As you’ve probably seen, Orange launched the Toshiba TG01 today, and SlashGear went along to the launch event 31 floors above the city of London. There’s not much about this smartphone we didn’t already know – after all, we were also there in February when it officially debuted – but today was an opportunity to play with the Orange branded version and the latest firmware. Read on for our first impressions, plus a hands-on gallery, video demo, and comparison shots with what up until now has been the Windows Mobile heavyweight, HTC’s Touch HD.
Hands-on video demo after the cut
First, the positives, and there are two stand-out features which make the TG01 shine. The most instantly noticeable is the display, a massive 4.1-inch 800 x 480 resistive touchscreen that, while the same WVGA resolution as the Touch HD, still dwarfs it. The second feature, and one that takes a little longer with the TG01 to appreciate, is its processor; this is the first smartphone to launch with Qualcomm’s 1GHz Snapdragon chipset, making the Toshiba the fastest Windows Mobile phone around.
While we had a relatively short period with the TG01, our first impressions of the Toshiba UI are reasonable. It lacks the depth and cross-OS consistency of TouchFLO 3D, being more of a launcher than a true reskinning of Windows Mobile, but it’s attractive and responsive to the touch. We’re not quite sure how much flexibility in user-customization there is, but Orange themselves have made their mark, adding in shortcuts to various portals and the like.
Toshiba or Orange’s decision to leave the standard browser as Mobile Internet Explorer (MIE), though, is one of the most frustrating. Unlike Opera Mobile on recent HTC handsets, MIE falls well short of the browsing experience we’re used to on smartphones; page rendering defaults to mobile versions of sites, and fails to use all the screen real-estate the TG01 has to offer. Thankfully panning around the page was quick and rendering almost instantaneous, likely a benefit of the speedy CPU.
Some of the more unusual gesture-features on the TG01 seemed a little temperamental; as you can see in our video below, the “shake” gesture failed to work on the unit we were looking at, and it took a few tries before the tilt-pan reacted. Screen rotation also proved more sluggish than we expected, though we ought to point out that on a second device we played with it seemed quicker.
Obviously the demo models tonight had been well used, and so we’ll suspend judgment until our TG01 review unit comes in. While a brief video demo made impressive use of the screen, we never felt any particular speed boost in the pre-loaded applications. We still have high hopes for the combination of Snapdragon plus that expansive display, and we’re looking forward to loading up some of the more feature-intensive applications and seeing how the TG01 copes. If you’re impatient and can’t wait for our review, though, and you’re in the UK, you can pick up the Toshiba TG01 exclusively on Orange, from free, starting July 10th. More details here.