The music player has gotten an overhaul from the previous iterations and the interface looks much, much better now. Music via the bundled earphones (not in-ear ones) is decent and the tone quality is pretty good; we’d have loved the decibel levels to be a tad louder though. The audio enhancements allow for that extra bit of tweaking to provide you with a better audio experience.
The media interface
As far as video playback is concerned, the stock player is limited to MP4 and WMV files. 1080p files refused to play on this dual core handset. Third party apps help you out with the other codecs but strangely, 1080p videos stuttered way too much on the Sola - something we experienced on the Xperia U as well. This brings out our earlier rant as well - in the real world scenario, there’s not much difference between 720p and 1080p on a phone, but if the phone’s got the hardware to run it, then it better run it.
Interestingly, we faced a couple of issues with the display of our review unit. Randomly, it would just throw up a fuzzy screen with lines and we’re guessing this could be a software glitch. It must be a BRAVIA display and all of that with brilliant sharpness and saturation, but our unit had problems of its own as can be seen below.
Display problems? Silent or vibrate?
The Sola, like the U, is a quad band handset that has its connectivity options well covered. There’s 3G, GPS, Wi-Fi and DLNA. There’s USB host support and NFC as well, which gives this phone some more future proofing as compared to other similarly priced handsets. The stock browser is quick for image heavy sites, but once the loading is done, manouvering is laggy and not something we’d recommend somebody. Another interesting feature that is part of the Sola is the floating touch. Though it sounds amazing when spoken about, it’s downright pointless in real life, as you have to aim and place your finger just that perfect distance above the screen. And where does it work? Only for scrolling text in the browser. To sum it up in one word - gimmick. Third party apps perform much better for browsing. Facebook inside Xperia allows for some good social networking integration. The earpiece and the speaker are loud enough during calls and the recepient could hear us clearly.
The device comes with two programmable NFC tags. What this means is that you can program each tag for a specific purpose, like set a profile, an alarm and open an application. For example, if there’s a tag by your bedside you can simply tap it and your settings will change to the ones you have set earlier - for example, vibrate, a 7 oclock alarm etc. Tags allow you to share URLs, contacts, texts etc'. as well. It’s a pretty neat feature and the fact that there are two bundled tags means you can use the NFC function to good effect.
The NFC tags - an interesting start
These include the usual Google apps plus TrackID, News and Weather, Wisepilot, NeoReader, Power Saver and Office Suite. There’s a dedicated ‘recommended Apps’ app as well and a LiveWare manager (for connecting accessories) and Tags - for changing, editing profiles of your existing NFC tags. A link to download the Music Unlimited app is included as well, but unfortunately the app isn’t available for Indian shores.
Updated 25 May, 2013, 6:56 pm IST
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