Expansys Ubiquio 401 review

An all singing, all dancing number

It's packed full of juicy features with the added bonus of a built-in TV

TechRadar Verdict

A well-specced PocketPC phone with the built-in TV tuner adding a bonus extra


  • +

    Smartphone with analogue TV


  • -

    Strong signal needed for TV tuner

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With the Ubiquio 401 you not only bag yourself a Windows Mobile-powered, Wi-Fi-equipped Pocket PC, combined with a slider action mobile phone, you also get a TV tuner for terrestrial broadcasts.

This is a first for a mobile phone in the UK, but with the industry developing technologies that deliver IP-based, over-the-air digital broadcast systems optimised for handsets (DVB-H, DMB and DABIP) alongside 3G network-streamed channels, telly in your phone is set to be huge in years to come.

This own-brand newcomer from online retailer Expansys, has an analogue TV tuner onboard capable of picking up free-to-air terrestrial stations only, rather than sporting a new digital mobile standard (such as the DAB-IP equipped Lobster 700TV reviewed opposite).

Getting the TV going is straightforward enough. Using a regular Windows Mobile touch-screen interface, you can open up the TV application by tapping on the drop-down Start apps menu. The plug-in stereo headset functions as an antenna for the onboard TV (and FM radio that's also included), so it has to be connected to receive pictures, but you can still share audio through the UBiQUiO's speakerphone.

From here you'll either get directly to the last channel you've watched or, if you've not set it up, a fuzzy screen, with a pop-up menu bar for channel selection and settings - including automatic tuning. When activated this will quickly hunt and store channels, although you'll need a decent signal to be able to get a full spread of stations.

In our offices we managed to get BBC1, BBC2, ITV1 and Channel 4, though we drew a complete blank in some areas. Usefully, you watch TV sideways using the full-screen in landscape mode. If the conditions are right, the device can produce finer quality pictures, with smoother movement than other digital mobile TV images.

In a fixed location, once tuned in, pictures can be excellent, but as you move around regular interference and picture break-up arise - pretty much as per most analogue pocket TVs. That means watching decent quality telly on a train commute is effectively a fuzz-filled non-starter.

Another drawback is power consumption; watching telly fairly eats up the battery, and you'll have to juice it up after about 100mins of TV watching, so plugging in the charger is recommended if you're not on the move.

Added extra

Of course, TV is really a neat added extra in this device's smart phone locker. It's a very capable Pocket PC/mobile for the money and looks a bargain at a recently discounted £210.

The slip-down mobile number pad is like many a recent slider phone from Samsung, albeit on a larger, chunkier scale, and it has the expected checklist of regular phone features.

It's not 3G-capable, which means downloadable multimedia tricks are limited, but you can still snap shots with its 2.1 megapixel camera and shoot video, too. Its extensive Windows Mobile 5.0 software suite also throws in Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, which offers smooth playback of video footage you've loaded.

It may not be the slickest mobile handset, but it does have a features list to satisfy PocketPC fans and, of course, the TV is a definite plus.

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