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Review GSM phone Sony Ericsson K300i
Sony Ericsson has been increasing its product line for 2005 by low-end and middle class solutions also. K300 that had a name of Kristina during the development belongs to them. The appearance of a product of this class was prejudged since the company needs a middle class device with attractive functionality and positioning here such a passing away model like Т610 would potentially decrease the sales of new products in higher segments. T610 distinguished in its body quality too much in its segments and thus the model had to be changed by a new solution. K500 became a first step in this direction and was a successful solution. And now K300 seems quite a logical result of the idea of increasing the product line.
The manufacturer stresses the difference between the models not only by their design, production quality but also colour screens. And if K700 is equipped with a 176x220 pixels screen then K500 has the resolution of 128x160. That's natural the model with 300 index has a simplified screen and so it is STN with the resolution of 128x128 pixels. Looking at top models with index 900 we see that the screen is not larger here but the number of colors increased from 65K to 262K. A line of S index fashion products seems a bit separated and do not support the concept described. The screens are similar in models with similar indexes thus Z300 has the same screen as K300.
K300 doesn't differ from K500 and K700 technologically; this is the same device with some software changes. The design of the phone is maximum close to the elder models. And by the way the phone is hard to call cheap because it looks rather expensive in hands. Comparing the design with models of the same class we can say it's better thought over and will suit both youth and adult people. For instance, Siemens C65 is certainly beaten by K300 in the quality of the plastic.
The absence of side buttons gives away a low-end solution and only a camera button is placed on the left side. An interface connector is traditionally placed on the bottom end of the phone and is similar to the ones in the rest of the product line. Thus a full compatibility in accessories is achieved. A On/Off button is on the top end of the phone and IrDA gap is also here.
Let's return to the screen. The colors are not very bright and look a bit faded. Subjectively it is not as good as in Siemens C65 since large physical dimensions tell upon. But when compared with Motorola C650 the screen doesn't loose, the displays are comparable. Thus the screen of K300 is close to the best in its class. And even comparison with Samsung models that will appear in the market in the same time and have the same price reveals the equality of the screen quality. The picture fades in the sun but remains possible to make out.
The keypad is ordinary, number keys are pleasant to work with and will suit the majority of users. A separate button for calling a wap-browser is on the bottom to the left. The first difference from a usual device of this class is soft keys that are thin metallic lines. This is a gentle hint at the future models in which the majority of the keypad will be made this way (but not a clamshell or a straight rival for Motorola V3 Razr). Soft keys are comfortable to work with and no any problems appear.
The presence of a joystick really gladdens, no any accidental pressures happen and a finger doesn't slide away from it. In general the comfort of use is medium and the ergonomics is typical. The backlighting is orange and not even thus not all the keys are lighted in side rows that makes problems from time to time.
A loud speaker gap may be seen on the back panel. It reproduces melodies and is used for speaker phone working. There is a VGA-camera gap a bit lower and it is not covered with any shutter that is another one peculiarity of a cheap device. A mirror is traditionally present. The camera is completely similar to the one in K700 in hardware, all the shooting modes excluding a landscape one are present, and there is an extended resolution mode (Extended mode - stretching a VGA picture to one megapixel). The quality of VGA photos is not as bad but we won't consider the camera separately. Photo samples are available in K700 review or on our forum.
A battery module is hidden behind a back cover. A 700 mAh Li-Ion battery (BST-35) is placed there. According to the manufacturer the device is capable of working for 420 ours in the standby mode and up to 3,5 hours in the talk mode. In Moscow the phone worked for 4 days in case of 45 minutes of talks and 40 minutes of using other functions (games mainly). Full recharging takes about 1.5 hours. In Western countries the device worked for 5 days with the same use terms (a non-commercial prototype, Germany, London and Amsterdam). The difference in the data may be explained with the consistence of basic station and network architecture.
The menu organization is similar to the elder models and that's why I'll cite previous reviews. On turning the phone on you will be introduced to your personal helper, who will help you setting up the phone. In several slides you will find out about the main soft-keys, will be offered to enter date, time, and copy entries from SIM-card into the phone's memory. In the very beginning you are offered to choose menu language/ In future it can be left turned on every time the phone will be turned on, it is all up to you weather you need this function or no.
Allright, let's imagine that the phone is turned on, you see a usual design, signatures for soft-keys The main menu is presented by three rows of icons, three in each row. Icons look pretty, they are better drawn. In main menu manufacturers decided to review the animation, while moving from one item to other a circle which will highlight the current item will appear. Animation is extremely pleasant and is not annoying at all, even if you use the phone for long term. Surfing through the menu speed deserves separate praise, no slow downs, everything works surprisingly fast. The user can use shortcut number navigation in case he wants to, this way road to the required menu item will take only 1-2-3 seconds.
