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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Glofiish X500

I recently upgraded my PDA Phone from the i-mate JAM that I've had for the last two years to the new Glofiish X500 from ETEN. They're very similar devices - but the X500 has twice the processor power, and built in WiFi and GPS.

I've had the X500 for about a week now and I'm pretty impressed. The processor makes quite a difference to the feel of the GUI and some of the hardware issues from the earlier versions of Pocket PC have disappeared in Windows Mobile 5 (for example, wireless works seamlessly alongside GPRS). The reception of GSM, wireless and GPS are very good and it locates satellites quickly and reliably. To get all this into a device of this size is quite an achievement.

In fact my only complaint is that the X500 has a telescopic stylus that comes out from the bottom right of the device, which is not very natural (all my previous devices it has come out of the top right) - niggly I know, but it starts almost every interaction in a slightly awkward way, which is a real shame.

ETEN also supply an impressive array of additional software that would definitely make Windows Mobile more usable. However I use a couple of Today plugins from SPB (Pocket Plus, Diary and Mobile Shell) and those pretty much cover the same functionality, but with better integration with the info on the device, and better graphics.

So its looking good so far, and although Windows Mobile 6 is just around the corner I don't think that there is anything on the feature list that would have made me wish I'd waited for another couple of months. If anyone out there is thinking of getting a small PDA/Phone device you should beware the sad and crippled excuses offered by the Network Operators and should definitely consider this one instead.

Update (3rd May, 2007) :- I've now had the Glofiish for a few months and I've become aware of a few problems discussed in the community. Two of these have bitten me. Firstly, after installing a number of applications (mostly from Spb) the SMS software stopped working (both sending and receiving). I managed to fix this by upgrading to the latest ROM (at time of writing version 354) - easy enough, but something I never had to do with my i-mate JAM.

The second problem is continuing and is a problem with using GPRS on the UK T-mobile network. The best guess out there is that the network is just outside the tolerances of the phone, which causes the GPRS modem to drop out frequently (making GPRS unusable). I'm finding it annoying, but I can wait to see if the upcoming Windows Mobile 6 upgrade fixes the problem. For many other people this is going to be a deal breaker and enough to make them shop elsewhere :-(

Update (13th June 2007) :- ETEN have now released their Windows Mobile 6 upgrade and it apparently does not fix the problem with T-Mobile GPRS. I have also experienced a new problem when a few days ago the X500 stopped playing the incoming audio on voice calls, a soft reset didn't seem to fix the problem, but the following day (before I had a chance to do a hard reset) it had fixed itself.

I've had so many niggly problems with this device that I have to change my mind and warn people from buying one. All the good points belong to the technologies in the phone (wifi is great, GPS is very useful and a 2GB miniSD card makes it a handy iPod shuffle replacement) and all the bad points belong to the manufacturer. I have a history of alternative good and bad phones, and this is obviously my bad phone cycle.

ETEN have recently released the X500+ which has a tempting VGA screen. This sounds like an excellent addition to the phone, but I still wouldn't buy one. I'd wait for HTC to release something equivalent. Their devices seem to work properly.

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