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Review of GSM/UMTS-handset Sony Ericsson Z770i
Live photos of Sony Ericsson Z770i
Recently, one of the tasks occupying Sony Ericsson’s mind was not only inflation of the model line-up, but also making its range as diverse as possible. One of the intuitive ways of doing this is to differentiate handsets by their design and looks. Obviously, this method will ensure stellar sales for a couple of phones out of a dozen or so, whereas the rest will pass pretty much unnoticed. On the other hand, it makes addressing certain audiences with a good deal of precision so much easier. The Sony Ericsson Z770i is the epitome of this approach – the maker has put the standard A200 platform into the mix along with an offbeat design to bring a unisex handset. Much like the Sony Ericsson T650i, the vendor’s latest offspring ranks among fashion-savvy solutions, whose positioning is driven primarily by design, rather than distinctive features.
As far as the design goes, the Z770i’s positioning is nothing out of the ordinary – it comes in to replace the Motorola RAZR V3 and its siblings in your pocket. Motorola has forged a trend, sold a head-spinning number of phones and called up a wealth of look-alikes. So right at the moment when consumers start looking for a potent replacements, Sony Ericsson steps up and offers something similar, yet with a different design. Having maintained very svelte profile for a clamshell, the designers have deliberately put the Z770i up against other solutions out there. And since you are quite unlikely to find a look-alike to the Z770i, we have another phone with unique looks and this is its forte. Frankly speaking, the maker is really into this idea – most of the phones they have cranked out of late are not eggs from one basket design- and looks-wise, which is a really good thing. For its fashion-conscious devices Sony Ericsson utilizes metallic accents that automatically boost them up through the ranks.
Obviously, nobody is that ambitious to set the goal of selling the Sony Ericsson Z770i to each person looking for a diminutive folding phone with some metal in it. Nevertheless, the Z770i has some serious and well-grounded claims for the chunk of the market for fashion-savvy solutions, specifically the intermediate class of consumers who won’t just settle for a device that everyone around seems to have (the Nokia 8800 and the likes) and are willing to shell out for unique looks. More importantly, this group isn’t small-numbered and makes a considerable part of the audience.
However for Sony Ericsson this kind of positioning isn’t what they usually do these days. Just like with the T650i they are about to cause a major discord in their line-up – the thing is, those who are currently employing Sony Ericsson’s solutions expect they won’t have to pay a premium for a quirky design, while the price/quality ratio will always revolve at the optimal level. But that’s how things used to be, back when the company’s portfolio was still small; as it kept expanding, Sony Ericsson-branded fashion-savvy solutions were getting closer to what they really should be, since price is not the least important factor here. Surprisingly, people will readily empty their wallets just to make sure the toy they have just bought isn’t widely adopted. Some even go for exotic brands exactly for the same purposes. And as regards to Sony Ericcson, the company is at the crossroads at the moment – at the point where it is still not a trusted and reputable maker of fashion-centric devices, but has all the makings to become one in 1,5-2 years' time.
What’s so special about this stage? The fact is, all parameters, including price, indicate that these solutions are fashion-savvy. But are they perceived as prestigious and steep phones? Let’s be honest here, they are not, people don’t go crazy about them, and basically they haven’t accumulated the halo of fashion-conscious devices around them just yet. So it turns out that in many ways, buying the Z770i you address your own needs and cater for your own taste, rather than try to make a statement and show off a bit. In my opinion, this is the choice of more mature consumers (although still relatively young), who aren’t affected by the latest trends in fashion or mainstream and rather trust their own feelings.
Design is what the Sony Ericsson Z770i is all about. In fact, it is very challenging to think of an alternative to it, a lot of phones start crossing your mind, but they still have little to nothing in common with the Z770i. While many enjoy metallic accents on the front face, the Z770i’s texture and shape are different. All in all, it is in a league of its own.
Frankly, this is one of those few phones, which aren’t fun to play with when they are closed – the manufacturer’s designers have put quite a lot of effort into modeling its buttons, shaping the microphone grill (that looks more like a full-fledged speaker and may well trick you with its appearance).
The handset comes in a choice of three colors - Vogue Red, Graphite Black and Exquisite Golden. But don’t get confused by that “Vogue Red”, in fact the only really red thing in this flavor is the speaker’s plate and the separators on the keypad. The rest of the casing is silvery and all metal on the outside. The black trim mixes up blue with black, whereas the gold edition shows off champagne colors, which are somewhat reminiscent of the Sony Ericsson W890i.
Actually, the Z770i’s color schemes are one of its fortes – while its silvery version is somewhat long-in-the-tooth, for the same trim is employed in a wealth of other solutions, its gold and black flavors are much more compelling. The Z770i’s will burst into the scene in only two colors, whilst the gold trim is set to launch 2-3 months later.
The phone’s front fascia is outfitted with a textured metallic slab; also on top is the camera lens, slightly protruding from the casing. The back of the Z770i is decked out in plastic that is no different from other handsets, being prone to scratches and scuffs. Running along the perimeter is a strip of dark-grey plastic.
The Z770i enjoys a landscape oriented single-line outer display (plus the status bar), that is inactive most of the time, but springs into life whenever you push the side-mounted key or some event comes up.
Perched on the left-hand side is the Fast Port connector, while the opposite spine houses the volume rocker, which is pretty tiny, yet still relatively comfortable. Although, I know some people who still can’t get a hang of this button. Also on the right is the M2 memory card slot covered by a rubber flap. The hinge has a lanyard eyelet in it.
