Garmin-Asus was on hand to show off its new nuvifone hardware. Both the G60 and M20 were available for some quality hands-on time. We took a look at both.
The G60 is all about tying together location-based services and cellular services. Nearly every application, it seems, ties into the phone's GPS system.
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As far as the hardware is concerned, it very much resembles you-know-what from a certain company based in Cupertino. But that's where the similarities end. The G60 is larger, thicker, and heavier than the iPhone, but it isn't terribly large. The size lets it include a generous display that was nice and bright. The few buttons the G60 has were positioned well and had good travel and feedback. The G60 is a bit large to carry around in your pocket, but not terribly so. It looks (and acts) more like a GPS unit that a true phone.
The main menu has three large items that are always accessible, the phone, search, and maps. Next to these three large buttons is a dock that can house multiple other applications, such as the browser, media player and so on. This dock sort of resembles the one used on Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, but it is different in that the applications are actual applications and not widgets.
For the most part, the G60 was responsive to touch input. Network and satellite performance were a bit slow, but we were in a crowded hotel in the middle of Barcelona. If we took the G60 outside, it might have performed better.
The applications all have a location component embedded in them. For example, with Ciao!, you can see the location of your buddies from multiple different social networks.
The contacts application will allow you to map a route directly from where you are located to a contacts' location, be it their home or work address. That's a nice feature.
All searches performed on the G60 will bring back local results. For example, if you perform a generic search for "hotels", the search results show you all the hotels located nearby, ranked in distance order. In the demonstration we saw at Mobile World Congress, the first search result returned was the hotel in which we were standing. In other words, the system works pretty good.
One cool feature is that the G60 has an accelerometer. Every single screen on the entire phone can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode. And they all look good. Garmin-Asus did a great job of making sure the screens all work well no matter which way they are viewed.
The hardware may not be the sexiest we've ever seen, but Garmin-Asus has done a lot of neat, innovative things tying GPS and cellphone features together.
The nuvifone M20 is not quite as impressive as its sibling, the G60. First off, it is a lot smaller. This may make it more pocket friendly, but this also means the screen is smaller. It was surprisingly light. In fact, it had almost no weight at all. The compact size and lack of heft make it extremely pocketable.
There are a collection of navigation buttons on the front. They all felt a bit on the cheap side. The plastics are not of the highest quality, and the build seemed a bit sloppy. This may be due to the pre-production nature of the unit we tested.
The M20 has a lot of the same basic features and capabilities of the G60, but the user interface is an overlay that sits on top of Windows Mobile 6.1. Unfortunately, the M20 was not nearly as responsive as the G60. The OS seemed to chug along forever before deciding to take action. I can only hope that this is based on the early version of the phone that was on hand.
Rather than feature the three large icons running up and down, the same three icons are placed along the very bottom of the M20's screen.
The rest of the screen is populated with applications that you'll interact with more often, including messaging, email, the browser and so on.
The M20 includes many of the same location-rich features of the G60, but includes Windows Mobile, making a better fit for business users.
The M20 seems like it could be a good device given more refinement. It needs to be more responsive to truly break new ground.
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