The input convenience remained on the same level, by pressing the # key you will bring up available language list, and be able to switch between them while text inputting.
The manufacturer decided to take care of additional horizontal theme bookmarks. This means that now when you are in the call list menu, which is called by pressing the Call button, you will see not only the last dialed numbers but gain the ability to switch between bookmarks with last missed/received calls (horizontal joystick presses). In the phone's menu such navigation is used in all possible places, it strongly simplifies usage of phone, menu's ergonomics in this model is extremely high. I'd like to point out that similar horizontal panels present in the phone book, settings menu and several other menu items as well.
File manager, amount of memory. About 8 Mb of free space are available to a user, here he may keep his data, files (pictures, video clips, applications). Remaining memory is occupied with pre-installed applications, which you can delete. Total memory size is 10 MB.
The phone also gained simple file manager, with its help you can sort files into various folders, create directories in the phone's memory and store files in them. Using internal memory for file storage is easily possible just send your fill to the phone. It's possible to send files via IrDA. Basically we face the fact that the phone can be used as file carrier for very important files.
The presence of the file manager makes the life significantly easier, with its help you can sort out loads of pictures, prepare them for transferring process to PC. The phone still has the same problems like T610 and T630 had - pictures are taking up twice as much memory as they do when they are already on your PC. Most likely this is due to the peculiarities of file system's organization. Curious fact that when you are viewing properties for the picture, you will see correct information about picture's size, but if you look at the free memory amount, it will be decreased twice as much after taking the picture. Since there is a lot of free memory to use this problem is not actual.
Player. The phone has built-in mp3 file player, as well as 3GP. This function came from Sony Ericsson Z1010, which had support of exchangeable memory cards, in that case this feature had sense. Here the memory is enough for keeping 5-10 minutes of poor mp3 file sound quality, there is no use of creating playlists. At the same time player is actually a nice tool for listening to mp3 files, the phone can be used for file carrying, you can carry one or two songs in very good quality. This is the only use for using the player, it can not be used as alternative to mp3 player. Short mp3 compositions are good to set as a call signal.
Equalizer setup is present among the other settings (Bass, Voice, Tremble etc), as well as the ability of creating your own settings. Depending on these settings the sound will actually change, this is noticeable.
Phone book. Functional possibilities of the phonebook remind ones for Sony Ericsson K500. For example, one entry can be associated with several phone numbers, e-mail address, other contact information. In settings you can choose the required fields that will be represented while filling in. There is a sort by fields, actually by Surname and First Name but only one way for an input field. Such sorting is important only while transferring data from PC, for phone's entries it's actually useless. While the incoming call you will hear a personal ring tone, as well as chosen image.
While information input you are free to scroll between bookmarks, on the first one phone number entering and their sorting according to types. Actually this organization reminds Outlook for some reason, it is convenient. Ability to add voice dialing to separate numbers stored under one name was introduced as well, there can be up to 40 of them in total. If you remember, earlier on voice dialing was supported only for names, and you had to make additional voice dialing bookmarks for other phones stored under the same contact.
While viewing the phone book you can scroll the numbers by the horizontal joystick's keypress, as well as watching other information. Of course the default number will be bind by you.
Traditionally the company believes that SIM-card and its memory will be used only in emergency situations, and not for storing information continuously. Viewing the entries on the SIM-card is possible from the separate menu item, they are not displayed in the common entry list.
Messages. All functions are basic for messages, templates and ability to create your own ones are present. For messages storing phone's memory as well as SIM-card's is used. Chat function is supported, on the whole I can say that the features are pretty common for any other phone. Appeared emoticons should be mentioned as well, they are made on a new quality level, and support youth part of the phone.
MMS realization deserves to be mentioned as well, you can actually create clips, there are a lot of settings and it is not hard to use them, a truly unique quality that other phones lack.
E-Mail client supports sending and receiving messages, all possible encodings are supported.
In this menu Instant Messaging is present as well, sort of ICQ analogue.
Call list. In common list you will see up to 30 entries with date and time assigned to each. Near each of them an icon will explain to what type of call it refers (missed, received, dialed). Besides this in common list additional icons are present, they show if the phone number is present in the phone's memory, or SIM-card's. The list of missed calls can be viewed separately, it can store up to 10 entries. In the same menu item information about cost and length of last, all calls can be viewed. Moving through the separate lists can be made with the help of bookmarks, this actually saves your time greatly.
Entertainment. This menu item contains access to picture album, list of music files. Function MuiscDJ is interesting, although it is rather niche and will not be in demand around most of users. In this editor you can create your own ring tones and edit up to 4 tracks. The company plans to represent the continuation of the idea of MusicDJ in future phones, the new technology will combine all the possible information types and not only music. It's some kind of an MMS editor if compared with other technologies.
