Garmin’s had a long and positively defined run in the GPS business but tying up with Asus for a joint venture in mobile wasn’t necessarily the best idea. Although the handsets bearing the dual brands cater to the traveler in you and they’ve done well in that facet, overall functionality however has left much to be desired. This, the A10, their fourth attempt to woo the Indian audience, could be a turning point for the two companies and after testing the device, here’s what I think.
Other than the A50, which is yet to be announced for India, the A10 proves that Garmin-Asus hasn’t yet managed to crack the design issue. The A10, as light as it is, is still a tad bulky. The rear panel has a rubberized coat which makes it easy to grip and also ensures that it doesn’t slide easily across smooth surfaces. A power/screen lock button (that took usually long to activate the display) is located at the top near the 3.5mm handsfree socket. Volume/Zoom keys are on the right side and a Micro USB connector (charging/PC Connectivity) is located on the left just above the docking port for an in-car holder. Incidentally, neither a holder nor a car charger has been provided with the package. A microSD (2GB card included) hot swap slot is placed just under the rear panel on the right.
Too bad the dock isn't included
The A10 has a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen with 320 x 480 (HVGA) pixel resolution and 256k colors. This makes for easy viewing and comfortable navigation though the menus and otherwise. The three touch-sensitive keys located just under the display are a little over-sensitive. A slight shift in weight while typing will have you back on the home screen or pulling up the menus. Voice quality via the handset and speakerphone proved to be clear and audible for me as well as the person on the other side. For navigation of media, the speakerphone was extremely loud and clear.
Features and Performance
Asus has included a fully customized UI for the A10. You could switch back to the a more standardized Android Set up but the Asus Classic Home is a much better option that’s designed for easy access to apps and navigation functions. Running on a Qualcomm 7227 600MHz processor, the A10 is a pretty speedy device but response time in some cases is oddly slow. The onscreen keypad is bit sluggish and not very well laid out. My stubby fingers ended up putting smiley’s in most paces where there should have been a space. Another minor issue is that the accelerometer is a bit sluggish and menu rotation was anything but smooth.
Go with the A10's classic look (middle and right images)
Other than that Asus’ interface is easy to use, colorful and easy to navigate. The 4GB of internal flash storage is also extremely handy for saving apps since the A10 runs on Android 2.1 so you can’t install files on your SD card.
The handset’s media functionality is limited to just a music player with no frills like EQ presets (playlist creation is available) and a video player that reads 3GP, WMV and MPEG files (H.264, H.263 supported). So some measure of conversion will be required. Video playback was smooth and audio quality was crisp and clear. I do wish there were a few settings to adjust or the option to stretch videos to the fit the display but as is, the basic media options worked out just fine.
Could have had a few more settings for media
The device is 3G ready and also comes with Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP. For those of us not yet using 3G (which is a large number) you’ll have to settle for EDGE/GPRS speeds. Google bouquet of services is on board of course and that includes Google Maps with Navigation, Places, Latitude, YouTube, Gtalk and Gmail. You can also set up other POP/IMAP email services or sync it with Microsoft Exchange services. Facebook, Twitter and MySpace apps are preloaded onto the device with their respective widgets.
No flash support, but that's not a big issue
The core feature of the Garmin Asus A10 is of course its GPS functionality. It’s equipped with a Qualcomm GPSOne G7 chipset that’s very capable of quickly locating satellites and getting your current position. Garmin and NAVTEQ maps are preloaded onto the memory and work like a charm. They are extremely detailed and although the menus are relatively easy to navigate, the search option could have been better. Navigation is well planned out and if you’re not happy with the voice of the guidance system, you can record your own. Garmin’s Voice Studio allows you to record anyone’s voice and provides cues and phrases that you can repeat, record and store. Another handy function called My Parking Spot, allows you to automatically save the location where you’ve parked and removed the device from your car’s dock. This way you’ll always know where it’s parked.
Mapping systems are superb
Aside from the speedy GPS/aGPS single pick up, the A10 also comes with Garmin Asus’ social networking Ciao app for chatting with others on the same platform. Think of it as an alternative of sorts to Foursquare. On the whole, the GPS section of the A10 is a real winner.
The A10 comes with all standard mobile phone features like a Calculator, Calendar that syncs with your Google and Facebook accounts, unit converter and alarm clock. A few extras that the company has thrown in include an app to check your flight schedule and a document viewer (no editor). What you don’t see you can download off of the Android Market.
The A10's got all the standard stuff
A 5 megapixel camera is strapped onto the rear of the device. Features include geotagging of course, where the photos will show up on the map when you tap the little pin icon. It also comes with a few color effects and presets for light adjustment (Night, Cloudy, Office etc.) that pretty much translates to White Balance settings. Pictures, while appearing quite detailed even in low light conditions, seemed to be a bit unfocused towards the edges. Even in Night mode the A10 managed to perform quite well.
Slightly unfocused at the edges, but not bad on the whole
Video can be recorded in MP4 format or 3GPP for sending an MMS and the highest resolution it can record is just 320 x 240 pixels.
The 1500mAh battery can dish out decent daily usage if you’re not using GPS. On a single charge without GPS, I didn’t need to charge the handset for a good two days. Talk time averaged in at about 5 hours and change, falling short of Garmin Asus’ 9 hour prediction. However as is, it’s not bad at all. GPS does obviously suck the life out of the battery. If you’re using it in your car, hook it up to the charger, but if you’re using it pedestrian mode, you might want to make sure you’re not walking too far or you’re carrying an extra battery.
Find everything you need in your vicinity
The Bottom Line
The Garmin Asus A10 bears a price tag of Rs. 18,990 (MRP) which is not too bad all things considered. As a GPS device it’s far better than any of the other phones with preloaded maps. It works out quite well as a media device too. However, there’s no word on the device getting a Froyo update. The only drawbacks are the UI being just a little buggy in certain aspects; the car dock and charger are not included in the package which means an added expense and the handset could have had a slightly sleeker less mundane looking design. BUt if you are looking for a smartphone with optimized GPS functionality, the A10 should be at the top of your list.
|Screen Resolution||320 x 480|
|Number of Colours||65k|
|Internal Memory||512 MB SDRAM + 512MB ROM, 4GB eMMC Flash|
|EGPRS or EDGE||Yes|
Published Date: Dec 14, 2010 03:50 pm | Updated Date: Dec 14, 2010 03:50 pm