoft. But alas, the miracle hasn't happened.
The number of inaccuracy and serious mistakes exceeds all reasonable limits. However that's a part of the problem, the main flaw is in the concept. According to Microsoft, if the device is meant for Russia, so everything should be in Russian. That is, the interface should be local only (there is no possibility to switch to the English interface, for example), there are no bookmarks with Latin letters in contacts, and the input of Latin letters from the virtual keyboard turns a nightmare. The current way to switch virtual keyboard layout (quick double tap on "au" button) isn't described in the manual and is far from being intuitive.
Such localization has an impact on the software, which shouldn't actually happen. For example, there is no Pocket MSN among standard programs (it just doesn't work with the Russian software), many applications do not see the storage card and so on.
Taking into account that raw and unreasoned russification most companies on the Russian market made the right decision to resort to the services of old partners (Paragon and Quarta Technologies). The optimal solution is not to correct flaws of built-in russification, but to localize above the English version (WWE).
Specs, productivity performance
HTC Galaxy is based on the new Samsung SC32442 processor working at the maximum 300 MHz (you can read more about it here). The processor was announced on September 12, 2005, it is already available on the market, I mean HP iPaq rx1950. One of its advantages is the integrated SDRAM and NAND flash memory. There are two processor configurations differing in memory size: the first version with 32 MB RAM/ 64 MB ROM, and the second version with 64 MB RAM/ 128 MB ROM. The first specimens of the PDA were equipped with the first processor configuration, the final version comes with the second configuration - 48.09 MB RAM available (from 64 MB) and 75.57 MB flash memory available (from 128 MB) to store all user's data. This version is the most appropriate from the point of view of power consumption and memory size.
Traditionally we start our tests with SPB Benchmark package. Times goes by, and the packages gets out of date, it will be replaced with the new version, but it is too early to talk about it. We've chosen Pocket PC with built-in GPS receiver.
This index describes Pocket PC's CPU speed. The processor speed turned lower than we expected.
The file system index describes Pocket PC file system speed (read/record/move). Low results on Windows Mobile 5.0 are the charge for the new memory structure.
The platform index describes total Pocket PC platform speed including the built-in applications. As the index is based on the system index, the results are clear. When you run the real tasks on the PDAs occupying the first and the last positions the speed of applications seems to be almost the same.
The synchronization speed is high, almost the highest.
We tested video with The Core Pocket Media Player program and got the following results. The performance depends greatly on graphical accelerators and Wireless MMX built in the latest Intel XScale processor. The performance near 100% implies that the movie ran smoothly without dropped frames, however some active scenes might fail.
Thus you need to convert movies before watching them, but the movie with a 320x240 pixel resolution will run without problems. Even if we won't use Wireless MMX optimization, the model showed average results in video playback speed. We launched 4 clips at different stream intensity, the index was formed on the basis of dropped frames. The less dropped frames, the higher the index is. 1000 index means no dropped frames at all.
To test graphics productivity we ran tests of the PocketQuake game in the mute mode (turn the sound off by nosound 1 console command, leaving other settings unchanged). There is an averaged figure by 2 tests (Demo 1 and Demo2). The model won't be good for resource-extensive games, but Pocket SNES emulator performed as fast as Asus A636 in "heavy" games.
Another main application of the model in addition to GPS navigation is IP telephony, free calls via the Internet in Wi-Fi zones. There is a built-in Skype client (depending on the trademark), which works well. Unfortunately there is no extra speaker for VoIP, so you have to use the headset for a comfortable talk.
There will be simple and laconic conclusion on this model. If we consider the navigation aspect mainly outside the car, HTC Galaxy has no direct rivals - it is good as the navigator and the functional PDA. We shouldn't forget about its compact size, this is the first PDA (not communicator) based on Windows Mobile and with a 2.8" diagonal.
If you need navigation for the car use first of all, you'd make your choice between FS Pocket LOOX N520 and Asus A636, as it is more comfortable to watch the road on the big screen. But if you care about the price, the MiTAC solutions look more attractive. With any price adjustment, the devices by this maker from Taiwan will cost less.
The model will come out in December 2005. Its initial price will depend greatly on the region and the pack (with or without the map). In Russia the price will start from $480-500, then we can expect price fall to $400.
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