The SonyEricsson W980 Walkman Phone

My wife recently got a new cellphone. After having spent hours reading specifications to her, she finally decided on a W980 from SonyEricsson. As far as a “plain” mobile phone goes, this one hits very close to perfect. My first thought when I opened the box (yes, I need to inspect *all* toys 🙂 was “Helllloooo Mr Gadget!”. The W980 is the latest in SonyEricsson’s Walkman-series. It’s a flip-up type construction, which means it’s very nice and small when folded. It features two screens; one is used when the the phone is folded, to notify of new messages, show which song is playing and so on. The larger screen is used when you flip the phone open to actually “use” it.

Unlike some other non-smartphones, the SonyEricsson W980 features some intelligent connectivity in the form of SyncML (allows you to synchronize contacts, calendars, and so on with a remote server), RSS-feeds, and Java. This makes it harder to dismiss the product as a toy or “just a phone”. It does have some “fun” features as well; PictBridge, Camera (3.2mpx) w/support for video, Photoblogging, Radio; obviously, the W980 being a “walkman phone”, it features a great music player. The phone comes with 8GB of internal memory, with no support for an external memory card. Sure, I’d like to have seen 16GB or 32GB of internal memory, or support for an external memory card. But to be fair, 8GB is fairly sufficient for a good mix of tunes.

What makes the SonyEricsson W980 such a nice product can be summarized with one word: BALANCE

It’s small, but not too small. It’s lightweight (100g/3.5oz). It’s flip-up design protects the phone and makes it fit nicely in your pocket. The buttons are just right for people with normal hands. The headphones/handsfree that comes with the phone delivers good-enough sound for a music player. It’s 3G (UMTS and HSDPA), it’s quad-band GSM (use it in most places on the globe).

I think the only “bad” thing about it that I’ve found is the camera. Not that it doesn’t do nice photos, but it’s not 100%.

Go check it our for yourself on SonyEricsson.com

Sony Ericsson P1i – first impressions

Having used the Sony Ericsson P990 smartphone for some time, it was with some anticipation I opened the box to the new Sony Ericsson P1i. The P1i is, or appears to be, a M600i with “smart phone add-ons”. For those having used the P-series (P8xx, P9xx), the P1i makes for a welcome change in its much slimmer appearance and handling.

One of the most irritating things with the previous P-series is that Sony Ericsson insisted on enabling “animation effects” in the operating system; sliding selectors, fade-in, fade-out, icon effects, and so on. Later versions of the P9xx firmware allowed for an option to disable this. Why anybody who has half a finger in the right place would want these stupid effect in a telephone is way beyond my comprehension. To make a long story short, the P1i comes equipped with an option to disable the fireworks.

Continue reading Sony Ericsson P1i – first impressions

Why smartphones aren’t clever

On Wikipedia, and from other similar sources, one can read something to the effect of

A smartphone is a full-featured mobile phone with personal computer like functionality. Most smartphones are camera phones that support full featured email capabilities with the functionality of a complete personal organizer. An important feature of most smartphones is that applications for enhanced data processing and connectivity can be installed on the device, by contrast to regular phones which support sandboxed applications. These applications may be developed by the manufacturer of the device, by the operator or by any other third-party software developer. “Smart” functionality includes any additional interface including a miniature QWERTY keyboard, a touch screen, or even just secure access to company mail, such as is provided by a BlackBerry

Today, I had the questionable privilege of witnessing two very modern "smartphones" being unable to complete the simplest of tasks. My wife is evaluating a HTC S710. Before she can really use it, she has to move contacts, calendar entries, etc. from her current Sony Ericsson P990i. The usefulness of a common SIM-card standard is long gone, but there are a number of other ways of doing this. Some involve bridging the gap with Outlook, others by means of using some sort of synchronizer. If you don’t have a zillion entries, BT-zapping (using Bluetooth to transfer one or more entries from one device to the other) seems like a logical path.

Only, transferring more than one entry at a time fails miserably. The HTC cannot receive multiple records/entries. If this is a failure on HTC’s part or the fault of SonyEricsson’s P990i, I don’t know; and I don’t care. What gets me is that these two “smartphones” are very recent. The HTC S710 is the company’s first Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone (and they decided not to 3G it, yay).

