E-TEN Glofiish X500

  • Editors' rating
    7.8 Very good

Pros

  • Built-in GPS receiver
  • FM radio
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Lots of software extras
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No infra-red
  • The visual design of some applications may not appeal to professional users

E-TEN claims that this is the world's thinnest Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition handheld with integrated GPS and Wi-Fi. We can't fathom the brand name — 'Glofiish' means nothing to us. But what really matters is not its name, but how well the device, which can be bought from Expansys for £364.95 (inc VAT), performs.

Design

We can't confirm or deny E-TEN's "world's thinnest" claim, but the Glofiish X500 is certainly compact given the functionality it accomodates. It's a little taller than many recent Pocket PCs at 113mm, the remaining dimensions being 59.5mm wide and 15.5mm thick. Weighing 146g, it's not an unreasonable size or weight for either pocket or hand.

The screen displays 240 by 320 pixels and 65,536 colours. Apart from a few examples of stretching into VGA resolution (640 x 480), Pocket PC screens have been stuck with these specifications for some time. At 2.in. from corner to corner, the screen's size is also pretty standard. It is clear and sharp enough, although we found it a little unresponsive to the touch at times.

There are shortcut buttons both above and below the display, embedded into the attractive slate-grey fascia. Above the display are two buttons that activate the GPS receiver and take you to the Windows Mobile Today screen. Beneath the display are Call and End buttons, two soft-menu buttons and, drawn down slightly below these, the navigation button. This comprises a large central select area and a smaller frame that you tap for directional movement. It is not the most comfortable we have used.

The sides and back of the Glofiish X500 are formed from black plastic. There are few buttons on the sides and they are neatly integrated into the casing to deliver a fairly minimalist look. On the right is the main power switch and a button for using the built-in camera; on the left is a pair of buttons for controlling system volume, and one button which, when held down, activates the Windows Mobile voice recorder. You need to hold this down for rather longer than usual to get the voice recorder to spring into action. The bottom-left side also houses the connector for the provided stereo headset.

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On the bottom is the mini-USB connector that doubles up for charging the battery and making a wired connection to a host PC. The memory expansion slot is also here.

The Glofiish X500 comes with a book-jacket-style protective case (without belt clip), a PC connectivity cable, a stereo headset, a plastic screen protector, a quick-start guide and a CD. There is no printed full user manual.

Features

The E-TEN Glofiish X500 is a quad-band GSM phone with GPRS. The processor is Samsung's SC3 2442 running at 400MHz. Despite the well-specified CPU, there were occasions when the device did not skip along with quite as much agility as we'd like.

There is 64MB of RAM and 128MB of ROM, and after a hard reset our review device had 52.5MB of space free for the user to store data and applications. It's easy to expand on this as the flash memory slot is, as already noted, readily accessible on the bottom edge of the casing. The memory format of choice is microSD. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are integrated, although infrared has been omitted.

The 2 megapixel camera is easy to use thanks to an array of icons that sits on the screen, forming a sort of frame around the view through the camera's lens. Tapping any icon brings up associated options, which you tap again to select. The icons are large, and users who tend to have difficulty reading the (often rather small) text on Windows Mobile devices should find them accommodating. The camera's small LED flash is not very effective, and the self-portrait mirror is rather tiny.

To get the best out of the GPS receiver you will need to buy some navigation software. As it stands, the Glofiish X500 can pinpoint your position and altitude and can deliver an accurate reading of the time and date, all of which is displayed through an applet called GPS Viewer. Interestingly, the software also delivers a visual report of which satellites are being used to gain this information, overlaid onto an image of the earth. The SiRFstar III receiver was able to get an accurate reading when positioned indoors, near a window with a partial view of the sky.

The Glofiish X500 comes with an application called Location SMS, which automatically creates a text message that includes your current location. The software is pre-populated with a number of text messages, but you'll need to go through and check all of these to eliminate spelling mistakes and generally tidy up the writing.

E-TEN tends to provide a large array of software extras with its Pocket PCs, and the Glofiish X500 is no exception. Users may well find the FM radio to be the most welcome addition: this is quite a rarity in a Pocket PC, and could prove to be a useful feature.

To use the radio you have to fit the provided stereo headset. This uses a 2.5mm connector to the handheld, and the jack is located on the bottom-left edge of the casing. This is an awkward location when you want to use headphones with the device nestled in a pocket. We would have liked to see the headphones in a two-piece configuration allowing for a set with a 3.5mm jack to be used, as this provides the option to use your own headset.

Additional software includes several utilities for manipulating images, a backup utility, a speed-dial application; a 'Scenarios' manager that allows you to set up and switch between phone profiles, and a call filter that allows you to set up both 'block lists' and 'allow lists'. Control via voice commands is also possible, and there is a utility called M-Desk that replaces the Windows Mobile Today Screen with a tabbed icon-driven main screen. If you prefer the Windows Mobile Today Screen, you can opt to include large tappable icons on it, which themselves act as shortcuts to applications and settings.

Performance and battery life

We were impressed with the Glofiish X500's battery life. Pocket PCs rarely break 10 hours, but this device just managed to do so. Under our usual testing regime for Pocket PCs, where we ask it to play MP3 music with the screen forced to remain on, the device managed 10 hours and six minutes.

Although some of the screen visuals of the Glofiish X500 might not appeal to business users, many of the added applications could prove useful, and if you are prepared to buy navigation software and a vehicle mount plus a charger, then you have a complete handheld and navigation solution in one slimline device.

 

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