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Review of the Sony Ericsson Hazel J20 GSM/UMTS Phone
Live photos of Sony Ericsson Hazel
In the box:
The Hazel is extensively based on the earlier A200 platform designs of slider phones, which have been generating a significant portion of the company's sales until 2010. The most successful model using the form factor is the Sony Ericsson W910, which was very popular in 2008 an even some time after that. Probably, the W980i, as a flagship, was an interesting model too, especially after its price dropped below the wholesale level, yet it turned out to be a market failure in the end. One can't say that the company has had any achievements in the slider segment in the recent years. The justification to that is the fact that the A200 platform ceased developing at some point and hasn't been receiving any significant feature updates since then.
Sony Ericsson went the easy way with the Hazel: they took the Elm as the basis, installed a larger display, and that was it. The model is for those having nostalgia for Sony Ericsson's earlier sliders and who like the make in general. There is no other reason to buy it today. Unfortunately, the pricing policy is such that the slider appears more expensive than, say the Nokia 6700 Slide, which has similar characteristics but is actually a smartphone powered by S60. The match is not even, and it is obviously the Hazel that loses. Unfortunately, the classic collection of A200's weak spots is there Ц i.e. the Fast Port and lack of standard interfaces (i.e. 3.5 mm, microUSB) as well as the unhurried working speed. In a word, the model can only sell as an instant buy or to Sony Ericsson fans. The sales actually started in June and they are very limited, which justifies what is written above.
The phone is available in two color options Ц girlish Passionate Rouge and universal Superior Black.
The device features a curved back, which the company calls Human Curvature. Tastes differ, but personally I am neither hot nor cold about that. It doesn't make the phone feel better in one's hand, which has been tested on quite a few friends; none could see the difference from a regular device. That's just a trick to make the phone stand out of the crowd. The surface is ribbed and feels nice.
The casing is made of recycled plastic but fear not Ц it's quite a regular decent plastic.
On the right side of the phone, you can find a volume rocker and a camera shutter key. The proprietary Fast Port socket (it is 2010 now and all other manufacturers are switching to microUSB) is on the left side. Using the socket is yet another attempt to save money.
The device build quality is decent; the phone looks well-made and generally solid. It measures 102x49.5x16 mm and is not as thin as its predecessors, which is something I don't like. The weight is 120 grams.
The rear side features a camera with LED flash, which can also be used as torchlight.
The device is equipped with a TFT screen that has a resolution of 240x320 pixels (2.6 inches wide) and supports up to 262K colors. The image quality indoors is fine, and the brightness level is higher than that in the Elm with its lackluster display and not a problem anymore. The screen features a mineral glass protection.
The screen allows for up to 9 text lines and up to 4 auxiliary rows. In select modes, you can have even more text lines. Screen readability in direct sunlight is poor.
The phone has an integrated movement sensor, which automatically changes the picture mode in the browser or image gallery when the device is rotated.
The alphanumeric keys are arranged into a block of rows; they are quite comfortable and have a white backlight, which is, however, not uniform. Hence the inscriptions cannot be read easily in any environment. The navigation key is decent and shouldn't be a problem for most users.
The phone comes with a 1000 mAh Li-Pol battery (BST-43). The producer claims up to 10 hours of talk time or up to 430 hours of standby.
The battery lasted for about 1.5-2 days under a conservative usage scenario (up to an hour of talking, about 30 minutes of gaming, 20 minutes of browsing, and a few hours of listening to the music) in Russian cellular networks. In Europe, you can expect the battery life to be at least 50 per cent longer due to better coverage. Music playback alone will kill the battery in about 17.5 hours. It takes 2 hours for the phone to charge fully (80 per cent charge in 1.5 hours).
Compared to earlier models, the battery life is 35-40 per cent shorter, although the official numbers are still the same. My understanding of the phenomenon is that the slower interface eats at the battery at a faster rate (think about the additional time the screen needs to be on).
The phone has about 270 MB of user available memory. The memory card slot is hot swappable and supports cards of up to 32 GB. It is located beneath the battery cover.
The model features a 5 MP camera with autofocus and a LED flash. For the product of the class the camera is excellent and offers quality photos. There is a macro and other additional modes.
Samples of photos:
Video recording in mpeg4 is supported in the following resolutions: 640х480 and 320х240. The length of video shots can be limited by 10 seconds or unlimited. The quality of video is average and can hardly be impressive (30 frames per second).