There are two games preset in the phone. They are 3D darts and Tic Tac Toe. The device supports Java MIDP 2.0 and thus is possible to upload new games.
Organizer. In organizer menu a lot of functions are stored at once, first of all - let's review the calendar. There are three types of event view, monthly, weekly and daily. In last case you see the list of all things to do and reminders, in two other modes you will notice the highlighted time with events or the day. Fast transfer to the required year, day and month is present. Everything is pretty simple and traditional, as well as schedule entry. Basically you get the chance to choose one of the 6 icons assigned to the action type, specify the place where it will occur, length and setup reminder (beforehand or in the entered time). I was unable find a way to setup reoccurrence rate, in my samples this feature was not present at all. From the editing menu for separate events you can choose another time and date, and that's it. Reminders work even if the phone is turned off, in case you turn on this function in the settings menu. Pleasant peculiarity of this model is that you can turn on/off automatic switch of profiles after the event had occurred, as well as return to the earlier set profile after the event is over. Basically we get analogue of Time Profile function in Nokia's phones.
To do list of rather ascetic, only two modes of events, call or reminder. On the other hand this is pretty enough, simplicity has its own advantages as well.
The phone has fully-functional search, which is organized for calendar, you just enter the words (or part of it) and after few seconds see all events which suit for the searched words. Function works very fast even if there are more than 100 entries, fast teleportation to the event is supported as well.
The phone has normal support of sending files to different devices (like always - IrDA, Bluetooth). You just choose the required interval (day, week, or month) and send all entries. I'd like to point out the fact that receiving device must support PIM function in order to receive and display these data files correctly. When we tried to send our own schedule to TV-set it was successful, although it could not be displayed (via IrDA). Same thing can be sent from your office or desktop PC without any additional software for synchronization.
Notes. The phone supports recording short text notes, in common list first word from each is displayed. This is not always convenient since you have to enter every note with "marker word", in order to remember what it is all about.
Alarm clocks. The phone has single as well as reoccurring alarm clock, which can be setup by the defined days of week. The alarm clocks will work even if the phone is turned off.
Countdown timer. Everything is pretty simple here, although same thing can be said about the stop-watch, it supports intervals. The phone has code storage, which was loved by many, working with calculator became more convenient.
Connectivity.From here you can setup all communication settings of the phone starting with WAP, GPRS and ending with synchronization. The standard usage will not be mentioned, it is pretty obvious, everything works. I'd like to stress that no problems were encountered while synchronizing, synchronization with devices runs smoothly, all profiles are supported.
Settings. Basically all settings related to the work with the phone are stored here, partly with the appearance of screens. I will not describe this menu item, since everything is way too common. The presence of updated themes should be mentioned though, they actually differ the appearance nicely.
The device showed no problems in the connection quality, the volume of loudspeakers is comfortable in the majority of conditions. The 40-tones call signal is heard well also. The power of the vibra call is average and felt not bad.
Such features as the presence of 10 MB of the internal memory, mp3 as a call signal support, a Dictaphone working during a conversation and a fully-functional IrDA should be marked as evident advantages. The possibilities of the VGA-camera are maximum for a device of this class. The only straight rival for K300 is Siemens C65 similar in characteristics. The Siemens product differs in simpler design and cheaper body materials, less camera resolution (it is CIF there) and the absence of a Dictaphone. The advantage of Siemens C65 is more qualitative screen. In general K300 wins comparison and is technically the best in its class.
The model will be announced officially in January (about January, 5) and will appear on the shelves in February. According to the Taiwanese newspapers Arima has been manufacturing the model for an appropriate time and fills he stocks in for the beginning of sales.
The differences between a simplified version K300 and K500 mainly concern the quality of the screen and its resolution and design. The fact allows speaking about a competition inside the product line with a bid price gap. That's why we can suppose Sony Ericsson will keep the price level for K300 25-30 USD less than for K500. And considering today prices we can say K300 will cost about 165-170 USD. But this is a today price and all the prices for the whole product line will be corrected in February. Thus K500 will cost about 185-190 USD and K300 about 155 USD correspondingly. That is considerably higher than even a current price for Siemens C65 (about 135 USD). The high margin is explained with the lack of the devices. The company will saturate the market with the model only in the middle of the 2Q or the beginning of the 3Q and then prices will be corrected much and will get almost equal to the ones of Siemens products. The situation of a fall of the prices for Sony Ericsson T230 may be remembered and the same is going on with K500 now.
Summing up all above we can say that Sony Ericsson again has represented a competitive solution, the device possible to become dominating in its price segment (if they were produced at the time). There is also a planer solution called Karina that differs in changeable panels (covers) and 20-25 USD less price. Technically Karina is a younger sister of an elder model and has a more youth funny design.
Published 22 December 2004
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