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Toshiba is not a name that we'd readily associate with mobile phones, but then this handset is not really your typical mobile phone. Instead, Toshiba is pitching the G450, which costs around £150 SIM-free, at those who want a HSDPA modem for their PC that has more functionality than the typical mobile broadband USB dongle.
The G450 is nothing if not striking. At just 98mm tall and 36mm wide, it's slightly smaller than a Milky Way bar. Its light too at just 57g, but what really makes it stand out from the crowd is the oddball design. The face comprises of there circles. The top one houses the tiny OLED screen, while the bottom two contain the number keys. These keys are backlit so they're easy to read even in complete darkness. The call quality is also surprisingly good considering the phone's small size, with both the mic and speaker delivering clear speech.
Most people, however, will buy the G450 to use with their PC or laptop as a HSDPA modem and in this regard, it performs well. When you plug it into your PC via the supplied USB lead it automatically installs the Toshiba Wellphone XT software.
Once you've entered the settings for your particular mobile network, you just click on the mobile Internet button and within a matter of seconds you'll be on the Web. The modem supports speeds of up to 3.6Mbps, but the achievable data rates will vary from network to network. We managed to get around 1.6Mbps out of it in London using our test SIM.
As well as the phone features, the device can also act as a pretty decent-sounding MP3 player so you can listen to tunes via the supplied stereo hands-free headset. You can also switch it into U-disk mode, to use it as a standard USB storage device.
Unfortunately, using the G450 as a normal phone is a torturous experience. The keypad and controls are ridiculously complicated to use. Moving through the phone's functions, including the MP3 player, involves using two rocker switches on either side of the phone. Each button performs a different function depending on what part of the menu system you're in at any one time, which is annoying. Even after using the phone for a while navigating to the right menu option is still a process of trial and error.
Things aren't helped by the tiny 96x39-pixel screen, as it's so small that every function requires a ridiculous amount of scrolling because there's simply not enough room to fit a sensible amount of text on the screen at any one time.
The phone side of the device also lacks basic features such as email support and a camera. It also only has a 160MB of free storage space, which means its USB disk mode isn't all that useful.
More disappointing is the absence of Bluetooth support. We're sure many people would prefer to be able to use the modem as a wireless device, rather than having to constantly carry around the USB cable. Bluetooth's slower data rate may stop you reaching the maximum data rate on some mobile connections, but it's a compromise that most people would be willing to make when they're out on the road.
Toshiba's aim with the G450 was to produce a HSDPA modem that was more useful than the standard mobile Internet USB dongle. However, it's debatable whether it's achieved what it set out to do, as although it works well as a HSDPA modem, it's a pig to use as a normal phone or MP3 player.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday