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One year on from its entry into the smartphone market, Toshiba is clearly working hard to combine the sensible and rather corporate brand values we associate with its business notebooks with a little of the gadget glamour of the style-obsessed mobile phone world. Sometimes these forces work together and sometimes they pull in different directions.
For instance, it's not difficult to see what targets the other two phones in the current Portégé line-up are aimed at. The G710 is your Blackberry alternative, while the clamshell G910 is going up against the E TEN Glofiish M800 and the HTC TyTN II. The G810 in the middle, however, is a slightly schizophrenic beast. On the one hand, it wants to be a useful, effective business tool for people working in a Windows-centric world. On the other hand, it also wants a little of the iPhone's cool cachet. Unsurprisingly, it manages one job better than the other.
Physically, it's not hard to see the Cupertino influence at work. This is a slim candybar handset, predominantly black and dominated by its 2.8in, 240 x 320 TFT screen. The only other things cluttering the front are the front camera lens, LED indicator and earpiece at the top and the touch-sensitive navigation and function keys at the bottom, illuminated by a nicely understated blue glow. At 123g it's a little on the heavy side, but with its rubberised back and moulded surround it does feel remarkably solid. It's the sort of phone that most thrusting young execs (or pudgy middle managers) would be happy to be seen using.
Its specs back up the strong physical design with support for GPRS, EDGE and 3.6MB/sec HSDPA. It also offers 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity and features a 3.0 Megapixel camera with autofocus. Meanwhile a 400Mhz Qualcomm MSM7200 processor with 128MB of RAM and 256MB of ROM powers the Windows Mobile 6.1 professional OS and built-in apps.
On top of that it also incorporates GPS tracking with A-GPS if available. The latter means that it combines location data from your cellular connection with the satellite data to speed up the initial positioning and give you a more consistent lock. Sadly, this doesn't help if - like me - you live in an area where GPS systems struggle until you're out on a main road heading in the wrong direction.
Also, no mapping applications are installed as standard - not even Google Maps - and the rather hefty manual offers the feature precious little coverage. The other point to mention is that not all GPS applications are compatible and Toshiba's website has yet to state which ones are.