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Review Sony Ericsson K500
Sony Ericsson Company made a well-beaten path in the middle segment-it introduced two new models that differentiated between each other only in design, menu arrangement, and in market accessibility. It is implied that the model with the F index is to be realized in the Vodafone network, it will be sold exclusively with this operator although it has no technical novelties as compared to the K500. Traditionally, the menu and the set of the offered pictures look more appealing in the regular version of the phone. The same thing can be said about the colors’ specter of these phones-the bright red color is excessively intense.
The model K500i, which we found more interesting, is to be discussed further. The design of the phone, although in a simplified version, is similar to the identical K700 phone. It is remarkable how the model of the middle class is hidden under the mask of the older phone, even the design is inherited here. You can see the same display, the keyboard with the orange backlight under it. The navigating joystick is very convenient to use and is moderately big.
The dimensions of the phone are typical for its class (102x45x21mm); the same is true about its weight (87grms). The phone fits the palm well. For the last models of Sony Ericsson, the decent ergonomics is characteristic and this model did not become an exception.
Coming back to the display, it was mentioned before that K700 has smaller matrix resolution than K500i. The display is designed according to the TFT-technology and reflects up to 65000 colors. The screen resolution is 128x160 pixels (31x39mm), which allows the display to read up to seven text lines, up to three information bars and head titles. The quality of the display does not leave any doubts; the picture on it looks vivid and clear. If compared to the screens in Sony Ericsson Z600 and T630, the advantages of the display described become obvious. As the display is concerned, the phone overrides not only all the Sony Ericsson models, but also any screen in the Nokia and Siemens phones (ST55/ST60 are compared to the ODM picture-wise only). The display somewhat gives way to the displays in the new phone-shipments of the Motorola v-series (v300, v500, v600, v80, v400), it is not as bright and colorful. On the other hand, the display is of the best ones on the market in its price niche, it is actually very practical and does not have any rivals (Siemens CX65 is not that distinctive), especially in the form-factor of the regular phone.
Under the sun, the screen does not really fade out what is another great feature; the picture is still well seen when exposed to the sunrays.
On the left side surface, the joined volume control key is located (made of rubber, not of plastic); a little bit more up there is a key for the access to the camera. On the right side surface, you can easily find the key to start the wap-browser. The power on/off key is installed on the upper butt-end where the window of IrDA is also situated under the glossy plastic.
As compared to K700 there is no rubber muffler for the interface connector here.
On the backside of the phone, the VGA-camera is located with the little mirror installed right next to it. Another difference with the older K500 model is the lack of the inbuilt “flash”, can although you purchase the accessory for it (in my view, it is unnecessary expense). The semi-circular shaped aperture that was used for the speakerphone function in K700, is utilized here for the camera curtain. An aperture for the speakerphone is located within the speaker next to the camera-that was missing in K700.
The battery compartment can be found under the back cover; it does not slide off the hooks, but opens towards you (it is fixed on two latches). In this model, the lithium-polymeric battery BTS-30 of 670m capacity is used. At the producer’s request, the phone is capable of providing up to seven working hours at the talking mode and up to 300 hours at the stand by mode.
The average working time of the phone at the stand by mode is approximately three days when the other functions are actively used (games, organizer approximately of 40 minutes), and up to thirty minutes of the talking mode in general.
Since the phone is a simplified version of K700, a certain number of details will be copied from the respectful review. I just have to notice, that the icons in this phone are different from K700, they look simpler, the animation is pleasing to view although it is simpler as well.
The changes in the interface of the phone are obvious once you open it for the first time. It is a innovation, that the assistant who welcomes you is capable of setting up your phone. In several screen savers, you can learn about basic operating keys and set the date and the time, you can copy the files from the SIM-card to the phone memory. The first thing to do here is to set the language of the menu, which quite often becomes problematic in other phones. The function is easy; however, it was K500 to introduce it first. In fact, such a function can greatly help to the beginner for whom K500 is the first Sony Ericsson phone. For the future use you can leave this function for every time you switch on the phone or else turn it off, it is up to you to decide whether you need this function.
