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Sony Ericsson Xperia X1
For a detailed description of the handset check out the preview here. Just to give you a quick run through, the Xperia is a heavyweight, literally, weighing in at 145g. The large display is clear and well lit but extremely reflective, which proves to be an annoyance in brightly lit areas. The buttons are well placed and the optical navigation pad is a bonus.
The smooth slide out QWERTY keyboard is well designed and its curved shape makes for very easy typing and navigation. SE has gone with mainstream standards in the X1. It has a 3.5mm earphone socket, microSD card slot and a mini USB slot. The 3.2MP camera located at the rear has a single LED flash.
Features and Performance
Panels and UI
If you've seen one Windows Mobile OS you’ve pretty much seen 'em all. Of course these days manufacturers tend to customize home screens to enhance the users' experience like HTC’s TouchFLO 2D and 3D interfaces. SE’s Xperia Panels are their ways of doing the same. So far I found it very difficult to actually download more panels anywhere except from the Sony Ericsson website either via PC or OTA (over the air).
The panels had their own charm, some of them at least. The others offered quick access to various necessary and relevant applications and features while some were more specific or should I say dedicated like the Facebook or Google Panels. That takes a really long time to do anything but is nevertheless a very useful and well designed Panel. The Spb Panel allows a certain amount of personalization so that’s handy. I like the technology of quick-access multiple desktops like this, although some of them do appear a little too crowded and that tends to make touch navigation a problem. I also found that the Panels take a little while to refresh. For instance, if a message of a missed call has been viewed the Panel will still show it as Unread or a missed call pending although the icons on the top portion of the display have disappeared.
A couple of the Panels are a real pain when it comes to accessing the handset's basic functions like the phone book. For instance, the Media Panel that looks like a typical SE handset’s Multimedia screen doesn’t seem to pick up SIM contacts at all and there don’t seem to be settings to allow that either.
The rest of the handset is a typical WinMob handset. Using your fingers to navigate and access certain portions of the screens like the corners is not very easy for stubby fingers. Most women and perhaps surgeons may not have too much to worry about in this case. But it’s still workable for most part without the use of the stylus. The keyboard is great and has all the necessary shortcuts you’ll need rendering the tiny onscreen keyboard, Transcriber Block recognizer or the other display oriented methods of input redundant.
Even with a Qualcomm MSM7200 528MHz processor, the handset I received for testing was horribly slow. After sending a message, the option to dismiss the ‘Message Sent option’ will stay onscreen for at least 20 seconds before it gets processed. That’s just the simplest thing I could think of at this moment, believe me, there were a few other instances. Again it could be an issue with just this one handset; nevertheless it’s something to think about.
In case you’re wondering, the X1 does have an FM radio. In fact it has a dedicated Panel for it even though you won’t find an icon anywhere in the menus. The reception, while commuting or otherwise was quite impressive actually. The handset also features a built in Voice Recorder that has good range since the speakerphone manages to pick up audio from quite a distance as well.
A few things I didn’t like about the Xperia’s media experience –
- Firstly Windows Media Player doesn’t allow for resumed playback of videos and audio and although the decibel level is quite decent the overall quality could have been better if EQ settings were available like in some of the other WinMob devices.
- Secondly, I preferred the use of the Sony Ericsson media player from the Media Panel since it had a ‘resume playback option’ but it seemed like every time I needed to pull up the menu to even increase the volume the video would get paused. Go figure.
- The ‘flicking’ option for scrolling through images is also ‘glitched’, for lack of a better term. While viewing one image a swipe in a direction won’t go to the next image. Instead it opens up the whole gallery once again and you’ll have to use the onscreen buttons for navigating the image gallery.
On the plus side the brilliant 480 x 800 pixel display looks great for pretty much all media including videos and images provided you're not trying to view any in bright daylight. Don’t let the fact that it supports just 64K colors as opposed to 256K or 16 million deter you in anyway. The odds of you making out the difference are a million to one. The 3.5mm earphone socket makes it very convenient to use a set of your own earphones for a better audio experience.
The Xperia is equipped with an integrated GPS receiver that uses Google Maps as the native mapping software. For the price, I expected something better. SatNav, Route66, hell even Nokia Maps would have been a better option. Google Maps, although a great application is not something you’d expect to be using in a GPS enabled handset with A-GPS support.
Quick GPS is available for enabling the handset to help it determine the GPS mapping co ordinates a little quicker.
All the regular features you'd expect to find in a WinMob device are present. From MS document viewers and editors to the more mundane features like an Alarm clock, Calendar, Notes section, Tasks, the regular games like Solitaire and Bubble Breaker with a few others like Bejeweled and Sudoku thrown in. The Search option and e Java support are also part of the features available.
From simple WAP access to 3G support (HSDPA up to 7.2 Mbps) and everything in between like EDGE and GPRS (Class 10) support, the Xperia is equipped for all connectivity requirements. The handset supports Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP) and of course USB 2.0. Data transfer and back via ActivSync is extremely quick and painless. The Opera and standard WinMob IE browsers are both available for browsing. The best part about a WinMob handset is the quick and painless way of setting up IMAP or POP3 accounts. The handset does everything with minimal input from you.
Once again we see a Windows Mobile device that has no automatic settings for BPL users, so you’ll have to manually configure your GPRS/EDGE settings if you’re a BPL subscriber. Activating and deactivating connections is a cinch from the Comm. Manager menu. Access to Windows Live, Streaming Media, Internet sharing options and Messenger are also present.
The Xperia’s 3.2 megapixel camera has quite a few settings to choose from including a ‘Widescreen’ setting. One issue is that access to these settings could have been made a lot easier like in the Cybershot series. Features included are White-balance settings, a few scene modes, Burst mode and a self timer. The problem with the camera seemed to be focus. It took unnecessarily long trying to focus on anything either in well lit or normal conditions. If you’re looking at a ‘Kodak moment’ style image forget it. The moment will be long gone before you can capture it.
Images taken during brightly lit conditions tend to have a lot of artifact and similar colors that blend into each other. I kept the camera focused and on a timer so as to avoid jerky movements and I was expecting a lot more from that. In native resolution the images are not too sharp.
Macro images were a problem because of the handset’s inability to stabilize and focus on the subject. But when it does, after a while, the reproductions are not bad all.
The battery life of the Xperia X1 was average at best - with a day and half of average use for music, browsing, a few calls and messages and a little gaming thrown in. Talktime clocked in at about 4 hours and 05 minutes but I expected much more. All of these results were with the battery saving mode active so it was quite a disappointment.
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 40,000 I think you won’t miss much if you give the Xperia a pass. The Panels, although I will admit are handy, are just a gimmick to jazz up an otherwise average Windows mobile handset. The Keyboard is the absolute highlight of the handset as well as the overall design, but i was not particularly happy with the performance. It is still my belief that it could possibly be an issue with this one handset and no other, then again, why would the company provide a reviewer with a handset that wasn’t functioning at optimum capacity.
Sony Ericsson Xperia X1
GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G, EDGE
|Physical||110.5 x 52.6 x 17 mm, 145g|
|Display||800 x 480, 65k colors, TFT Touchscreen, 03-inches|
|Memory||512MB internal, microSD external |
|Media||MP3, AAC, WMA, 3GP, MPEG4, Voice Recorder, FM radio |
|Camera||3.2 megapixel AF, LED flash |
|Connectivity||USB v2.0, Bluetooth with A2DP, Wi-Fi, GPS (A-GPS support)|
|Battery||450 hrs standby, 4 hrs 05 mins talktime |