During USB connection you are forced to choose whether to access files on a memory card (data transfer mode), continue working with the phone (phone mode Ц operation as a modem), or choose Print mode (printing photos). Media Transfer mode is also available (work in MTP, for example, with Windows Media Player). In the first case the phone is disabled and you see the memory card and the phone memory. Data transfer speed reaches 2 Mbps. In the second case you can use different USB settings for the network connection and the phone operates as a modem.
Bluetooth 2 supports EDR and in the menu you can select an energy saving mode. A2DP is also supported, which enables the use of stereo headsets. Data transfer speed is 100 Kbps. The following profiles are available:
WiFi. There is a networks wizard and selected networks can be remembered. When connected all apps use WiFi to connect to a network. 802.11 b/g is supported.
Media Home. WiFi connection can be used to download music and photos from a PC with the necessary software. Alternatively files can be sent from the phone to a PC via DLNA. Everything works well.
It is pointless to describe all software peculiarities, because we have a tried and trusted ј200 platform, which has been analyzed in a detailed review, so here we will only touch upon the specifics of the model.
In the standby mode you can use widgets on the screen when the selected apps are displayed (one at a time). It can be a calendar with To Do List, pace counter, Twitter or Facebook. In the latter two cases the phone automatically updates an RSS feed. The application with widgets is quite handy, but it works very slowly, especially when you try to configure it. It clearly testifies to the fact that it was written above the core code and the app is a bit wobbly. Probably these widgets slow down the entire interface.
The only available game is a simplified Tetris.
Instead SE proved to be generous in terms of apps and they installed everything one can think of. Let's go over main applications without mentioning standard Facebook and YouTube clients.
AccuWeather Ц weather forecast in a selected city.
Calendar Wallpaper Ц flash wallpaper with the clock, which changes into a calendar and photos after some time. It cannot be used in the standby mode, because it is blocked by widgets.
Checkbook helps to carry out all accounting operations Ц income and expenses. You can analyze all items of your budget.
Eco Mate Ц panda, who asks questions about ecology. Some people will like it, but I doubt that many will do it for hours.
Green Calculator Ц provides you with info on your —ќ2 emissions generated by, let's say, your car rides. This is one more futile attempt to be green.
Grocery List Ц itemizes all purchases, so that you can choose necessary products from the list and indicate their amount. The list can be sent to another phone.
NeoReader Ц reads bar codes. There is not much point in this app, because it failed to read half of the codes we tested.
Standby World is wallpaper showing different time zones. You cannot use it in the standby mode as before.
Tracker is used for training sessions and tracks the distance you travel on foot or by bike. It can count laps and uses an in-built GPS. In other words it is quite a pleasant app.
WisePilot is navigation software, which can be used for free during one month and then you have to pay from И20. It is not convenient to use, so Google Maps is a much better option.
Here we have a typical ј200 phone without anything special. In the box we get the worst headset possible. The player has exchangeable shells. They are rather beautiful and are complemented by five equalizers.
Multimedia capabilities are standard for the platform and you can read about them here.
I would just mention that apart from the player this handset features an FM radio as well.
The ringtone is loud; the communication quality is decent and typical of all modern models. Its quality build is a high point of the model.
As this model is a carbon copy of Elm, the main conclusions remain the same.
Several technologies are used to boost the speech recognition quality during the conversation. Automatic volume adjustment is supported. I never noticed its operation, so probably it is very smooth. Noise Shield must protect from street sounds, but again I did not feel much difference from the previous generation models. I compared it with Sony Ericsson C902 on purpose, but could not find anything new. It must be connected with marketing and promotion aimed at attracting consumers with slogans similar to Green Heart series.
The drawbacks of the model are predetermined by its development history. The screen is not bright enough, but the worst issue is its slow speed. If you watch the video you will notice how slow the phone is and nothing can be done. Sadly, widgets made impossible the use of flash wallpapers and several of them offered in the Applications section are useless. It is a typical case of SE frugality, which saves pennies, but cuts down on useful features.
In Europe the model costs И180-190, while in Russia its price is $270-280. The price is rather high for the model and it does not sell at all. This model is too expensive, but Sony Ericsson brand is interesting for the fans only (it is true for ј200 platform). Unfortunately, the phone has more disadvantages to be attractive for its price. You can say that multitasking and good camera are serious selling points, but a slow menu and search function in the phonebook cancel all nice features it has.
One of the alternatives is Nokia 6700 Slide, which offers similar features, but costs less (И165-170). Unfortunately, Hazel cannot compete with the model due to several parameters, including marketing and advertising. As a result the market shares of these handsets are 1 to 20. It says a lot, especially because Nokia 6700 Slide is not very popular itself and is just a niche model.
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Published 22 September 2010
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