Here we are, the phone is on and you can see on the display the regular for the T610 set up, the captions for the soft keys. Let us try to tilt the joystick in one of the directions and see what happens. The telephone sends an alarm saying that there is no tag for the operation done and offers to assign one. In five minutes, the functions mostly in use get set according to the direction of the joystick incline, so you can check how well they work. It is noteworthy that while the tags are being applied, the menu is showed with the panel looking like the tag icon.
The main menu is arranged in four rows with three icons in each. As compared to the previous versions of the phone, the icons are more distinct and look better. The key to this is the bigger screen resolution that provides a good quality of the picture. The developers have also devised the animation for the main screen: as you move from one function to another, a circle backlighting the function in use shows up and then shifts between the menu functions. The animation is great; you do not get tired of it even after the long time of using the phone. The speed at which you can move around the menu with the animation on is worth of additional praising since there are no slow downs and everything works outstandingly fast. The user can go for a shortcut number navigation, and then it will take you just a moment to get to the function needed.
The keyboard remained as convenient as before: for example, by pressing the # key, you call up for the list of the languages offered and you can easily switch them while typing.
That is not the end of the interface changes. Besides the traditional vertical menu tags, the producer equipped the phone with the horizontal thematically set marks. This means that now you can look up in the call list, that shows up once you press the send button, not only the numbers dialed last, but also you can immediately (the joystick is then pressed horizontally) switch to the marks with the last missed and received calls. This type of navigation is used everywhere in the phone menu, it greatly simplifies the phone exploitation, and the menu ergonomics in the model discussed is very high. I will note here, that similar horizontal panels are available in the phone book, in the settings’ menu and in several other menus.
Camera. The VGA-camera is installed within the phone and is supplied with the function of four times zooming in. For this phone it is not particularly specified that it is very much related to the regular digital camera, everything is rather standardized, you can take pictures as you find it convenient. The camera interface went through slight changes.
Among the advantages, the horizontal marks should be mentioned: they allow the speedy switching between the picture and the video modes. The phone records the videos in the 3GP format; the sound then is recorded along. The videos look very decent on the display, and due to the quality of the screen, they supersede the similar videos recorded with Nokia 6230. The length of the video is limited only by available phone’s memory capacity (the second variant is designed for the MMS service up to 100 Kb).
The phone supports three pictures’ resolutions VGA being a maximum one; there are also several quality and picture minimizing options (regularly it would be JPEG files). The phone is empowered with various special effects; there are nighttime set ups. It is interesting that the resolution called Extended is a digital transformation of the VGA-shots into the bigger resolution; the quality of the picture is not very high. However, as the size is concerned, these pictures can be compared to the ones of the cameras of mega pixels (1280x960 pixels).
The pictures to come out can be used as the wallpaper; they are easy to be sent to any device using the IrDA. As an emergency option, you can use the MMS to send them or else the built-in mail client.
The files’ manager, memory capacity. The user has up to 8 Mb of the available memory, any kind of self-data or files (such as pictures, videos, attachments) can be saved here. The rest of the memory is occupied by the attachments, which can be deleted upon the user’s will. The overall phone’s memory capacity is 12 Mb.
The phone is now supplied with the easy to use files’ manager that can help you to sort out files into different folders, to create your own directories in the phone’s memory and to save there files as well. It is also unproblematic to use the internal phones’ memory for the files’ transportation; you just have to send the file to the phone. There was also a possibility of sending such files out the files’ manager and through the IrDA. Therefore, the phone can be used as the “transportation device” or as a stock for the moderately big and/or especially important files.
The files’ manager function greatly simplifies your life: you can organize huge piles of pictures using it. You can also set them from the very beginning for mailing to the PC. Nevertheless, there is one problem inherited from the T610/T630 model: the pictures take twice as much space as they do on the PC. This should be linked to the specifications of the organization of the files’ system. It is notable how the correct information about the size of the picture is provided in the information bar of specifications of the image, although when you check out the available memory, it shrinks to the bigger dimension. The problem is not crucial and is not noteworthy when there is a lot of available memory.
