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Review of GSM-handset Sony Ericsson W300i/Z530i
Sony Ericsson has been actively positioning itself as a manufacturer, producing Walkman handsets line-up, as a result systematically widened this product line. Another logical step in making these handsets mass solutions is introduction of a medium-class model, which could push up sales of Walkman brand. This model is more vital than ever, considering the fact other companies have been grinding in this field – in fact there already several devices in this price bracket, featuring memory cards support, built-in mp3 player and possessing quite acceptable price. Actually, that’s the main reason why Sony Ericsson decided to release two models at a time: a cheaper solution, Sony Ericsson Z530i, and a handset, differing in package, but not functionality, Sony Ericsson W300i. This move allows increasing the overall sales of these two models.
The design of this clamshell is unusual – the pictures provoke the feeling of the handset’s disproportion, however in practice, the phone turns out to be a very attractive appearance, owing to its small size – 90õ47õ24.5 mm. The model relates to “adult” class on no account: vivid colors and daring experiments with textures – all this makes you realize, that it aims mostly at youth and kids. As regards some previous models, for example Sony Ericsson Z200, the devices were target at women audience, though now the target group of this solution is not so strictly defined. For Sony Ericsson W300i one can choose one out of two color themes: Shadow Black and Shimmering White. Both of them look attractive - dull plastic only intensifies this impression. Despite model Z530i, no exchangeable covers are provided for this device, it seems the manufacturer considered them as needless. On the other hand, color solutions for Z530i look more common – these are Soft Black, Chromic Grey and Elegant Red. The side parts of the body, as well as the external loop-antenna, are silvery in both cases.
The handset fits in the palm pretty good, and what is more it can be easily opened single handedly. The device’s weight is 94 grams, which is rather typical for products of this type. An inversion monochrome external display may be referred to original solutions – its resolution is 101x80 pixels with orange backlight color, which originates from tradition of applying orange color to all handsets, representing Walkman line-up, and since Z530i is equal in all parts to W300i, it features the same color. Even though I still can’t get rid of the previous negative experience of working with displays like this, the backlight in this handset didn’t upset me, as I could have expected. At any rate it’s up to you to decide whether this color appeals to you or not.
The screen offers only the status bar – since the display is inversion, the icon, showing the battery level has an unusual appearance – when the life time is nearly gone, you will be black space and a bar, standing for the remaining charge. The majority of questioned people told us that, from their point of view, the battery has no charge left, as this fact is proved by the indicator. In terms of psychologic aspects, this type of charge indicator is not handy – it should undergo either changes in applied colors, or some other kind of adjustment. As to the function, providing information on the remaining charge on the side button pressure, it’s not attractive at all, since requires additional actions by the user.
Having pressed the side key, one can obtain the data not only on the handset, which will be displayed on the external screen, but also events, taken from the organizer and scheduled for the current day. Another way, this screen can be used in, is displaying the information from the media player, containing track title, artist, scroll bar, etc. In case you are listening to the radio, the screen features the radio-station’s title. When in stand-by mode, or after lack of activity for a long period of time, the screen is occupied with tiny clock, though it’s so small, that one would require a magnifier in order to use them. As to all other capabilities of the display, they are all fine, direct sunlight doesn’t affect readability of the information, due to the fact the display is monochrome.
The doubled button, located in the top left corner, has undergone several interesting changes – as a matter of fact, the side, responsible for adjusting sound volume, got engraved with “Music” label (it calls up media player or radio). In the end the design proved to be exceptional, but very handy. Owing to the keys’ size, they can be readily operated by both adult and child. The right side of the handset features infrared port on the same place though lacks any other control elements. Fast Port connector is mounted on the bottom part – using this port and an adapter, you can easily plug in any 3.5 mm headphones of standard type. Right next to this jack, there is a fastening for a strap.