The Z770i feels robust in the hand, being a sturdy built phone with no gaps between parts or loose-fitting details. It starts creaking a little when you grasp it, but it is okay. It’s very easy to flick the Z770i open single handedly.
At 93x48x16 mm and 91 grams the phone readily slips into every pocket, even of your favorite tight-fit jeans.
The display shows up to 262 K colors at 240x320 pixel resolution (2.2-inch diagonal, TFT, 34x45mm), which allows accommodating up to 8 text and 3 service lines in most applications; and when browsing web-pages, or handling e-mails or text messages, you can cram more lines into the display by decreasing the font size. The Z770i handles direct sunlight in a convenient fashion – its display remains readable.
While most Sony Ericsson devices come included with 2-inch displays, the Z770i’s 2.2-inch unit is a nice change, on top of that, as far as colors and brightness are concerned, it is among the market’s finest offerings.
It has been a while since I enjoyed a phone’s keypad so much last time – both in the sense of ergonomics and visual appeal. The Z770i’s keyboard is engraved on one plastic slab with all buttons separated by red ridges (which are color-keyed to the flavor you own). While the keys don’t travel deep inside the casing, every press is tactile and makes the Z770i’s numberpad a breeze to handle. Over the month I spent with this device, the keys didn’t pick up any scratches or cracks, that’s why I was pretty happy with how it held up to abuse. All keys (including the rubber inserts) are lit in white. Combined, all this makes a compelling mix that’s called the Z770i’s keypad.
The handset utilizes a 950 mAh Li-Pol battery (BST-33) rated for up to 8.5 hours talk time and 340 hours standby.
In Moscow its battery life averaged two and a half days with moderate use (up to 1 hour of calls, about 30 minutes of games, 20 minutes of browsing and several hours of music). Within the European networks the device will last for at least twice as long in all modes thanks to better coverage. Continuous music playback drains the battery in 13.5 hours. Its takes the Z770i a tad under 2 hours to charge up.
The handset boasts around 32 Mb of user-manageable memory, unfortunately its sales package doesn’t include a M2 memory card (although Z770i supports up to 4Gb, and even more capacious cards, also you can also swap these cards on the go).
On USB-connection you are forced to pick connection type – specifically whether you will be accessing data stored on the memory card or just keep managing the phone or activate Print mode. Also there is Media Transfer (MTP mode for accessing, say, Windows Media Player). For the first mode we mentioned above the handset goes off and you gain access to the contents of both the memory card and the phone internal memory. Despite the maker claiming it to be USB 2.0, data transfer speed doesn’t exceed 500 Kb/s. If you just want your Z770ii to turn into a modem, then pick the second option, when you will have a chance to play around with various USB settings for going online.
The handset comes with EDR-enabled Bluetooth 2.0, the menu enables you to turn on enhanced power saving mode. There is also A2DP support, which allows employing wireless headsets with the Z770ii. Its data transfer speed tops out at 100 Kb/s. The list of supported profiles:
The handset also comes with HSDPA connectivity onboard.
The Z770i puts up typical numbers for the company’s current generation of devices, being ahead of most models available on the market. There are no limits on JAR-file size, while HEAP size can range from 512 Kb to 1.5 Mb.
The device is equipped with a 2 MP camera with a CMOS matrix without auto-focus. The device supports three possible resolutions - 1632x1224, 640x480, 160x120(should this say 1600 x 1200?) pixels. Two types of data compression (Normal and Fine) are at your disposal. The majority of the sample photos are in the Fine quality. A photo in the Normal mode takes up about 300 KB while the Fine quality results in 500-600 KB.
The camera settings are:
The screen serves as a viewfinder while in the shooting mode. The picture moves very smoothly, details don’t get dropped out. Numeric keys help in switching between various functions and shooting parameters quickly that significantly speeds up work.
Video may be recorded in the 320x240 pixel resolution (3GP). Clip duration may be limited (up to 10 seconds) or unlimited.
We won’t review the Z770i’s standard feature pack, for it comprises all the goodies of the A200, which were given an in-depth close-up in a dedicated article. So here we will be focusing on the phone’s unique abilities and features.
The phone comes preinstalled with 4 different themes, none of which changes the shape of the main menu, although you can upload more themes manually, including those employing flash-animation.
There are three games available in the Z770i - Brain Juice, Investigators and Tennis Multiplayer.
Also you will find Audible here (uploads MP3 audio books, accesses your library), AccuWeather (weather forecast) and Converter.
The Z770i also sports Google Maps 2.0 as a bundled application.
The Z770i comes installed with the A200’s standard feature set, including the multimedia menu, as well as the third-edition player with shrunk functionality (no motion control, some filters are missing, etc). In terms of sound quality, it is no different from Sony Ericsson’s Walkman series, so what it really differs in is software. The Z770i’s radio is also pretty straightforward.
The Z770i’s ring tones volume was never an issue – its speaker fared well in most environments. The reception quality was nothing to complain about either. Our only gripe is with the phone’s vibro alert, which occasionally proves to be on the weak side.
The handset is set to debut this April around the 480-550 USD price point (300 Euro in Europe) – for this money the user gets an interesting design, all standard features of A200 with a couple of minor fresh touches. It is not the most decent price/quality ratio we have seen – its design certainly adds some weight to the price tag. I suppose the looks are the Sony Ericsson Z770i’s major trump, some will definitely like it.
As far its rivals go, the Z770i will find its main competition in the Nokia 6600 that sports exactly the same specs and will arrive in May (while its announcement is scheduled for April). It is also notable for its fashion-savvy design and exactly the same price tag (300 Euro).
Published 17 April 2008
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