E-TEN Glofiish X800

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent

Pros

  • 3.5G (3G with HSDPA)
  • Front- and rear-facing cameras
  • Wi-Fi
  • VGA display
  • Business card scanner
  • Generous software bundle

Cons

  • Fiddly microSD card slot
  • Sluggish performance at times
  • Relatively bulky

E-TEN is a prolific producer of Windows Mobile handhelds, and the company tends to come up with robust and well specified devices. GPS, for example, is integrated into all its handhelds, from entry-level to flagship.

The E-TEN X800 certainly packs in the features, and displays something else the company likes to achieve — a first. It's the first handheld to combine its particular range of top-end specifications with a high-resolution display. Our review sample came from Expansys.

Design
This is a fairly large handheld measuring 113.5mm tall by 60.5mm wide by 15.8mm thick and weighing 147g: you will certainly notice in a pocket. The screen measures just 2.8in. from corner to corner, and there's plenty of space above and below it. E-TEN has worked hard to cram functionality inside the device, though, and we must assume that there's not a millimeter to spare.

In terms of looks, E-TEN goes for a classic silver and black styling, but has added a few red flourishes. There's a red frame to the front-facing video camera and another on the rear-facing main camera; red icons aslo mark four of the under-screen buttons. E-TEN says that professional users are as likely as anyone else to want a bit of style from their handheld, and the red touches are certainly rather appealing.

Beneath the screen sit no fewer than eight shortcut buttons. In their centre is a mini-joystick. The Call and End buttons are on the far left and right edges of the button area, and are large and easy to hit accurately. At the very bottom sit the Windows Mobile Start and OK buttons. Both of these are very close to the lower edge of the X800, and they are not easy to hit at speed, although raised ridges on each do help a little.

To the left and right of the mini-joystick are the two softmenu buttons, one with a Home icon and one with a GPS icon. The latter’s function is pretty obvious: it activates the GPS receiver and the GPS Viewer software, which gives you information about your current position. The former launches an icon grid onto the screen which allows you to select from nine features with a single screen tap. These include switching to landscape mode, changing profile, using the LED flash on the camera as a torch, accessing the calculator and bringing up the Windows Mobile Task Manager.

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In general mini-joysticks are not our preferred navigation method, and this one does little to change that view. It's located close to the bottom edge of the device, and so it can be difficult to get a purchase on. We find flat navigation buttons much more ergonomic.The joystick protrudes quite a way from the fascia too, and may be susceptible to damage.

The Glofiish X800 is one of a select few Windows Mobile handhelds to sport a 640-by-480 (VGA) screen. In our opinion, the extra pixels really do make a difference, especially when you're looking at complex web pages or spreadsheets. The stylus, which lives in a housing on the bottom back right edge of the device, is a little lightweight and short for our taste.

The Glofiish X800 comes with an AC adapter, a USB PC cable, a stereo headset (a 2.5mm connector is on the bottom left edge of the device), a tough pouch with belt clip, a screen protector and a spare stylus. A printed quick-start guide is included, but the full manual is on CD.

Features
The E-TEN Glofiish X800 runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional. It's a quad-band GSM phone with GPRS/EDGE and 3G/HSDPA support. It's E-TEN's first 3.5G handheld.

The processor is Samsung’s SC3 2442 running at 500MHz. The device has 256MB of flash ROM and 64MB of SDRAM. Out of the box, our review sample reported 145MB of free storage memory. There's a microSD card slot on the bottom edge, protected by a hinged cover. Getting cards into the slot was no problem, but we found it rather fiddly to remove them, both because the slot itself is recessed a long way back and because the cover got in the way. Don’t plan to swap cards frequently if you want to avoid frustration.

Both Bluetooth (2.0) and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) are built in, and we've already noted the integrated GPS receiver, which is the customary SiRFStar III chipset. The X800 did a very good job of finding and maintaining satellite connections, even doing so when sitting on a desk half a metre away from one end of a bay window with only a partial view of the sky.

The front-facing 0.3 megapixel camera is primarily for video calling, while the rear-facing camera is a 2 megapixel unit that can shoot stills and video. There's an LED flash unit, which is quite powerful, and also a self-portrait mirror. The main camera has a helpful auto-focus facility and is also used in one of the many add-on applications offered by E-TEN, Namecard Manager. This is a business card scanner that can extract information from business cards and insert it into the Windows Mobile Contacts application. We found this to be remarkably effective. Just for good measure, E-TEN has also built an FM radio into the X800.

We have already mentioned some of the software E-TEN adds to Windows Mobile 6 Professional. There is plenty more. The Today screen benefits from what E-TEN calls its 'Mobile Shell'. This is actually a cut -own version of a commercial application, SPB Mobile Shell. It offers four tappable icons that provide access to photo contacts, weather forecasting (downloaded over the air), alarm management and three different time zone clocks, plus a battery life icon that, when tapped, provides access to a range of the applications on the device.

If the Windows Mobile Today screen is not to your liking, an alternative, M-Desk is provided by E-TEN. This groups applications into four tabbed areas: Phone, PDA, Fun and System. Each application or system area is represented by a large icon. The other bundled applications include: a backup utility; Location SMS, which can be used to send a text message carrying your current location in latitude and longitude to another device; a call filtering application that lets you define 'block' and 'allow' lists for both voice calls and SMS messages; and a speed-dial utility that ranges ten contacts at once across the screen, allowing access to each via a large tappable icon.

Performance & battery life
Despite its 500MHz processor, we found the X800 occasionally a bit sluggish in its response to screen taps. Performance is not a deal-breaker, but at times it can be a little irritating.

E-TEN gives detailed battery ratings for the X800 quoting all of the following: 5-7 hours talktime, 120-150 hours standby, 10-15 hours Pocket PC usage, 2.5-5 hours GPS usage.

We tested battery life by asking the X800 to play music continuously from a microSD card with its screen permanently on. It delivered just over seven hours of music from a full battery charge, which puts it an hour ahead of HTC's Touch Dual and 90 minutes ahead of the same company's TyTN II. This is achieved despite the X800's higher-resolution screen, which is a significant battery drain.

Conclusion
The X800 is highly specified, both in terms of hardware and software. Some business users may find it a little too consumer-focused for their needs, but the combination of 3.5G connectivity, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, high-resolution screen, front and rear digital cameras, and business card scanner should prove appealing.

 

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