The manufacturers and network providers talk the talk, but they sure as hell don’t walk the walk. How can something as simple as transferring multiple contact records from one phone to another, using a “standardized protocol” (let’s not be too picky) cause problems for two such “professional” products? This has me timewarped back to the days of Xmodem/CRC and Xmodem/Checksum problems (“You know you can alwas rely on the simplest of the protocols like Xmodem if everything else fails”).

It’s time these manufacturers get their head out of whatever hole they’ve got it stuck in, get seated around a huge round table, and sort this out. There are no excuses for this. For this “one world”, “one connection”, “one people” bullshit to work, we need to have devices that can communicate with each other using some form of lowest common denominator when everything fails. The SIM card stopped being that for mobile phones a long time ago. Wake up and smell the maple nut crunch!

** What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate **

Sony Ericsson P990i – Second impressions

In my Sony Ericsson P990i – First impressions post, I talked about my first impressions and experiences with the Sony Ericsson P990i Smart Phone. Some months of use have gone by, so I figure it’s time to talk about second impressions.

The biggest problem with the P990i is its speed, or rather lack thereof. I cannot for the life of me figure out why Sony Ericsson would take the easy way out and not equip their flagship product with a decent CPU. The user interface (UIQ/Symbian) is also a matter of concern when it comes to speed. It has fancy animations and so-called effects, but they cannot be disabled! I assume Sony Ericsson does not consider all “pro users” to be completely incompetent users of their products; I mean, if I want to navigate as quickly as possible to a given entry (take your pick), why would I want to have animated effects? These cuddly little features are really irritating when you get into a user interface.

I don’t mind UIQ as a user interface per se, I prefer it to any given version of “mobile Windows” (or whatever their latest groovy name is for it), but I mind how it’s being used in the P990i and other Smart Phones.

With the most recent “firmware” upgrade, the device takes a good leap forward in terms of fixing small but annoying oddities in the few initial releases. Sony Ericsson’s on-line update service works as advertised. Why I have to manually back up my device prior to doing the “firmware” upgrade is, however, beyond me. Why couldn’t they just include that in the application that handles the update, followed by an (optional) restore of that same backup?

2G/3G connectivity, as well as Bluetooth, WiFi, and infrared connections, all work well. Once I figured out how to configure all of the available options, the P990i seamlessly slips in and out of my various operating environments (WiFi surfing at home, Bluetooth with my laptop, and 2G/3G for everyday use).

The two megapixel camera, although a huge leap forward compared to the P900 and P910 phones, isn’t all that capable. I wasn’t really expecting much from it, and under good lighting conditions, it performs acceptable; put any motion or somewhat less adequate lighting into the photo-op and you should consider yourself lucky to get anything but garbage out of your shot.

As a conclusion, I would recommend the P990i to anyone who needs a serious “business” phone, and to anyone who wants a decent media player with good connectivity options. If Sony Ericsson could just get their heads out and better handle migrating from different phones and kick that stupid “feature” called “animations and effects” in the user interface, I’d give it a 9 out of 10; for those two hic-ups, I’ll give the P990i an 8 out of 10.

Sony Ericsson P990i – First impressions

Having been delayed time and time again, it was with some anticipation I read the “Your order is on its way”-message from our local hardware supplier (Dustin). My Sony Ericsson P900 smart phone was deteriorating beyond usefulness, having been dropped on the floor a few too many times. So I’ve now spent some 6-7 hours getting the new Sony Ericsson P990i smart phone configured and ready-to-go.

There are very few things not to like about this telephone. It’s lighter (most likely due to a more lightweight battery) than its predecessors and has a lesser feeling of brick-in-pocket. But being a “business user” of the P900, which is the type of user Sony Ericsson wants to target their P-series to, I found some serious issues when it came to migrating data from one Sony Ericsson P-series smart phone to another. I cannot for the life of me understand what the software developers at Sony Ericsson and/or Symbian are doing. Had it not been too foulmouthed to write here, I’d ask myself what on earth these sh*t for brain programmers and developers are thinking of.

Migrating data turned out to be a real headache. You see, the software that accompany these “professional smart phones” cannot handle import/export from one model to another. Say what? Why can I not backup my P900 and then restore suitable parts to the P990i? Sony Ericsson wants the P-series to “grow in capacity and flexibility with users’ ever growing demands and needs”, so supply me, the user with adequate tools to do just that!

Continue reading Sony Ericsson P990i – First impressions