Pharos GPS Phone First Thoughts Review

by Reads (18,671)

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While smartphones in general have been a very hot topic of late, smartphones that have a specialized focus in music or mapping seem to have garnered even more attention.

GPS phones in particular are a growing segment because, besides getting us connected with people and places where we want to go, they help us during the journey.

The recently-announced Pharos 600 GPS phone is impressive in this regard. Its fashionable design and sleek form factor are at home in your purse or pocket, but its ability to tell you where the next restaurant is makes putting it on your dashboard a requirement for any trip.

Specifications

This Pocket PC is equipped much like other Wi-Fi enabled Windows Mobile smartphones, but with GPS capabilities added.

  • Quad-band (850/900/1800/1900) GPRS, EDGE
  • Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Edition
  • 2 megapixel digital camera (1200×1600 pixels) with GPS location stamping capability
  • 802.11b/g
  • Lithium-Ion Polymer swappable battery
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with enhanced data rate (EDR)
  • SiRF Star III GPS receiver with Ostia navigation software
  • FM Radio (when using included wired headset)

Impressions

When handling the Pharos GPS phone during the Consumer Electronics Show, I was taken aback by its size. This is mostly because it was extremely thin. It felt like I should have been carrying a much thicker device. In contrast to the Palm Treo 750 that was beside it, the Pharos model felt a lot like a credit card or small memo pad.

The buttons were tactile, but a bit hard to find. While I loved the design, the usability seems to leave a lot to be desired. It was hard to use the navigation pad without looking at it. Also, in the harsh light of the tradeshow floor, some of the etched buttons were hard to read.

That was not the case for the screen, however. There the colors and hues where clean and quite readable. The touchscreen of the demo model was responsive, and there were no delay between tapping on the screen and the function happening.

Even at this tradeshow, the Pharos Pocket PC’s GPS was active, and it did a great job of holding onto a signal despite the plethora of other devices in the vicinity.

The map was easily readable and seemed quite similar to the TomTom software (the Pharos uses navigation software called Ostia, which is developed in-house).

Conclusion

I came away quite impressed with the Pharos GPS phone. It is a re-brand of the E-Ten GloFiish phone, but that didn’t seem to matter. It’s quite usable despite my complaints with the buttons.

This smartphone will be available in February at national retail outlets and online.

Sadly, no GSM carrier would confirm with Brighthand that the Pharos GPS phone would be available through them.

You can read more about this device on Pharos’ web site.

Update: The GPS software that Pharos devices use is called Ostia and is developed by Pharos. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.

 

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