Player. The phone is equipped with the built-in mp3 player and is also available for the 3GP files. This function comes from Sony Eriksson Z1010, where it is still valuable even with the changeable memory cards. In contrast, here the memory would be good for five to ten minutes of the mediocre sound, so it is of no use to create the play-lists of your own. At the same time, the player is a great device for listening to the mp3 files, the phone can be used for the transportation of one or two tracks of the decent quality. This function gives the way to perceive the phone adequately, it cannot be a substitute for the mp3 player. The small music compositions can be well used for the ring tone.
Among the different settings, there is the one for the set up of the equalizer, especially granted there are the dimensions provided (Bass, Voice, Tremble, etc), and a possibility to create your own set ups. It is true that the sound significantly changes depending on the chosen set ups.
Phone book. Functions-wise, this phone book is identical with the Sony Ericsson T610, however the interface of the phone book has gone through big changes. For example, for one name in the phone book memory you can save several numbers, an e-mail address, and other types of contact information. In the Settings, you can choose needed panels that will show up as you fill in the information. You can also sort out the fields according to the first and the last names, but there is only one field for the entry. This way of sorting out is helpful only if you move the date from the PC; it is useless for the phone files. For several names, you can choose the ring tone, to assign a picture to the name. In this case, a special melody will be playing at the incoming call, and the selected picture will show up.
As you enter the information, you move around the bookmarks: the first one is for typing in the phone numbers and for classifying them according to their types. In some way, this information entering with the bookmarks is similar with the Outlook, which is convenient. There also is now a possibility of assigning the voice tags to several numbers, written for a name, there can be up to forty of them. As you can recall, the voice tags used to be kept for the name only, while the additional phone numbers (home, work, etc) had to be dialed with the extra voice tags.
As you go through the phone book, you can view the numbers by tilting the joystick horizontally; the other information is also seen then. Of course, you assign the number by default.
Traditionally the company thinks that SIM-cards' memory should be used by users only in case of emergency. The data kept in the card are not shown in the general list, they are available from the separate menu.
Messages. All the operations with messages are standard, there are samples, while you can create your owns as well. To store the messages, the phone memory is used as well as the memory of the SIM-card. The chat function is also supported similarly to the other phones of this company. I want to draw attention to the newly developed emoticons; they are produced on the new quality level and emphasize the attractiveness of this phone for the young generation.
The MMS realization is great, you can just create the videos; the phone is outstanding for its number of different settings on the one hand, and for the accessibility of these settings on the other.
The mail client supports the sending and the receiving messages’ process, all the encodings are sustained, the Russian ones included.
In the menu discussed there is as well an Instant Messaging function, which is somewhat a replica of the mobile ICQ; this technology grows up speedily and by the time K500 enters the market, it will be demanded by a great number of users.
Call lists. The general call list holds up to thirty files with the specified date and time. At the side of each file, you can find an icon identifying the type of the call (a missed one, a received one or a dialed one). Besides, you can see the additional icons on the general list that shows whether the number is saved in the phone’ or in the SIM-card’s memory. You can also separately view the list of the missed calls; it can hold up to ten files. It is also here where you can access the information about the price and the time of the call or of all the last calls. You can move around the different lists using the marks, they greatly save your time.
Entertainments. In this menu, there is an access to the pictures’ album and to the list of music files. The MusicDJ function is amusing although it is not of a primary importance and might not be in a high demand. This function allows you to create your own melodies and edit up to four music tracks.
For the most artistic ones the phone is empowered with the image editor where you can make the simple drawings. Sometimes when using this function you will not even notice how the time flies by, however and speaking honestly, the function is just useless. On the other hand, I would recommend this function to all of those who wish to amend their pictures or to apply special effects to them.
Organizer. There is a plenty of functions within the organizer’s menu, we will start here with a calendar. You can look for the events of a week, of a month or for “today”. In the last case, you will see the list of all the events and all the reminders, while in the other two the time with the event or just the day will be displayed. There is a quick switch to the chosen year, month or day; everything is quite traditional, just like the data entering process. Thus, you can choose a type of an event out of six icons, to set the location where the event will take place and the time of its duration, you can program the reminding alarm (which you have to set ahead of time, or emphasize the selected time). The way to display the repetitive events was not found, in my samples this function lacks as such. The editing menu allows you to set a different time and a day for some of the events, but that is about it. The alarms go off even when the phone is not turned on, but that is only if you set this function in the settings. You can also fix an automatic switching of the profile in the settings, once it is the time of the event, and its return to the previous backdrop once the event is over-this makes a great feature of the phone. In some way, this is an analogue of the Time Profile in Nokia phones.
