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Toshiba TG01 review

Can the most powerful mobile phone ever built compete with the iPhone?

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Finally, we get to the media section - surely one of the reasons Toshiba made a phone so big. Well, the good news is that video is definitely watchable on this device - the bad news is it's not great.

Video

There are bizarrely three different options on the Toshiba TG01 for watching video, with Windows Media Player, Coreplayer and Video Player. Why the need for three is unknown, and it's very confusing.

We generally chose to use Coreplayer, as it was the most wide-ranging in terms of functionality and certainly the easiest to use. It was a little picky in terms of opening files, as you had to hit the tiny black arrow to open the menu options, and then you have to navigate to the file itself within the phone's structure.

Toshiba tg01 video

Heading into fullscreen video mode wasn't straightforward either, with a number of taps needed on the thumbnail-sized image to blow it up to fill the display (it also pauses it for some reason as well on occasion).

Video was also very dark unless you turned off the auto-brightness options in the settings, with the phone deciding that unless you were in the lightest room in the world you wouldn't need the full power of the LED backlight.

Not only that, but the glossy screen is not conducive to video watching, unless you want to hold the phone at an angle that catches only a blank ceiling or similar. Otherwise you'll be forced to part watch yourself looking at a video for the entire duration, and this gets even worse in bright light.

Toshiba tg01 comparison

We compared the video playback on the Toshiba TG01's 4.1-inch LCD screen to that of the Samsung i8910HD's 3.7-inch OLED effort, and the difference was startling. The OLED, even with auto-dimming switched on, gave a greater contrast ratio, brighter colours and more vivid shapes.

The TG01, by comparison, had a large amount of artefacting going on, especially in the darker areas, and for a phone with such high processing power with a top-level WVGA screen we expected a lot better. And especially given the fact Toshiba says it's added in its REGZA TV technology, which would have been so improved had an OLED been plugged in there instead.

We know that would raise the cost, but for nearly £450 you're in the top end area of phone pricing anyway. It is nice to have a dedicated YouTube client within the Coreplayer, but this isn't as good as those designed for the likes of the iPhone or the HTC range, and was a little basic graphically too.

Toshiba tg01 youtube

Dragging and dropping video to the TG01 was the easiest way of getting content on there (the same applies to music as well) as synchronising via Windows Media Player meant the program first wanted to convert the files, and then failed while doing so.

Music

Given the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack onboard (understandable again, given the depth of the device) listening to music was never going to feel like a seamless experience, although the addition of Windows Media Player helped things along somewhat.

The problem with fitting a 4.1-inch screen on the TG01 is the thing is both long and wide, and adding the the 3.5cm long headphone adaptor to the side of the phone made listening to music while carrying the device in the pocket very difficult. In fact it will almost definitely snap at some point in the phone's lifetime if you carry it around in the pocket often enough.

Toshiba tg01 music

However, we paired it up with some Bluetooth headphones, Backbeat 906's from Plantronics, and not only was synchronisation easy, the music sounded even better and removed the problem of the connector. The problem was this ate battery life somewhat, but it was worth it to help improve pocketability.

Music quality is good however, although organising a playlist was a little tricky. However, it does bring the basic experience of WMP to the phone, and those familiar with the interface will be navigating around it in no time. However, the options are a little small, so it's best to use the stylus here.

One big sticking point - if you put the phone in sleep mode to conserve the battery and make sure you don't hit any keys when in the pocket, the music stops playing. This means you're forced to lock the phone by holding the up key for three seconds, which is irritating on the go.

Gaming

It's the first time we've come across 3D gaming on a VGA screen, and although we've got the normal Solitaire and Bubble Breaker, this time we're treated to a Need For Speed Undercover demo on the phone as well.

If you imagine a game built for a Windows 98 PC and then ported onto a phone, this would be it. That's fine, except we played the exact same game on the iPhone and that had graphics to rival a PS2.

Left and right, instead of using the accelerometer, were activated by pressing buttons on the screen, and the blocky graphics were massively uninspiring.

Toshiba tg01 gaming

Perhaps there will be better games to make use of the hardware in the future (the Monopoly demo on board wasn't too bad) but the early efforts aren't good.