Introduction and FeaturesIt's been a few months since we reviewed our first handset from GIGABYTE's GSmart division, that being the t600. With the launch of the GSmart i350 last month, we thought we'd bring you a review of it as well. The i350 is running Windows Mobile 6 Professional and the form factor is similar to the t600 with the same excellent 480x640 260,000 colour 6-inch LCD display.
Size wise the two are also quite similar with the i350 measuring 110x54x18mm (HxWxD) which makes it 0.5mm thinner and 1.5mm narrower than the t600. It's also 10g lighter at 130g. The shape is similar as well with it being quite square, but it's not uncomfortable to hold. Our only real gripe with using it is the fact that GIGABYTE didn't add any soft menu buttons. This means that you end up touching the bottom of the screen quite often, since you won't want to be using the stylus all the time.
The buttons consist of a four way navigation pad with a select button in the middle, a green call button, a red end call/cancel button, a Windows start menu button and an OK button. On the left hand side is also a volume up/down slider while on the bottom right hand side is the camera shutter button. You'll also find a proprietary headset connector behind a flap on the right hand side.
The i350 shares the Marvell PXA270 CPU with the t600 and it's even clocked at the same speed, 520MHz. It's great to see that GSmart sticks with 256MB of storage memory, although we'd like to see the system memory upgraded from 64MB, as once the device is up and running you only have about 20MB of this at your disposal.
The battery is also the same 1,300mAh unit, but it seems like the talk time has been upped to 4.5h and the standby time to 160h. The i350 also features Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and a mini USB 2.0 connector at the bottom. There's no mention of EDR for the Bluetooth connectivity, but this could just be an occlusion on the website as we didn't get a spec sheet with the review sample.Other improvements seem to cover the integrated 2 MegaPixel camera with auto focus and an LED flash, which seems to take better pictures than the t600 and also seems to focus faster. It's still far from great, but if you use max resolution and resize the pictures, they're actually usable.
Features (cont.) and Software
Features (cont.) and SoftwareThe i350 sadly hasn't been boosted to 3G, it's still very much a GSM handset and we're really hoping for some 3G action from GSmart in the future. The i350 is a quad band handset which means it should work in most parts of the world and it supports GPRS class 12, but not EDGE which is a shame.
The i350 has been given an external memory card slot, but unlike the t600 which uses a micro SD card, the i350 is using a slightly larger mini SD card. The only problem we had was with the location of the memory card slot which is at the bottom of the handset, this would probably make one worry about the card dropping out, but hopefully this won't be the case.
The main feature of the i350, as with the t600 which had a built in digital TV tuner and digital radio, is that the built-in SiRF Star III GPS receiver. However, GIGABYTE doesn't seem to ship it with any navigation software, instead you get a small GPS tracking utility which works in all extents very much like the early GPS units. This means that you get a set of coordinates and you can place markers to navigate between. It will also display the speed you're travelling at. We did have some problems using this in a car, as it seemed like the GPS receiver had problems locating the satellites, but this was most likely down to the windshield in the car as these can sometimes block the GPS signals.
You can also take snapshots with the camera and link those pictures to the GPS location, this allowing you to retrace your step back to that location with the help of the picture. The GPS information should also allow you to keep track of where you've taken the pictures.Apart from the GPS tracking utility, the i350 comes with some additional software which doesn't normally come with Windows Mobile devices. The one that stands out the most in our opinion is the Pocket Remote and we'd like to see this on more Windows Mobile devices. It's actually not a remote control application in the way you'd think at first, as it allows you to remote control the i350 from within Windows.
The application is stored on the handset and you simply copy it over onto your PC, connect the i350 via ActiveSync, run the application, press the power button that shows up on the screen and you get a video overlay of what's displayed on the i350 in Windows. Then you can use your mouse and keyboard and enter information, edit contacts or even play games on the i350. This makes it a lot easier to do some tasks and as the i350 doesn't have a keyboard this is an easy way to enter large amounts of data onto it.
Software (cont.) and Conclusion
Software (cont.) and ConclusionOther useful applications include the audio mixer which enables to you boost the bass and treble as well as add some spatial 3D effects. Then there's GIGABYTE's custom Bluetooth application which is somewhat confusing at first, but it offers some simplified ways of sending your vCard information to another handset. Another feature we really like is the Block List, this enables you to block calls from any number you want. If you receive an incoming call from one of these numbers, the phone simply won't ring.
There's also an application that allows you to set the performance of the CPU in the i350; the options are Standard Mode, which automatically adjusts the CPU speed and puts the screen brightness to medium, PowerSaving Mode which clocks it down to about 200MHz and sets the screen brightness to its lowest setting, and finally Performance Mode which runs it at full speed and pushes up the screen backlight to full as well.
Finally there's GSmart's Wise Talk utility, which is part answering machine and part spy gadget. You can set it up to record messages and use this instead of your mobile network's answering service; you can even have different messages for different callers which can be handy if you're in a meeting and need to pass on a message for someone. It doesn't replace your mobile network's answering service though, as it doesn't work when you're on a call or when the phone is switched off.
The other part of Wise Talk is slightly dodgy, but great for those that don't like being caught out as it allows you to record various background noises which can be played back during a phone call to simulate your location if you happen to be somewhere else. This seems more like a cheap spy toy to us than a really functional feature, unless you're up to something you shouldn't really be...
So, how to sum things up? Well, the i350 is a decent enough handset with a few minor issues and it lacks some features, most importantly 3G connectivity. It's quite keenly priced at around $385 AU, but this was in Taiwan and it's most likely going to be more expensive in Australia. This price did included a copy of Garmin Mobile XT as well as a 2GB mini SD card, so a bare package should retail for less. We're not sure when GSmart will release the i350 world wide, but hopefully it won't be too long.
The handset was first launched on the Russian market, but we can't imagine that GIGABYTE won't unleash it onto the rest of the world, even though it might not be a cutting edge handset. Besides, not everyone needs 3G and if you're looking for an affordable Windows Mobile 6 device or an affordable phone with built in GPS, then this might be just what you've been waiting for.
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