A small mirror, as well as an objective glass of a VGA camera, is placed right above the display. The camera module is made in a common way for Sony Ericsson and doesn’t bring anything new of any innovative solutions. The manufacturers announced “hot swap”, though there is no way you can access the slot unless the back cover is on its place. Here, on the side panel, you will see the memory cards expansion slot of M2 standard; by the way W300i’s package features one with 256 Mb onboard. In terms of form-factor, this type of memory cards is very similar to MicroSD, as well as their maximum storage size is equal at present – it’s about 1 Gb (M2 will be introduced into the mass market simultaneously with W300i release, though cards, featuring 1 Gb storage will appear only by the end of the year). The company lies major emphasis on the price, which will be acceptable and are not likely to overcome MemoryStick Pro Duo. In order to clarify the matters regarding prices, let me note, that in China a card with 1 Gb of memory costs 24 USD and more, while the price for the ones, providing capacity of 2 Gb starts from 36 USD (SanDisk). These quotations are valid not only for wholesalers, but also for retail stores, and on of my acquaintances didn’t miss the chance to buy one.
Swapping memory cards over doesn’t cause any difficulties, although the manufacturer might has decided, that users wouldn’t require to replace these cards pretty often. It seems the analogous thoughts came to the minds of Motorola v360 developers, as this device provides the same way of changing memory cards.
Having opened the device, you will face the internal display, with a resolution of 128x160 pixels, armed with UBC technology (only applied to Z530i, but not featured in W300i). This is a kind of replacement for UBF, which, in its turn, relates to STN-matrixes line-up. The new title of the technology in this handset is aimed at stressing its superiority over STN-matrixes of the previous generations in terms of contrast. Of course, the colors, reflected by this display are vivid, but it yields to the majority or qualitative TFT-screens, as it has distinguishable pixel size, and it’s no wonder, considering the resolution. On the whole the display performs well, even though sometimes it fades away in sunlight, information remains readable. The screen is capable of displaying up to 65 K colors
W300i has the same display incorporated, though the technology used here is TFT, and what is more, it can reflect up to 262 K colors. The better display is explained by higher positioning of the device. The overall picture quality here is a bit better – pixels size is not so obvious here. At the same time, for this price bracket and class, the screen is quite average, since it may be referred to the previous generation due to low resolution.
The keypad is made of plastic – all the numeric keys have the appearance of small rounds, located in vertical rows. They are handy in operation and don’t cause any inconveniences. At the same time all the function keys are sunk in the body more than enough, and one may not feel good about working with them. The navigation key is raised a little, and at the time it is quite hard to press, and this doesn’t add any points to the handset’s ergonomics. The keypad’s backlight is orange, but colorless – this may come in handy when working in daylight, and on the other hand when operating the device in dark places, all the necessary information has enough of highlight.
The device uses a Lithium-Polymeric battery with the capacity of 900 mAh. According to the manufacturer’s statement it can grant 400 hours of operation in stand-by mode and up to 9 hours of talk time. In the conditions of Moscow networks, the charge on the battery lasted for about 3 days, at that we had nearly 1 hour of talk time, up to 1 hours of other functions use and something like 6 hours of listening to music. Â óñëîâèÿõ ìîñêîâñêèõ ñåòåé àïïàðàò ðàáîòàë ïîðÿäêà 3 ñóòîê ñ íåáîëüøèì ïðè ÷àñå ðàçãîâîðîâ è äî ÷àñà èñïîëüçîâàíèÿ äðóãèõ ôóíêöèé, ïëþñ îêîëî 6 ÷àñîâ ïðîñëóøèâàíèÿ ìóçûêè. Full recharge time of the device is around 1 hour 40 minutes.
As compared to the other products by the company, this device is more preferable in terms of life time – the increase comes practically to 35% in conditions of real life loads. It seems it is reached with the help of the low power consuming display and better functioning of energy saving modes. The handset managed to constantly play back music with the network part tuned off, volume set on maximum and default headphones, for 27 hours. So far it’s the absolute top record out of all the phones, presented on the market, including Walkman series.
