When is a smart phone more than a smart phone? That's a good question, but the GSmart t600 definitely has potential to be something more than just a phone. You might wonder why this is and it will all be revealed in due time; but first let's start with a little bit of background information about GSmart, as it might be a company you're more familiar with than you think.
GSmart is actually a brand from Gigabyte's mobile phone division, so rather than doing mobile devices under its own brand name like Asus, Gigabyte spun off this business into a separate company. GSmart is actually called Giga-Byte Communications Inc. but all of its smart phones are sold under the GSmart brand. The company was founded in February 2004, so it's not a brand new player in the mobile phone market, but it's only recently made its products available outside of the Taiwanese and Chinese market.
Some of its Gigabyte branded products are unlikely to appeal to markets outside of Asia due to branding such as Doraemon, Snoopy, Barbie and Keroro, a couple of these being famous Japanese cartoons. The handsets also look rather odd, but its GSmart devices are an entirely different cup of tea. Although you've been able to buy some of the GSmart phones from specialist importers such as Expansys in the past, Gigabyte is now making a push into several territories around the world and Europe is one of its target markets.
Enough talk about the company, what about the phone? Well, as you can see from the picture above, it's white with a black border around its sides and a fairly square shape which doesn't really stand out at first glance. But one shouldn't judge a book by its covers and the GSmart t600 has quite a few interesting features once you start looking at what it has to offer.
First of all, what sets the GSmart t600 apart from every other Windows Mobile powered device so far is its built-in digital TV tuners. That is not a typo, as the GSmart t600 features no less than three different TV tuners as well as two radio tuners. It has hardware support for DVB-T, DVB-H and T-DMB when it comes to TV and T-DMB, and DAB when it comes to radio, but it will also receive DVB-T transmitted radio as well.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it isn't, as it works quite well providing you're in a good reception area, at least as far as DVB-T goes anyway, as this is the only one of the three technologies that works in Taiwan where we tested the handset. It is also the only tuner that Gigabyte provides software for, so the question is what you do when you want to watch a DVB-H or T-DMB program where those are available, but this is more of an issue for Gigabyte and hopefully something that will be sorted out shortly.
The TV application might differ from the one we were supplied with, as during the review process Gigabyte added an English manual on its website with information about software from Cyberlink for the English language version of the GSmart t600, although the software on our review sample was in English and we're not entirely sure why Gigabyte changed the software.
The quality of the TV programs were excellent as long as the reception was strong enough, but this was something of a problem unfortunately, as the signal would drop indoors and when you walked around or sat in a car or a bus, so for this reason it's not exactly an ideal commuter's friend.
On the upside, the TV viewing application was dead easy to use and didn't cause any problems.
As you can see, the TV programs here in Taiwan which are broadcasted on DVB-T aren't that much fun, unless you're a local or happen to be interested in watching the news that is.
There's one issue here which is in relation to the stylus doubling up as the antenna. You might not think that it's a big deal, since you wouldn't be using the touch screen while watching TV. This logic makes sense, especially given you can control the TV viewing application with the keypad; but the problem we had was that the stylus is very poor, though we'll cover that in more detail later on in the review. For now, let's take a closer look on what you're getting in terms of hardware specs.