TORQ P120 Smartphone Review

by Reads (37,581)

Introduction

If you’re looking for a unique Windows Mobile 5 based smartphone, you should take a look at the TORQ P120. Not “subsidized” by any particular mobile provider, you can use it on any GSM network that you have a SIM card for. The Torq P120 features GSM, Bluetooth, and Wifi (802.11b) radios in a nicely designed candy form factor. A nice large screen rounds out the impressive “cover” on this book, but does it stand up to judgement after flipping through its pages?

torq p120
[larger]

Note: The P120 is the same device as the ETEN M600

Design

The TORQ P120 is a candybar shaped smartphone (no keyboard). Finished in a matte black color (except for the top cap, which is glossy), it’s very attractive. The body has rounded corners that make it feel comfortable in your hand. It’s small enough to fit easily in a pocket (thicker than an HP 6515, thinner and about the same width as a Treo 700w) — just be careful of blows to the screen as there is no built-in cover.

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HP hw6515 on top of P120 [larger]

torq p120
Next to the Treo 700w [larger]

The main feature on the front is, of course, the screen. The 2.8 inch LCD has a resolution of 240×320 pixels. The screen is very bright, clear and easy to see even with the backlight at half strength. Near the top of the device, on either side of the screen, are two status LEDs. The one to the left of the screen flashes blue when the Bluetooth radio is enabled and flashes amber when the Wifi radio is turned on. With both radios on, you get two flashing colors. The LED on the right shows charge status (red while charging, off when charged), and status of the GSM/GPRS radio (yellow flash). Below the screen, there are 4 buttons and a 5-way directional pad. There is a button to access Contacts, one to access the M-Desk utility, a “green phone” button (to access the phone application and dial), and a “red phone” button to end calls. The directional pad is a little small for my fingers. The button in the middle of the pad (to confirm choices) is also too far down inside the pad to make it remotely easy to push. Also, I had problems with the directional pad in general as I had to push extremely hard to push the “down” direction.

torq p120
[larger]

On the back of the phone, you can remove the access door to access the battery and SIM card slot. Also, you’ll see the 1.3 megapixel camera, a light for the camera, and a nice little convex mirror for self pictures.

On the left side of the device (while looking at the front) is a spring-loaded slider switch to control the volume. While not on a call, it controls the volume of the device (screen taps, notifications, etc.). During a call, it controls the speaker volume. Also on the left side is a button to activate the camera application and to capture a picture. There is a “record” button, that by default, activates the Voice Command application with a click and with a “click and hold” action, activates the Record utility. A rubber covered headphone /ear bud jack hides on the left side, and finally, the reset button is can be found on the left side.

The top of the device has an SD card slot — yeah, not much to say here.

On the bottom edge, you’ll find a hole for the microphone, and the jack to plug the device in for charging or syncing. The AC adapter cord and USB cable “join up” for a single point of entry into the device or cradle. You can’t plug the charging cord directly into the phone, so you basically have to carry double the cables (since the jack into the phone is hardwired to the USB cable, only the AC adapter is removable from the whole set up). The stylus is also along the bottom edge. When you extract the stylus, it telescopes a bit to extend it to a nice length and it is nicely weighted to be comfortable in your hand. Once you insert the stylus back into its silo, it collapses down again to fit within the body of the device.

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Back of cradle with AC/USB cable inserted [larger]

Also included in the box is a leather/nylon belt clip case with a magnetic closure, an ear bud / headphone that has two ear buds for listening to music or you can just use the one to talk on the phone. There is a microphone a few inches down from the ear bud for placement by your mouth.

torq p120
[larger]

Ease of Use and Performance

Once I charged up the battery and inserted my T-Mobile SIM, the P120 booted right up and found the network. Usually the first thing that I do is set up ActiveSync to sync with my Exchange server — this went without a hitch. However, I found when I tried to sync the phone wasn’t connecting to the GPRS network. I had to manually set up the GPRS modem connection (in Connections) to get data to transfer. I’m not sure if this is a design decision, or if there is some technical reason not to do this automatically, but it was new to me.

Next, I started making calls. After having used the HP 6515, it was a little different using a device that didn’t have a keyboard. I thought to myself: “well, at least there’s a navigational pad to navigate around with”. (Famous last words) The directional pad was poorly utilized. In the phone application, you can’t really do anything with the pad. On other devices, I’ve been able to see my call history and scroll through them, but no luck on the P120. Another issue that I ran into was that the down direction on the directional pad required an extremely hard push to register. This may be a fluke issue, but could also hint at some build quality issues. The P120 does just fine as a phone, just be careful when you’re driving, as one-handed use really isn’t a feature of this device.

