in Innovation, Mobile Phones

Toshiba TG01. A Quantum Leap In Mobile Design (Thanks To Qualcomm)

Yesterday Toshiba announced their TG01 product, a WindowsMobile 6.1 smartphone.

Toshiba TG01

Toshiba TG01

Let’s have a look at the basic specs:

  • 4.1 inches WVGA touchscreen color display
  • MicroSDHC slot up to 32Gb
  • 720p HD Video Playback

Fine, you will say, why are you so excited about this?

Well, the answer is: I definitely think that something is going to change in the mobile market after the release of this device.

The first thing, and the most important thing, is that this device is based on the new Snapdragon QSD2850 chipset from Qualcomm.

I have been working very closely with Qualcomm in the past years, they provide us with the chipsets for most of our local projects, and I have always been impressed by these guys. They have a vision and they can definitely execute on promise.

I first heard about Snapdragon about 15 months ago and I was impressed by the vision that Qualcomm had on the subject and by the power of the chipset itself. The basic idea behing Snapdragon is to build a new and efficient processor core with best of class 3G connectivity.

It is interesting to quote what Qualcomm writes on their website about Snapdragon:

Combine a 1GHz processor core, our sixth generation DSP and 3G connectivity with ultra-low power consumption to create new mobile devices with the performance to revolutionize the world of mobile computing. The Qualcomm Snapdragon platform empowers a new generation of Pocketable Computing Devices (PCDs) and Mobile Computing Devices (MCDs) that deliver real-time ubiquitous communication, high performance multimedia, location-aware content, full Internet browsing and productivity applications, all with the lowest levels of power consumption for all-day battery life.

When you deal with Qualcomm you know that this is not only marketing stuff. They are talking about real products.

Let’s have a look at the Snapdragon specs:

  • 1GHz CPU
  • 600MHz DSP
  • Support for Linux® and Windows Mobile®
  • WWAN, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Seventh-generation gpsOne® engine for Standalone-GPS and Assisted-GPS modes, as well as gpsOneXTRA™ Assistance
  • High definition video decode (720P)
  • 3D graphics with up to 22M triangles/sec and 133M 3D pixels/sec
  • High resolution XGA display support
  • 12-megapixel camera
  • Support for multiple video codecs
  • Audio codecs: (AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, FR, EFR, HR, WB-AMR, G.729a, G.711 , AAC stereo encode)
  • Support for Broadcast TV (MediaFLO™, DVB-H and ISDB-T)
  • Fully tested, highly-integrated solution including baseband, software, RF, PMIC, Bluetooth, Broadcast & Wi-Fi

They are definitely impressive.

You will probably say that this specs are not much different from any Intel Atom processor on the market.

That is true but there are a few things that make Snapdragon absolutely stunning:

  • Snapdragon has 3G, HSDPA and WiFi connectivity on board.
  • A-GPS is part of the core.
  • Broadcast TV Support.
  • A high efficiency DSP processor in the core.
  • Support for up to XGA display
  • An extremely low power consumption

This kind of approach paves the way for smaller devices since device manufacturer will not have the need to put on the board additional chips for advanced functionality. Almost everything you can dream as a customer is already in there.

As a direct consequence, price will be lower since the BOM will have less components.

The low power consumption will, finally, make these kind of devices really usable for more than a day. I had the opportunity to see a demo of the chipset and, even if I cannot disclose the real data, I can say that it really consumes a lot less compared to its nearest competitors.

Less power also means less heat to dissipate. This will lead to better electronic design and, finally, more usable devices.

During the demo I saw we had this reference design playing a high definition 720p video. I was asked to put my finger on the Snapdragon chipset. Well, if you ever tried to do that on a standard microprocessor you can rest sure that you will have left your fingerprint on the chip due to heat. Snapdragon was only warm and not hot at all.

Kudos to both Toshiba and Qualcomm.

In the recent past I had some concerns about Mobile Internet Devices or Pocketable Computing Devices as Qualcomm calls them. I was thinking that they were too close to a mobile phone and too far from a netbook to be successfull.
I have changed my mind. With this new kind of architecture you may really bring the power of a netbook in the form factor of a mobile phone.

As of today the Snapdragon chipset will support Windows Mobile and Linux even if Qualcomm already announced that will have also Android on the list of supported Operating Systems.

Sure, if the Toshiba TG01 was an Android smartphone that would have been perfect. We will wait and see.

One last word on the TG01. As you have read it is a Windows Mobile 6.1 device. On top of the standard Windows Mobile UI Toshiba has developed their own UI just like we have seen on HTC devices. This is a great choice but, gain, I think it is time for Microsoft to provide its OEMs with something more appealing.

Finally I would say that this is the first real competitor to the Apple iPhone.. if it only was Android…

  1. This has every possible buzzword your money can buy, but I'm concerned it's tied to the boat anchor that is Windows Mobile.

    Don't get me wrong, I've used Windows Mobile through every name change, ever since the first Casiopeia with WinCE 1.0. With a 1GB microdrive in the CF sleeve, my original Pocket PC iPaq was the iPod before the iPod.

    That said, having used every version, up to an including my current HTC Mogul with Windows Mobile 6, I can honestly say that Microsoft hasn't fixed some fundamental issues for the last decade.

    Let's start with memory management. Years back I read a WinMo program manager say they wouldn't let people close applications manually (you can but it wasn't convenient) because they didn't think users should need to manage memory in a portable device.

    What that left users with was a machine that would hang after prolonged use because of memory leaks. It still does, even if you shutdown your apps. Today it hung while an alarm was ringing and I had to pull the battery to get it to stop.

    The second issue is the Windows GUI paradigm. It was amazing that they could fit a Windows 95 style interface into WinCE 1.0. That quickly became old as menu bars took more space than the actual application. Even with a new shell like the HTC Touch, applications outside the shell still revert to the Windows-style controls and menus.

    Let's not even get started about the phone, which acts like it's a bolt-on application to the operating system. This is something an MS exec recently admitted, which means no amount of spin could deny it 🙂

    I credit the folks at MS for making Windows Mobile APIs similar to Win32 APIs so apps could be easily developed. But given the sea change in the market and where Windows Mobile is today, you have to wonder what could have been.

  2. I just tested the TA01 (name of the TG01 in Japan)
    with Windows Mobile 6.1.

    1) Toshiba delayed the shipping of units to shops
    because of a major bug that needs to be fixed (can’t dial certain numbers in Japan LOL:)

    2) Windows Mobile on that machine makes the TA01 touch screen unresponsive as hell compared to an Iphone (and this is not a bug it is just Windows Mobile), The icon look like they miss antialiasing and whoever designed the Toshiba cover interface has been learning design in Soviet Union during the cold war or something

    3) the Interface is completely idiotic

    4) If they do not put Android on it, it is just a waste of good hardware.

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