The main menu has the appearance of a 4x3 grid with the fast number navigation function enabled – when using this capability, switching between various items on the menu becomes a matter of a few seconds.
The input system is as convenient, as it has always been. By pressing # key, you will bring up the list of available languages, which are very easy to switch between while typing.
The manufacturers incorporated horizontal subject tabs, as well as standard vertical items on the menu. For example in the call record section, which may be called up by pressing the Accept Call key, you can browse not only the numbers, dialed lately, but also (horizontal deviations of the joystick) switch to the tabs with missed and accepted calls. The developers applied this kind of navigation to all possible items, and to tell the truth it makes experience of working with the phone more pleasant. One more thing to mention is that the similar horizontal bars are present in the phonebook, settings menu and a number of the other menus too.
Phonebook. This phonebook is capable of storing up to 1000 entries will all the fields filled in. In sum it’s around 2500, which is way more than enough for the majority of users. Each contact may hold several telephone numbers, e-mail address, IM number and other contact information. In the settings you’re at liberty to choose the desired fields, which will be displayed in editing mode. The device provides sorting by fields option, namely by Last Name, First Name, though there is only a single input field. The device has a function for “on air” sorting of the phonebook’s contents – this is the core difference from all the previous devices. Each single entry may be assigned to a personal ring tone and image. The Birthday field may be synchronized with the organizer.
When inputting information, you always switch between tab – in the first one you type telephone numbers and sort them by type. In this regard, the device reminds of Outlook, where the same system of tabs is applied – no one will say that it’s unhandy. The handset is also armed with voice dialing function, the maximum number of which is capped by 40.
When viewing a contact in the phonebook, you can scroll through the numbers’ list using the horizontal deviations of the joystick – browsing of the rest of information is implemented in the similar manner. No doubt, all the default numbers are set manually by you.
Following the tradition, the company considers SIM-card as an emergency storage, rather than memory bank for commonly used data. In order to examine the information, located on the card, the user is forced to call up a special menu, as these contacts are not displayed on the general list.
There is also a possibility of making a backup copy of all entries, stored on the memory card with the function of consequent restoring.
Groups of contacts are effectively used only in case of maillists creations – there is no way one can assign a particular icon or ring tone to a group.
Messages. All functions are basic for messages, there are few default templates, others can be created. Messages are stored in the phone's memory and on the SIM-card as well. Chat is also available. As a whole everything, as well as on other phones of this company is supported.
MMS realization is done great; you can really create your own video clips. The number of settings and the simplicity of their usage makes the great advantage over other phones.
An e-mail client supports sending and receiving of the messages, supports all kind of encodings including all Russian. E-mail messages can be stored on the memory card.
RSS Feeds allow subscribing to international news channels and get them delivered right at your phone in automatic (scheduled) mode or manual one. This function seems to be becoming standard for all company’s handsets, this makes it different from the competitors.
Call lists. General calls list displays up to 30 records with date and time of a call. There is an icon beside each record showing a call type (missed, received, and dialed). Besides that, there are icons in the general calls list which show if a phone number is in the phonebook or on the SIM-card. A list of missed calls can also be viewed separately; it can hold up to 10 records. Here you can view a cost or duration of the last call and of all calls. Switching between different lists is possible by using bookmarks, they save time greatly.
Entertainment. This menu item provides access to a photo album, list of music files. MusicDJ is an interesting function although it isn't used by a wide range of consumers. It provides you with an ability to make your own melodies editing up to 4 tracks.
Advanced version of MusicDJ is a function VideoDJ, it allows editing not only music but also to add pictures and inscriptions, the final result is made out as a 3GP file which can be transferred in MMS or Email to another phone.
A graphical editor PhotoDJ is provided for creative users, which allows drawing plain pictures. Sometimes it will help in spending time, but most often is excessive.
