Glofiish X500+ is an upgrade of the popular model. But it got something more than just a plus in its name. In fact, its configuration has not been changed. Its modifications have to do with exterior - VGA display (640x480) and preinstalled Windows Mobile 6. There are also some minor changes. However, we have a question with regard to no configurational changes: will the new display and OS affect performance of this device? The X500 had no problems here, but the additional load still causes some concern.
ETen Glofiish X500+, general features:
ETen Glofiish X500+ (communications):
The case itself suffered almost no changes, but it has new coating - so called soft-touch. It's really soft and nice by touch. Although it looks bulky, this communicator fits even into a little palm without any problems. Its case is not slippery. It's equipped with the same buttons. Only the volume controls have marks now, so that you can easily grope for them as you talk.
The GPS and M-Desk buttons are located above the display. There are two phone buttons, context buttons, and a rectangular joystick under the display. The buttons are large and quite convenient to use, with a slightly tight stroke. The only gripe I have is with the joystick - it's very tight, and I sometimes scrolled two pages instead of one, when I read a book. You'll get used to it, of course. So scrolling pages won't be a problem. But it's irritating at first.
There is a camera button, a power button, and a reset hole on the right side. The left side houses volume control buttons, a voice recorder button, and a headphone jack (Jack 2.5).
The buttons are arranged well, just like in the previous model. But I again want to complain about the lack of a button to open the start menu and to close applications. On the other hand, a user can assign these functions to the context buttons, risking to run out of vacant buttons for all your needs.
There are no controls on top of the device. Its bottom holds a mini-USB jack, a microSD slot, and a stylus bay. The stylus is telescopic, quite long at that. I have the same gripe with its location as in the previous model - when you open the back lid of the communicator, the stylus always slides out of its bay.
The rear panel houses a lens of the 2-Mp camera, a LED flash, and a self-portrait mirror with a speaker near it. There is a connector for an external GPS antenna over the speaker protected with a rubber plug.
The communicator is highly ergonomic. The new case coating produces a very nice impression. I'd like to say special thanks for the marks on the volume buttons. As I have already mentioned above, I have only one gripe - there is no button to close applications. Assigning this function to a context button does not solve the problem completely, because context buttons are also frequently used.
Display is the most interesting feature of this device. The 640x480 resolution looks great on a 2.8" display. The display is very bright at that. It's still readable under direct sunlight even at half brightness. The maximum brightness level does not irritate the eyes, and the minimum level does not switch it off.
But this resolution expectedly has a negative effect on performance. To be more exact, applications start with a usual speed, but the screen refresh rate is noticeably lower than in QVGA models. The result is not comforting for users - your work slows down even in the explorer, when you scroll files.
There is another unpleasant issue. Fortunately, we noticed it only in our sample. The touch screen was not calibrated, and taps worked a tad below the place the stylus actually touched the screen. So it was difficult to tap even a usual icon, and I could master the screen keyboard only after a lot of exercise. I tried to recalibrate the display, but in vain. I repeat, this bug was found only in our sample. But it was a production sample. So you should be extra careful with the touch screen of a sample you want to buy.
The audio system was a pleasant surprise. The speaker is loud enough not to miss a call. MP3 files are played without distortions, the sound is soft, high and low frequencies do not rattle or disappear. The phone speaker and the stereo headset also sound well. You'll have to set their volume to maximum only in very noisy places. You can comfortably watch movies on the device, but I wouldn't recommend it for music playback. Music requires a specially designed device for high audio quality - at least a good Bluetooth headset.
GSM, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth interfaces
Wireless interfaces are enabled/disabled with the Wireless Manager application. As usual, there are no problems with Wi-Fi configuration - as you activate the interface and a new device is detected, the communicator displays a message with a list of networks to connect to.
There are also no problems with searching Bluetooth devices. The X500+ quickly found another communicator. It took them less than a minute to transfer a small JPEG file.
This communicator has the same radio module as in the X500. It works only with a headset, which acts as an antenna. The device stores up to 50 radio stations in its memory. Reception quality is high enough - I could listen to all popular FM stations in Moscow. Reception quality depends on your location, of course. The device is not immune to interferences.
The communicator uses a SiRFstar III module, just like the previous model. It's stable and works fast. A cold start takes about 40 seconds, hot start - 1-4 seconds. It holds the connection well even without an external antenna. But if you want to use GPS all the time, you should buy it just in case.
The communicator uses Satellite Data Update to work with its GPS module. You'll have to download maps for it, but it shows coordinates even without them. There is also a preinstalled Location SMS - this program allows to send your coordinates in an SMS message.
The X500+ has the same processor as in the X500, so there are no noticeable changes in performance. Office applications work fine, you won't have to wait for their response. Problems appear only when the entire screen is refreshed. For example, you'll have to wait when you look through web pages in a browser. This problem is entirely the fault of the VGA display. The new operating system does not affect performance at all or does it insignificantly.
The communicator has problems with video playback for the same reason. It does not cope with videos in its native resolution - it's not powerful enough. QVGA video clips run well. But you'll need another video player instead of the standard Windows Media, because it does not fit video clips to screen.
Battery life of this device does not break any records. But it's still decent, considering the configuration, especially the display.
In the standard usage mode with disabled wireless interfaces and the brightest backlight level the device works 6 hours 31 minutes. The result in video playback mode (VGA video played repeatedly) with the brightest backlight is 6 hours 14 minutes. Playing MP3 files with no backlight - 20 hours 6 minutes. Battery life with enabled Bluetooth and a maximum backlight level is 8 hours 5 minutes. Wi-Fi significantly increases the load on a battery - the communicator works only 3 hours 53 minutes with the brightest backlight in this mode.
Subjective impressions: the communicator works two days in case of the usual usage pattern (about 15 minutes of calls and 2-3 hours of reading books in HaaliReader a day). It takes a little over three hours to charge from the mains.
We've tested a production-line model, but not all its problems are final. It concerns responsiveness of the display in the first place. We've got a sample with a badly calibrated display. But we know for sure that it's not the problem of all models. Perhaps it was our bad luck. But I repeat that you should carefully inspect this issue, when you buy this device. It's a new display, after all. So there may be more problems with it than we expected. Alas, the other problem cannot be written off to a defective sample - slow screen redraw. The VGA display looks gorgeous, of course. Besides, it does not affect battery life as much as we expected. But it noticeably slows down some applications. This device will certainly disappoint those users, who want to watch VGA video on it, because it does not cope with this task.
In other respects, it's a good communicator with an excellent set of wireless interfaces and a nice design. The only gripe with its ergonomics was inherited from the older model - the hard joystick. Like the older model, the X500+ is an excellent GPS communicator. Its VGA display and Windows Mobile 6 only add some points. There is a single reservation: the display is a decoration rather than a new feature. By the way, you can update your operating system to WM6 even on the X500 - this model is actually faster.
Ludmila Princevskaya ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
August 29, 2007
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