A stylish and well-featured smartphone that offers a lot for the asking price
Fully-integrated satnav system
Touchscreen Windows Mobile 6 smartphone
Camera lacks autofocus
No Qwerty keyboard
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The Glofiish X500+ is E-ten's latest foray into the Windows Mobile device arena, with a few tweaks from the X500 original - such as improved display and camera functionality.
On paper, the X500+ makes an enticing proposition. It's one of the first wave of devices built around the latest Windows Mobile 6 Professional operating system.
This touchscreen device doesn't just provide the usual Microsoft-powered fare - it grabs your attention with must-have features such as its built-in GPS antenna, and Wi-Fi capability.
It also boldly claims to be the thinnest all-in-one Windows Mobile touchscreen phone that you can find - with a measured depth of just under 16mm. This might be the case, but it is still no miniature.
The integrated satnav, 2.8-inch stylus-responsive screen, and wireless data connectivity may justify some of the size. But it still remains that this is significantly heavier than the very-similarly-specified HTC P3300 (better known as the O2 XDA Orbit).
What makes the X500+ different, however, is that E-ten has tried very hard to make this unlike other Windows Mobile machines. These smartphones can end up being unnervingly similar to each other, whoever makes them, thanks to the standard features and interface limitations of the Microsoft operating system.
But this Glofiish challenges this norm, not only with its attractive matt black casing - it has also made a fair go at customising the interface to give a refreshingly different user experience.
Fire up the phone, for instance, and the standby screen offers mini icons for the major applications and utilities - quick links that allow you to see and find things quickly. Unlike other Windows Mobile devices, you don't have to hit the Start icon to find out what is on offer.
Better still, if you hit the Home key above the screen, program items and programs are split up into different tabbed subscreens - with Phone, Fun, PDA, and System features being sensibly split up for easy access.
The content of these hotlists can be customised, to speed your way round the phone's many features still further. The onscreen interface is also supplied with a specially-designed skin, whose orange colour palette makes a refreshing change from the standard Windows blue.
The advantage of a touchscreen is that it makes for a very simple looking device. But the lack of numberpad does mean that making calls to new numbers is more hassle than with a normal phone. What's more, unlike some serious smartphones, there is no hidden Qwerty keyboard to pops out to your rescue when typing up emails and SMS messages.
You do get an onscreen typewriter console but the letters on this seem rather smaller than on some other models, forcing you to be more deliberate and controlled with the stylus.
The phone is loaded with 128MB of RAM and 64MB of ROM, and the memory can be increased with the use of a MicroSD card (not supplied). This slips into an uncovered slot at the base of the phone - so can be removed and changed without the need to fiddle with caps, covers and battery.
Refreshingly, the handset uses a simple jack input for connecting a headset; it's not the most common 3.5mm size, but the 2.5mm interface provides an easy route for attaching a wide range of earpieces via an adapter.
The supplied headset is not just provided for music listening and for handsfree calling, it also acts as an aerial for the built-in FM tuner. This is a well-designed and useful utility, not usually found on such devices. MP3 rendition is pretty good, both through the speakerphone and the headset.
The GPS facility can be activated using a button above left of the LCD, but out of the box this does little more than tell you your latitude, longitude and height above sea level. Useful stuff if you have an Ordnance Survey chart to hand, but of academic interest otherwise.
To make better use of the satellite positioning technology you have to invest in suitable software and cartography - such as TomTom Navigator 6 for Windows Mobile, which will provide you UK road routing for around £80.
The camera is a 2-megapixel affair, which is capable of capturing video as well as stills. Its photographic credentials are improved by the provision of a pretty decent flash facility. and although there is no autofocus, there is a switchable close-up facility.
There are lots of other overrides available, but to access these means surround the picture area with a mass of icons, which look rather confusing and messy. What is worse, using the camera outdoors is not made easy as it is almost impossible to see what is on the LCD.
In better working conditions, the camera delivers nicely exposed images with a good colour balance, but the overall picture quality is let down by significant smearing towards the edges of the frame. The camera on our review model also had a habit of claiming there was no memory space - a programming fault we could only work around by turning the phone off and on again.
It's the business software package, of course, that remains the main appeal of a phone like this. You can not only look at Excel and Word files that you carry around, or have emailed to you but you can edit these documents too. You can also view Powerpoint presentations.
The Wi-Fi connection is not just handy for email at home and at the office but it means that you can save serious amounts of money when browsing the internet with the stripped down version of Explorer that is supplied. The screen swaps quickly between portrait and landscape modes, so that surfers can make the most of the quarter-VGA screen area.
So does the Glofiish X500+ bring new sparkle to the Windows Mobile phone? What you can't take away from E-ten is that this is a great attempt at trying to make a difference. On looks alone, it will undoubtedly attract some - although the size will put off others. But it is the price that will be the biggest motivator. Sure you have to pay more for full GPS service, but at £290 SIM free it is very enticingly priced.
Ease of use 7
Call quality 8
Total score 85%
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