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Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
These days it’s not merely how speedy a mobile’s OS is or how well the handset is designed that could make or break its sale. The user interface plays a very very significant role in determining just how good a mobile handset really is for the money you have to shell out. Sony Ericsson recently introduced their Timescape and Mediascape UI’s in the Xperia X10 Android phone and here’s what my experience was with the handset.
Employing Sony Ericsson’s Human Curvature design the Xperia X10 in both Black and white are sleek looking handsets. It’s easy to manage and quite the contrast to Motorola’s MILESTONE, from its light weight and smooth form, to the larger 4.0-inch scratch-resistant capacitive touchscreen display. The resolution is almost the same, although at 480 x 854 pixels, the Xperia features 65k colors while the MILESTONE’s is 16 million, not that you can tell the difference at just a glance. Viewing data, messages, videos etc. in broad daylight is not a problem, the details are all clearly revealed. The three keys below the display – sub menu access, home button and previous screen key make getting around the system an easy task.
The Screen Lock/Power button is placed on the top beside the 3.5mm hands-free port and the micro USB port. Volume/Zoom keys are on one side above the 8MP (with LED flash) camera’s shutter release/activation button. Like the MILESTONE, the Xperia is devoid of a hot swap slot for the microSD card. Then again, it’s not a cause for concern as the bundled 8GB card plus 1GB of internal memory and easy USB access won’t require you to remove the card at all.
On the whole, the Xperia a funky looking handset that is designed to be comfortable to use and easy to manage, delivering on both counts. Read on to find out just how well it functions.
Features and Performance
The standard Android UI (v1.6) works out just fine and all actions work smoothly enough, thanks to the Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon 1 GHz processor. It’s quite smooth and there’s no visible lag. I could have used a few more default widgets for the multiple desktops but it’s not something all users would take an issue with. I did have one major problem with the first piece I was sent though, it refused to allow me to send text messages and there seemed to be no way to access the messages center settings to check if the right number was inserted. I had the very same problem with the second test piece I received and after almost a week of usage, it just switched on by itself rather mysteriously. If you’ve had a similar issue, do let us know. Facebook and Google integration with contacts was not as well managed as it was in the MILESTONE and all of HTC’s handsets. Multi-touch is also absent. Keeping the home key pressed pulls up the list of all running apps.
Timescape and Mediascape are very intuitive interfaces that offer quite a bit of functionality to the social networker and media lover. However, it seemed like both of these UI’s take quiet a heavy toll on the 1 GHz processor as switching screens, updating yours status etc. was a bit sluggish. If either of these UIs were running in the background, the entire handset seemed off balance. The virtual keypads became sluggish and unresponsive requiring me to type and retype all messages, e-mails, updates etc. I suggest removing the ‘periodic update’ option, as things will work out much smoother that way.
Timescape allows you to easily access and update your Facebook and Twitter accounts and also shows for your e-mails, phone’s Log, messages and recently accessed media – photos and music. Mediascape sorts out all of your media files and you can also have online albums etc. on hand for quick access. One truly unique feature that I found very handy with Mediascape was the linking and search option. With music files you can find corresponding information on the artist, song etc. with a direct YouTube link or though Google searches. Using facial recognition software Mediascape allows you to track photos with the same people and tag them as well for easier access.
The handset’s audio capabilities are just about average. Audio quality is not in question neither is the decibel level at which it’s delivered. However, other than the extras like locating extra information about the track or artist, the music player doesn’t offer much else. The UI is just slightly funkier than the native version to suit the look and feel of Mediascape. The large screen facilitates comfortable video viewing if you can find the right conversion software for the same as DivX and XviD support for the handset is still not something Sony Ericsson has adopted yet. There’s no FM radio which again, could quite a drawback for some. There is also no image editing option or voice recorder available.
Sony Ericsson was also supposed to have provided an exclusive MTV application with the X10, at least that’s what they announced at the launch. That was not available either. Sony Ericsson’s TrackID feature comes preloaded though. The PlayNow Arena still seems quite un-ready for India as a ‘No content available for your region’ error popped up every time I tried accessing it.
3G, EDGE/GPRS and Wi-Fi are the handsets primary modes of internet connectivity. The browser is as versatile as ever, a non issue as usual. Timescape handles Twitter and Facebook, but a Facebook for Android app is also on board for which a widget can be placed on one of the desktops. The Android YouTube and Gtalk apps are also preloaded as part of the Google package. As part of the same set up the Google Mail app is also available in addition to the Email application for multiple POP and IMAP accounts.
Like in all Android based handsets you can sync your handset with online services like Google. The Xperia also offers users the option of syncing your device with their own service called Sony Ericsson Sync. A host of Moxier services has been preloaded for those who have, or wish to, create new accounts for data backups etc. Google Maps and Wisepilot (free for three months) are available for use with the handsets GPS modules. Images can also be geotagged with location data. The Android Market place is a great way to get other handy applications for all purposes.
Other than the standard features like a Calculator, Calendar and Alarm Clock, the X10 comes with Voice dialing capabilities and an Office Suite that allows you to open MS documents Including PPS and PPT files as well as PDF. For security, you can use the Pattern Unlock option for the handset, but you’ll still have to unlock the screen first. Sony Ericsson has also included their famous QuadraPop game with the handset. Anything else you need can be downloaded from the Android Market.
The 8MP camera with its LED flash is capable of producing really good images. Pictures are quite crisp and the details, even on close inspection, are not bad at all. Some of the darker colors do tend to get a bit mixed together but not enough to make the picture unclear or tarnished.
There are also quite a few settings from auto scene recognition, to face and smile detection, image stabilization, touch-focus (which is not nearly as good as HTC’s) and plenty of scene modes to choose from. Video recording is not bad at all. It offers Wide VGA, QVGA and YouTube resolutions as well as a few scene modes here too.
Stand alone talk time was impressive and easily averaged in at over 4 hours and 15 minutes. The problem with most Android handsets is that the OS is designed to be in a ‘Constantly on’ setting for social networking emailing etc. that takes a serious toll on battery life, and like most other Android handsets the Xperia also tends to drain very quickly if you’re constantly updating and checking your account. However you’ll easily get a day and half of usage including calls, social networking, camera usage and music on a single charge, which is quite impressive.
The Bottom Line
The X10 comes with price tag of Rs. 35,795 (MRP), which is a little over priced in my opinion. With handsets like the Legend and the MILESTONE priced so much less than the X10, it’s going to have a really tough time gaining a foothold. While it does have a few interesting features like the Timescape and Mediascape UI, it falls short with the lack of better media options. Sony Ericsson’s own Vivaz beats it out in the camera division with 720p video recording, but the battery life is definitely a winner. The only problem is that as good as the handset may be in terms of looks, it’s feature set just doesn’t justify the price, not when there are options that are as good and are better priced.