Remote control - an opportunity to operate other devices by Bluetooth-connection. It is standard for Sony Ericsson phones.
Sound record - a dictaphone, which allows recording voice memos for later use as a ringtone. Record of conversation occurs from the contextual menu. No restrictions on duration.
Organizer. There are a lot of functions beneath an Organizer menu. First, let's take a look at a calendar. There are three types of events viewing: week view, month view or today events. In the last case you see a list of all appointments and notes, another two modes display time and appointment or the day. You can quickly switch between year/month/day view, everything is pretty traditional, just like input of schedule. In which you will be able to name the event, specify the place where it will occur, length, setup reminder (beforetime or right at the start). The phone lacks repeated occasions. Only time and date can be changed through the editing mode. Reminders work even if the phone is switched off, if that option is marked in settings.
A task list is ascetic; there are only two types of tasks in it: a call and a reminder. But on the other hand, this is enough.
The phone has full-fledged calendar search - you input a search criteria (a word or a part of it) and the phone displays all the appointments matching this criteria. The search works fast even if there are more than 100 appointments scheduled. You can also quickly go to a particular appointment from a resulting search list.
Scheduled events can easily be sent to another devices (as always, through IrDA or via Bluetooth). You just have to choose a desired time interval - a day, a week, a month - and then send all the records. But a receiving device should have a built-in PIM to receive and display that data. You can send your info to a TV through an IrDa but it is unable to display them. In that manner, you can receive data, for instance, from home or office PC without using any extra synchronization software.
Notes. The phone can store short text notes. Notes list displays the first word form a note. It isn't always comfortable because one should start a note with a keyword to know what it is about.
Alarms. An alarm can be set to regular or recurrent mode (the alarm can ring on selected days of the week). Alarm works even if the phone is switched off. Any sound file or radio can act as a signal.
Countdown timer is rather standard either as a stopwatch. The phone has a code reminder which is loved by lots of people, usual calculator.
Also there is a function of world time.
Connectivity. This menu item is responsible for the phone communications - from WAP and GPRS (EDGE settings are similar) to Bluetooth and synchronization. I won't describe here the standard methods of using them, they are pretty obvious and everything works fine. I want particularly emphasize Bluetooth's stability, it doesn't cause any problems to the phone at all, synchronization has no problems either, all profiles are supported (there is no sound transfer via Bluetooth).
Here you can also find setting for a remote and a local synchronization, everything is also standard. The phone supports HID profile which allows using it as the computer or other device remote control.
Following Bluetooth-profiles are supported:
WAP. WAP-browser has a dedicated menu item. Its version is 2.0 and it supports secured connections that are important for an electronic transactions. Using the browser, new wallpapers, themes, ringtones, which are available on vendor's site, can be downloaded to the phone.
NetFront browser is applied as a standard in phones by Sony Ericsson, it supports viewing pages in one strip (automatic formatting for the mobile device), viewing html pages. Other convenient things are creation of folders for files and bookmarks. The browser is one of the best, but the limited resources of the phone do not make it easy to use. For those who use the Internet constantly it is better to think about Pocket PC or laptop, it is not so interesting on such class of the devices. At the same time the support of RSS Feeds is interesting, it allows using the phone for reading news or announcements. Russian encodings are still a headache, the built-in browser works extremely badly with them.
There is no work with html-pages containing complex formatting, or exceeding 500 Kb in size. In many respects the standard browser is optimum, but use of Opera Mini is more preferable, as it gives more capabilities.
Settings. Properly speaking, this menu item contains all options regarding phone's work and partly screen's look. All the options are traditional and there is no need to describe them.
File manager, memory size. Up to 20Mb of space is accessible for the user; he can store some data, files (photos, video and applications) here. The rest of memory is occupied by the preinstalled applications that cannot be removed. Also some part memory is allocated for such functions as a phonebook, calls list etc
There is an elementary files manager in the phone, which helps to sort files by various folders, to create your own folders in the device's memory and to store files. The phone acts as working files storage both with cable and without it.
