These days, a handset’s sales don’t just depend on the speed of its OS or it design. The user interface plays a very significant role in determining just how good a mobile handset really is. Sony Ericsson recently introduced Timescape and Mediascape UIs in the Xperia X10 Android phone. Here’s our experience with the handset.
Both the black and white versions of the Xperia X10, which employs Sony Ericsson’s Human Curvature design, look sleek. With its light weight, smooth form and 4-inch scratch resistant capacitive touchscreen display, the handset is quite the contrast to Motorola’s Milestone. The resolution is almost the same, although at 480 x 854 pixels, the Xperia features 65k colours while the Milestone features 16 million colours.
Viewing photos is not a problem in broad daylight, and all the details are clearly visible. The three keys below the display — sub menu access, home button and previous screen key — make navigation simple. The Screen Lock/Power button is placed on top beside the 3.5mm hands-free port and the micro USB port. The volume/zoom keys are on one side above the 8MP (with LED flash) camera’s shutter release/activation button. Like the Milestone, the Xperia lacks a hot swap slot for the microSD card. But that shouldn’t matter too much as the bundled 8 GB card plus 1 GB of internal memory and easy USB access won’t require you to remove the card at all. On the whole, the Xperia is a funky looking handset that is comfortable to use and easy to manage.
The standard Android UI (v1.6) works just fine. All actions function smoothly and without visible lag, thanks to the Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon 1 GHz processor. I would have liked a few more default widgets for the multiple desktops but that won’t be an issue for many. The first piece I was sent didn’t allow me to send text messages, nor did the second test piece — but it mysteriously switched on by itself after one week.
Facebook and Google integration with contacts was not as well-managed as it is in the Milestone and all of HTC’s handsets. Multi-touch is also absent. Keeping the home key pressed pulls up the list of all running apps. Timescape and Mediascape are very intuitive interfaces that offer quite a bit of functionality to the social networker and media lover. However, both these UIs take quite a heavy toll on the 1 GHz processor. If either of these UIs were running in the background, the virtual keypads became sluggish and unresponsive, requiring me to retype messages and e-mails. Things will work much smoother if you remove the ‘periodic update’ option.
Timescape allows you to easily update your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Mediascape sorts out all of your media files. One feature of Mediascape that I found very handy was the linking and search option. When using a music file, it allows you to find corresponding information on the artist, song etc. with a direct YouTube link or though Google searches. Using facial recognition software, Mediascape also allows you to track and tag photos of the same people.
While the audio quality and decibel level are good enough, the music player doesn’t offer extra information about the track or artist. The large screen facilitates comfortable video viewing if you can find the right conversion software. Sony Ericsson has not yet adapted DivX and XviD support for the handset. There’s no FM radio, image editing option or voice recorder available. Although Sony Ericsson had announced at the launch that it would provide an exclusive MTV application with the X10, that is not available. The TrackID feature comes preloaded though. A ‘No content available for your region’ error popped up every time I tried accessing PlayNow Arena.
EDGE/GPRS, 3G, and Wi-Fi are the primary modes of Net connectivity. The Android YouTube and Gtalk apps are preloaded. The Google Mail app is also available.
Like in all Android based handsets, you can sync the X10 with online services like Google. You can also sync the device with SE’s own service called Sony Ericsson Sync. Google Maps and Wisepilot (free for three months) are available.
Other than the standard features like a Calculator, Calendar and Alarm Clock, the X10 has voice dialling capabilities and an Office Suite that allows you to open MS documents including PPS, PPT and PDF files. Sony Ericsson has also included their famous QuadraPop game.
The 8MP camera with its LED flash produces crisp images. Some of the darker colours tend to get a bit mixed but not enough to make the picture unclear or tarnished. Video recording is not bad at all. It offers Wide VGA, QVGA and YouTube resolutions. Battery Stand alone talk time averaged at over 4 hours and 15 minutes. The Xperia drains very quickly. However you’ll get a day-and-a-half of usage including calls, social networking, camera and music on a single charge, which is quite impressive.
What we like
Sleek looking handset, comfortable to use
Camera quality is quite good
Audio player is loud and clear
Mediascape and Timescape UIs are well designed and user friendly
Good battery life
What we don’t
New UIs tend to make the handset sluggish
Camera captures video in VGA resolution