The list of things to do is rather poor; only two variants of events are offered, they are the ring and the reminder. On the other hand, that is sufficient; the simplicity certainly stands for its advantages.
In the phone there is a great searching function designed for the calendar; you specify a line for the search (it can also be a word or its part) and as a result, you get a list of all the events that fit your searching request. The function works very fast even if there are more than 100 files in the organizer. You can also move very quickly from the obtained list to the event.
You can send your schedule from the phone to the other devices (IrDA) without any problems. You simply choose the needed interval such as a day, a week or a month and then you send all your files. I must note here, that the device receiving the information must be equipped in one way or another with the PIM function, so that it can read the data received. You can as well send your schedule to the TV using the IrDA connection; however, the data will not be legible. Similarly, you can acquire your data from the home or office PC without using the special programming appliance for the synchronization.
Notes. You can make short text notes in the phone; you will see the first word of the note in the main list. It is not always convenient since you then have to start the text from the key word, so you would remember what the whole thing was about.
Alarm clock. The phone is equipped with a “one time” alarm clock as well as with the repetitive one, which you can set on the chosen weekdays. The alarm clocks may be used even when the phone is off.
The countdown timer is very standard actually just like a stopwatch that marks the time-periods. The phone is also equipped with the codes’ reminder so much appreciated by the users. The calculator was also ameliorated, it became handier.
Connectivity. This menu allows you to set all the communication functions of the phone such as the WAP, GPRS and even the synchronization. I will not speak here of the common applications, they are rather obvious and everything works well. I will just stress that the synchronization with other device works without any trouble and all the profiles are supported.
This menu also lets you access the local and the remote synchronization settings; everything is typical here as well.
WAP. A separate menu icon is designed for this browser; it has two versions and supports safe connections, which is very important for the electronic transactions. WAP allows you to download new types of wallpaper, new themes and melodies all of which is available on the original website.
Settings. All the settings that have to do with the phone functioning and partially with the screens’ outlook are kept here. There is not much to tell, it is all standard. I will just say that the innovated themes add to the distinctiveness of the phone.
Java. The phone supports Java (MIDP 2.0) and the realization of the 3D-moving pawl that allows you to play the three dimensional games on the phone. I will take in that the games became very interesting and are easy to download. Another phone’s exclusive feature is the possibility of enlarging the screen for the games, that actually also expands the list of the games to be played.
There are no problems at all with the quality of the connection; the phone works just great (a total analogue of K700). Subjectively, the ring volume (40-tone polyphony) was somewhat increased, probably the key to this are the apertures on the back of the speaker. It is very nice to be able to use the mp3 files as the ring melodies. Actually, when comparing this polyphony with the one of the Korean manufactures, I conclude that the ring described is more than decent both sound and melodically wise. The phone totally overrides the Nokia, Siemens and Motorola phones in the ring quality.
The speakerphone is another advantage of the phone of its class; it is already a standardized function. Another point to this phone is the number of different settings for the camera and a decent quality of the videos. The display installed into the phone is one of the best on the market.
The phone differentiates from the older model in the smaller memory capacity (12 as compared to 40 Mb) and in the lack of the flash and of the big scale shooting. In the younger model, the Bluetooth and the radio lack as well, although there is a full functioning IrDA. The themes offered add to the various phone options, which is certainly its another plus.
The F500i will enter the market at the end of July in the Vodafone network, pricing approximately 230 Euro. The first rival to this model will be Siemens CX65. K500 will come out in September with the market sales price about 185-190 Euro, which will make the phone appealing in its category. There are not many alternative models in this class now. During the 3Q the F500/K500 will greatly slip in pricing which will lead to the top ranking (in its class) of this model at the end of the year.Although surprising, but Sony Ericsson T610/T630 is to become the main rival for Sony Ericsson K500, these two phones can be compared in their sales’ prices. All of the above lets us presume the quick price decline for K500.
Published 29 June 2004
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