I also noticed another major usability flaw. There is an application, called M-Desk, that you can access by pushing the “Home” button. The application has 4 tabs (Phone, PDA, Fun, and System). You can go left and right on the directional pad to navigate the tabs and up and down to navigate through the items within a tab. However, you can only go up and down within the tab when there may be more than one column of items. If you press the “right” direction on the pad to move over a column, the application switches the tab.

A Wireless Manager application is included to let you control the radios on the device. I wanted to check out the WiFi, so I enabled the radio and waited. My networks, at home and work, were both detected quickly and I was prompted to enter my security information.

Another thing that I had issues with was the overuse of icons within the applications. For example, in the camera application, you can click a big wrench icon to access the settings. You are then presented with a frame of about a dozen icons around your live image from the camera. Unless you are well-versed in the manual or are familiar with the icons, you will end up doing a lot of trial and error to figure out what icon does what.

The Voice Command application worked well, allowing me to dial my contacts with a simple voice command. This software is very intuitive and easy to use.

The screen of the P120 is really nice. It’s big, crisp, and bright. I never had the backlight on more than half power. I did have some issues with the digitizer and it took me several times to get the screen alignment to “stick”. For the first couple days that I had the device, the screen alignment seemed to “drift”. The longer it had been since the last screen alignment, the more out of whack it got. The funny thing was that it only seemed to happen on the right side of the screen (where the tip of my stylus was several millimeters away from where it registered with the device).   After some more screen alignment, the screen was just fine for the rest of my review period.  Also, it seems as if there’s a protective layer on the screen, since I had to use slightly more stylus pressure than usual.  Later, when I was testing the batterywith the backlight at full power, I noticed some flickering with the screen. To resolve this, I just stepped back the backlight power one notch.

Processor

This device sports the Samsung S3C 2440 400 MHz processor. The processor was very snappy and responsive under normal use.

Operating System

Windows Mobile 5

Display

The display, a 2.8 inch 240×320 screen was bright and easy to see, even if the backlight wasn’t on all the way. It was perfectly viewable in direct sunlight.

torq p120

Memory

The TORQ P120 has 128MB of SDRAM and 64MB of flash ROM. If you need more, there’s an SD card slot.

Size & Weight

The size and weight was “pleasing”. It slips into a pocket well and feels sturdy. It is 4.4″ x 2.4″ x .87″. It weighs in at 5.82 ounces with battery.

Expansion

An SD slot on the top of the device is the primary method for expansion. The Bluetooth connection also allows some expansion.

Docking

The included cradle is very attractive. It has an extra slot to charge a spare battery. You can plug the USB/AC adapter cable into the back and put your phone in the cradle to charge.

Communication

The phone has a quad-band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) GSM/GPRS radio, 802.11b Wifi radio, and Bluetooth 1.2 radio.

Audio

The speaker and speakerphone were good as long as you didn’t max it out. Once the volume was maxed out, the audio was tinny-sounding and distorted. With the speakerphone at maximum volume, the phone is not really usable. However, the volume was sufficient for talking on the phone in a loud car at highway speeds.

Battery

With my everyday use — a handful of text messages, three or four manual syncs with Exchange using Wifi and/or GPRS, 2-3 short phone calls — I got about 3 days before I had to charge. As an extreme test, I turned all the radios on (GSM, Bluetooth, and Wifi) and got about 2 hours of use off a full charge. If you set up your ActiveSync to sync with Exchange on a regular schedule (like every 10 minutes), you will see much shorter battery life.

Camera

The camera is a typical one that you’ll find in a phone. Not amazing quality, but if you have a stationary subject and a decent amount of light, you may get a good image. The camera can capture 1.3 megapixel (1280×1024) images.

torq p120 torq p120
Sample shots from camera

Conclusion

The Torq P120 is a break from the “same old” phones that you can get from the mobile providers, but it comes at a cost. As the smartphone isn’t “subsidized”, its going price is $620. The device is nice looking and has a nice screen, but it falls short in some areas. The speaker (and speakerphone) performance was less than ideal and the device had some usability issues and possible build quality issues. Having a Wifi radio is a great feature, but not good enough to justify the price tag and the other downsides to the device.

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Nice size, attractive design
  • Wifi radio (along with GSM and Bluetooth)
  • Windows Mobile 5 OS

Cons

  • Not widely available and expensive, at $620
  • Speaker volume unimpressive and speakerphone unusable at high volume
  • Not very usable (and definitely not for one-handed use)

Purchase Info

Sound Solutions is the exclusive distributor in the US, however their website is under contruction. You can call them at 801-495-2171 with interest.


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