Getting back to that all important screen and Toshiba really has created something quite stunning. In terms of clarity, it’s use of a resistive touchscreen does mean it suffers from the slight milkiness that troubles all such displays but otherwise it’s bright, colourful, and very sharp. Indeed Toshiba has employed some of its TV technologies, including dynamic backlight control, colour matching, and dynamic gamma correction, to enhance video playback. The result is video that has deeper blacks, more vivid colours, and generally a greater sense of depth than on any other device we’ve seen, bar those that use OLED displays. It really is impressive stuff.
The combination of the screen’s sheer size and its resolution of 800 x 480 pixels also brings a whole other level of functionality to the mobile device world. Where something like the HTC Touch Pro 2 has a similar resolution, its screen is too small to use comfortably with your fingers. By contrast the TG01 almost doesn’t need all the fancy finger-friendly skins that have been crammed onto other Windows Mobile 6.1 devices of late because icons, menu options, scroll bars and such like are all large enough to comfortably hit with your finger on the TG01.
That said, the interface tweaks that have been made are very welcome. These include the ability to scroll by pressing anywhere on the screen and just dragging the ‘page’ around like it were a piece of paper rather than having to use scroll bars. There are also custom finger-friendly keyboards for easier touch typing, though these are particularly poor examples.
Toshiba has also implemented a custom home screen but this either needs to be ditched or heavily overhauled as quickly as possible. It uses an array of half a dozen ‘blinds’ to categorise various shortcuts to settings, applications, media, tools, and such like. The idea is that it shows three of the blinds at any one time and by swiping your finger across the screen you can flip along to the next blind. You can then extend the list of shortcuts on each blind by dragging it up the length of the blind. Now, this is a convoluted and ill-conceived concept right from the get go – essentially it’s just an overly complicated application launcher – but it’s made utterly rubbish by the fact its slow and difficult to use.
Once you add in the fact that this screen feels unresponsive compared to the capacitive ones of the iPhone, HTC Magic, and Palm Pre and you have a device that pretty much falls flat on its face in terms of usability. Any basic phone task like dialling a number, writing a text message, setting an alarm, and playing some music, is an absolute chore.