Toshiba has elected to stick the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional OS on the TG01 in a bid to improve functionality and help bridge the gap once more between business and pleasure smartphones. The constant criticism of WinMo 6.1 is its sheer unwillingness to play nice with fingers on touchscreen efforts, but with a 4.1-inch screen to play with we had high hopes of ditching the stylus.
Bad news - you can't. HTC has almost done a disservice to the Windows Mobile community by skinning it so well on the likes of the HTC Touch Diamond 2 or the HTC Touch Pro2, with the TouchFLO 3D system, that many people might have forgotten how hard it can be to navigate around the Windows Mobile 6.1 on a touchscreen.
But it all comes screaming back when you start poking around the inner workings of the Toshiba TG01.
Toshiba knows the limitations of Windows Mobile 6.1 (as well as the many benefits) so has stuck a 3D strip skin on top. This means eight 'stripes' on the homescreen covering areas like Applications, Settings and Media, with each able to be flicked up to show a list of icons in that category.
These can be easily customised, as well as re-arranging the order of the stripes, by pressing Menu option at the bottom of the home screen. However, adding icons is a bit of a laborious task, as you need to assign them to different columns and hitting the little thumbnails with a finger is pretty hard, highlighting once again how the TG01 is certainly not a phone for thumb use.
The UK version also features an Orange homescreen too, which looks a lot like the TouchWiz interface on the Samsung range, with a range of widgets down the side (with a similar level of customisation, although they're more menu shortcuts than widgets that provide a standalone service, like weather updates on the homescreen).
And so begins the problem with using Windows Mobile 6.1 on the Toshiba TG01. It simply does not work smoothly by any stretch of the imagination. What's more irritating is that during the launch we were told by Toshiba that the normal Windows Mobile 6.1 interface was hidden around two to three menu levels down, which is just a lie.
SMS heads straight there, the calendar is the bog-standard variety, and contacts have that nasty Windows Mobile blocky effect. Even picking programs is a WinMo affair, so where Toshiba have hidden the three layers of skinning is beyond us.
And then you have the problem of even using the OS with a finger (we were also told the TG01 was designed not to be used with stylus in most cases). It's so difficult to hit links and icons most of the time that even if you loathe the iPhone and all that it stands for, you'll be wishing you had one in your hand with its easy-to-use swishy touch interface, where you rarely hit the wrong thing on the screen with your clumsy pokings.
SIZE COMPARISON: The Toshiba TG01 compared to an iPhone 3G
It's so clear that this phone needs Windows Mobile 6.5 on it, and thankfully we hear that it will be available as a free download 'soon'. Some people say the new interface is nothing more than a finger-friendly refresh of the current iteration – but trust us, that's something that's sorely needed on phones like this one.
But although Windows Mobile 6.1 is dreadful for the finger, it still brings a lot of functionality to the table. Once you get your head around the navigation and put your favourite icons on the homescreen or the start menu (tiny and hard to press as they may be) the whole thing does run at a superb pace, thanks to the 1GHz Snapdragon processor.
The Orange homescreen is easy to use and looks nice with the cross-head style menu interface, and the stripe system (with the Gadget Zone at the top, giving quick access to information such as new messages and calendar tasks) is fun to play with and a novel idea.
But when you start interacting with the phone on a day to day basis, it simply does not get any more quick to use as you begin to learn the functions – you can only get used to the fact everything is a little bit more difficult to do.