When viewing photos you will see new appearance called Timeline. Once you select it you will see a horizontal line of thumbnails that are displaying each month of the year, once you press the desired one, you will see days. This allows easily orientating through large number of photos, you just select the date you want, and vou la!
Player. There is a built-in mð3, 3GP and mpeg4 files player in the phone. Player is a good tool for listening mð3 files. The player has an equalizer which, in turn, has few presets (Bass, Voice, Tremble etc.) and a possibility to create your own settings. The equalizer changes sound noticeably.
The player’s specifications and abilities are replicating one for Sony Ericsson W800i. It can be minimized, the phone supports elementary multi-tasking.
External keys can be used for switching between songs in the list, playlist, rewind, pause/play. You don’t have to open the phone in order to operate the player, perform basic operations. That’s convenient.
Radio. You can keep up to 20 stations in memory, automatic tuning and RDS are at your disposal. The phone has the same radio quality as the K750i, which is rather high. HPM-70 stereo headset is included into the kit, but in contrast to previous versions the earphones imply no rubber insertion for wearing on the neck. They are simpler and feature only thin wires. They both look plainer and transmit sound worse (subjectively the quality is lower).
Camera. Thus it has a VGA-camera on board, it has 4x digital zoom function. The presence of bookmarks can be considered an advantage. They allow quickly moving from one shooting mode to another, as well as video capture. The phone can record video clips in 3GP format, sound will be recorded as well.
The phone supports three picture resolutions, the highest of them is VGA, there are also few quality modes, picture compression (standard JPEG files). The phone has various effects and the ability to use night mode.
Performance. Results of JBenchmark in all four versions are predictable, they are identical to the ones of previous models and they’re something in the middle for the segment. The model is weaker than Nokia’s latest phones built on Series 40 3d Edition.
Total Score: 4658
Total Score: 271
The phone has 40-tone polyphonic ring tones, but there’s no difference in mp3 playback when compared to K750, except for improved volume. Vibrating alert power is average, sometimes you might not feel it. The network reception quality is great, everything is typical for Sony Ericsson.
This model is built on the Sony Ericsson W810i platform which we are familiar with. The phone has same software and hardware. EDGE is supported, as well as 4 bands of GSM standard. Besides similarities, the phone has some improvements too, like sorting photo thumbnails by date. Model’s functionality looks interesting for its class, it has all sort of communications with other devices (Bluetooth, IrDA), connection with PC through USB v2.0 is supported. The PC will recognize it as USB Mass Storage device and allow you to access memory card. The models are rich in functions, and display’s quality is the only big disadvantage, it is not typical for products of such class, competitors have better ones. I don’t think that new type of memory cards used for this phone should be described as disadvantage, for most users (budget consumers) 256mb of memory which is shipped in the package will be enough, those who want to go for more will most likely be able to afford it.
Model Sony Ericsson Z530i looks poorer compared to Walkman-series phone, it has worse display, the memory card is only 64mb, the headphones are similar to ones in Sony Ericsson K750i, which means that they are made of plastic, however it has exchangeable covers. This provides 40-50 euro difference in price, which is pretty much when the segment is taken into consideration. The price of Sony Ericsson Z530i by the end of May and beginning of June will be around 175 Euro, meanwhile W300i will cost around 220-230 Euros.
At the moment, Motorola v360 can be considered as main competitor for Z530i, since this model is available worldwide and costs less. The difference in package, functionality well, that’s a minus, but better display is a certain plus. As to other parts, it can be said that the phones belong to one type, the question is in what user needs at first place, what he is looking for. This leads to conclusion that the price of both Z530 and W300i will be corrected fast in downside direction, since the competition in this segment is really big.
Published 18 March 2006
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