Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Pre-blog: Sony Ericsson P800 First Look

Ok, I've had my P800 for about a week now.  Here's my initial review:

It's great!  I tried it out extensively before purchasing it, and I was pleased by most of it's features...and for once, it seems to be an SE product that won't be plagued by too many hardware defects.  (I'll get to the software issues in a while)

The package comes with everything to get you started:
  • P800
  • 4 styli (1 on the phone, 3 extra)
  • 16MB Memorystick Duo
  • Memorystick Duo adapter
  • USB cradle (it's slow for USB)
  • Wrist strap (this clips to a loop inside the battery compartment at the bottom of the phone)
  • Nylon pouch (no, it doesn't have a belt loop)
  • Stereo headphones/handsfree
  • Charger
  • Removable keypad w/ alternate cover
  • 2 CDs (one for software, the other Multimedia)
  • Manual
  • Quick start guide
  • Accessory brochure.
First, the screen.  It's fairly good.  Don't get me wrong, I don't find anything wrong with it... Colors are a bit washed out for me.  This could be because it's a touchscreen, as I've noticed that most touchscreens (even on PDAs) are a bit lighter than their non-touchscreen counterparts.  I would recommend getting (or making) a screen protector right away since this device will go through a lot of use.
The removable keypad is, well, pathetic.  I don't use mine.  It's ugly, has poor tactile feedback, and the 'bump' on the 5 key is almost invisible so typing/dialing without looking is almost impossible.  And the phone looks way better without it anyway.  BUT... the keypad may have a few uses... one, it can serve as a screen protector when closed.  And two, it does allow one handed operation (SMS, dialing) that is a bit better than using the virtual keypad and your thumb.  It's difficult to use the P800 without looking at it though.

Signal reception is average, about the same as the T68i.  I initially thought I had problems regaining lost signal, but so far, that seemed to be a 'first day glitch' only.  I haven't had any signal (GSM/GPRS) problems since.

Communicam: about the same as the MCA-20 in terms of quality.  But it does offer lower compression, so if you intend to tweak things in Photoshop, you'll have better results using pictures from the P800.

Speakerphone is loud enough to use in a car, or relatively quiet room.  I initially found it strange that it was placed at the BACK of the phone though.  I did find that this setup worked better than the "proximity sensor" setup on the older Ericsson R520 (also found on the new Nokia 7650) as this way, your speakerphone doesn't get turned off by accident, and holding it up to your ear by accident isn't deafening either. (This also is an advantage if you're in a very noisy environment and need to use the speakerphone near your ear just to hear the other party)

Stereo headset jack is proprietary (it has 2 rings for stereo, and 1 for the mic) , but you can use a 2.5mm to 3.5mm stereo jack adapter to plug the P800 to bigger speakers for MP3 playback... you do lose the handsfree function if you do this.

Browser button is USELESS.  Press it with the flip closed, and it asks you to open the flip, since browsing cannot be done with the flip closed.  Open the flip, and you'll need the stylus anyway, so the "shortcut" button is something I wish they made 'remappable'.  The browser isn't the new Opera w/ small screen rendering yet, but it works fine for me...I can wait for the Opera upgrade.

Messaging is unified.  So all your SMS, EMS, MMS, Emails, beamed items (Anything received via IR or BT) & OTA messages are found under this menu. Sending a message is very straight forward, fields are clear and handwriting (Jot) is a breeze.  *Just a note: Palm is now going to license Jot to be used in the Palm OS, rebranded as Graffiti 2.
To send a message, there are two ways: One, go to the messages menu, click on create new SMS.  Two, while viewing a contact, you'll see 2 small envelope icons beside their mobile number... click on the one with the "play triangle" on it to send an MMS to that contact, or click on the regular envelope to send a regular SMS.

Battery life is only about a day or two after playing with the phone a lot. That's great life for a PDA, but only average for a phone.

Ok... now for the software...
Organizer, Contacts, Internet, Speed-dial and Messaging all work great.  I honestly like the look and feel of Symbian over Palm or PPC.  I like Palm OS 5 though.  Although some people had problems syncing with Outlook, I didn't experience any hitches with mine.  Works over cable, IR, or Bluetooth.
The phone is as multi-tasking as you can get given such a small device and the fact that it's PRIMARILY a phone.  While in a call, you can switch to speakerphone mode just by opening the flip...this way you can continue talking, while viewing, reviewing, or entering new info on the phone.  The call won't end by closing the flip, it'll just switch off the speakerphone. The phone actually can perform more tasks at once than a Palm can!  For example, I have TIPICme (this is a unified messenger for Symbian, it handles Yahoo, MSN, ICQ and AIM) running in the background while I'm surfing.  A call can come in, GPRS session is paused, call ends, surfing resumes and TIPICme is still running in the background.

The phone runs on an ARM9 200mHz CPU (yup, 200mHz), has 12MB onboard RAM (It's actually 16, but 4MB is used by the OS), and 16MB on the Memstick Duo. OS is Symbian's new UIQ (Symbian OS 7 Quartz ver 2.0)

The phone isn't perfect (yet)... most of its bugs are software related. Here are some bugs that are universal:
  • Warning Triangle flashing (this means a system failure occurred, press & hold the power switch until the phone shuts off, then turn it on again)
  • Communicam bug (displays SE logo instead of viewfinder, only restarting the phone can fix this)
  • Clock is inaccurate...sometimes late, sometimes fast... I haven't had any problems, but a lot of my friends experience this. -GPRS login inconsistencies... sometimes the phone has trouble logging in even though GPRS is available.
  • digitizer 'jumps' sometimes.
I feel I've left out a lot of other features... there are just so many on this phone.  If I remember anything else, I'll send in more info!  Hope this answers some questions.

John Lacson


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