The new Sony Ericsson Vivaz is full of media promise – an 8MP camera, HD video recording and an 8GB memory card, combined with a full touchscreen interface, make this a real contender for Sony Ericsson.
We’re not sure that there’s still room for a high end smartphone with a media focus over other functionality – but read on to find out whether the Vivaz ticks the right boxes or check out our full video review to your right.
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– Hands-on pictures: Sony Ericsson Vivaz
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Sony Ericsson claims to have thought about ergonomics with the Vivaz, and to that end has come out with a chassis that represents ‘human curvature’ – ie, it’s nicely curved and sits well in the hand.
It feels little plasticky when you pick it up for the first time – there’s no comforting weight like you get with other top end smartphones, like the Legend from HTC.
But the 3.2-inch touchscreen is pretty expansive in the chassis, and despite the phone’s diminutive dimensions (107 x 51.7 x 12.5 mm), we didn’t feel like finger space was at a premium.
However, we were less impressed with resistive screen – Sony Ericsson and Nokia are still banging this drum as they say it’s better for handwriting recognition, but we honestly can’t see this as a must-have feature.
The UI is similar to that of the Satio, as the Vivaz follows this model as the second Sony Ericsson to run on Symbian 5th edition allowing icon customising.
This means finger friendly icons to push, and despite the resistive screen the phone still responded fairly well to the touch, thanks to the new glass screen, and menus were pretty easy to navigate.
Past the superficial, this phone excels in a couple of areas – photography/video capture and media.
The former is probably the best we’ve seen on a phone, especially when it comes to recording HD video, which is available at 720p – not bad for a phone of this size.
The video quality is more than passable as well – the 24fps frame rate is tip-top, and makes video recorded very smooth.
The 8.1MP camera is also pretty good – pictures can be snapped speedily, and the quality is high – even at high zoom level the quality isn’t lost.
Sony Ericsson has also added a huge number of photography options to play with – from smile capture mode to panorama, as well as white balance correction, you’re easily able to take the best picture with the Vivaz.
We mentioned media as another plus point – this is mostly down to Sony Ericsson adding in a 3.5mm headphone jack into the mix. It’s the second phone the brand has done this with (the first being the W995) and is a real plus point, seeing as it was missing on the Satio.
The excellent XMB overlay is once again in effect – easily sorting your media in the relevant categories when you first slip over some media, either by plugging the phone into your PC or slotting in a microSD card.
The music quality is good, and video looks cracking on the near HD screen – we’re not sure the screen size is the right format for long movie marathons, but if you’re after the odd TV show, this is good enough.
A spot of browsing
However, ploughing further into the Vivaz and things are less exciting – the internet browser is only OK, and takes a while to load up pages, even over Wi-Fi.
And compared to the slick nature of the iPhone or Android phones, the Vivaz has trouble jumping from Wi-Fi and 3G. If you want to browse the web over the mobile ‘net when out and about but connect to your router when you get in, you’ll have to reconnect with a cumbersome pop-up.
Web pages did render well, and while there’s no flash player on board as far as we could see, we weren’t too unimpressed.
Call quality is OK as well – although it oddly didn’t feel too face friendly when holding the phone to the ear, and sometimes the speaker sounded pretty fuzzy to us.
Messaging was also pretty good – the screen is smaller than other phones out there, and the resistive screen can be hard to text on, but overall using the phone in landscape mode made for some pretty swift messaging – and push Exchange email from RoadSync is pretty handy as well.
Mug or Mogul?
It’s easy to see where Sony Ericsson is positioning this phone – the media-loving market is going to get a real kick out of this phone.
However, for £70 more you can pick up the Samsung i8910HD – the same 8MP camera, 720p video recording but with a large 3.7-inch OLED screen, which means media looks stunning on the display.
However it’s a really chunky beast, and if you’re more about the pocket friendliness, then you should check out the Vivaz – even over its larger brother, the Satio.
Link: Sony Ericsson