sony ericsson P1i impressions

14 July, 2008 § Leave a comment

with the official launch of the 3G iPhone, I’ve heard my co-workers mutter about swopping their trusty Nokias and Samsungs for the Apple experience and it made me think why i have no desire to do the same.

 

got myself a Sony Ericsson P1i end of last year and after 6 months of using it, have to say that sometimes i wonder if it’s smarter than i and that so far we have been very happy together.

 

package

 

the set i bought came with a 1GB M2 memory card, Sony Ericsson PC Suite installation CD, proprietary USB cable and a felt pouch.  the blokes who sold me the mobile also threw in a free cradle (which also enables you to charge the mobile via USB connection), an additional battery and a standalone desktop battery charger.

 

on hindsight, should have requested for them to throw in an adapter which allows me to insert the M2 card directly into standard card readers.  until i invest in a multi-card reader which supports M2 cards, the only way to access the card memory is to hook it up to my computer via the cradle.

 

reception

 

voice call quality is clear and the jog-dial is a useful thing to have when trying to increase or decrease speaker volume during a call.

 

build

 

overall build is decent though one peeve i have is that the camera shutter key is not actually made of metal.  it’s only coated with some sort of sliver paint and half a year of use has resulted in the shutter key revealing its white plastic glory.  i expected much better quality finishing from Sony Ericsson.  bit disappointed.  the finishing on my old Sony Ericsson T610 was much better.

 

battery life

 

in my attempt to mitigate the impact of a large display on battery life, have set LCD brightness at 40% which reduces visibility in daylight but manage 4-5 days of normal usage (read: calls, messaging, reading e-books, listening to music and using FM radio) between each charge.

 

display & jog-dial

 

as a minidisc user, i find the jog-dial a very nifty feature to have.  a large LCD screen was a luxury i’d only previously experienced on my Sony PSP.  display is clear and crisp, and can be programmed to emit a discrete muted “click” sound when an action has been executed.

 

the combination of touch screen and jog-dial is pretty fun and doesn’t take long to get a hang off.  after 6 months, i don’t miss a tactile D-pad at all but i do still miss the wonderful sliding mechanism of the D600 but that’s just me with slide-lust.

 

keyboard-number pad

 

the QWERTY keys are responsive though i reckon folks with larger hands may find it difficult to hit the half-key they want.  it’s Sony Ericsson’s attempt to find a compromise between having QWERTY functionality and not creating a behemoth that no one wants to carry around.  there’s a bit of learning to do but for me at least, it works for typing out medium-length word documents.

 

some of the keys double up as letter keys as well as the number pad.  when you depress a number key while in main screen mode, it automatically inputs numbers and not text.  the half-keys generally work fine as a number pad substitute for me.

 

customising screens

 

having never owned a smartphone previously, i found the UIQ3 interface fairly user-friendly.  you can customise the main screen with up to fifteen shortcut icons to bring you directly to your most commonly accessed files or functions.

 

in other screens, i find displaying information as a list (with descriptive labels) makes it a breeze to navigate by using the jog-dial.  reducing the font size also allows you to view more items at a glance.

 

connectivity

 

the P1i has a plethora of the common connectivity features – WIFI, Bluetooth and infra-red.  WIFI is easy to set up and run, but it zaps the life out of the battery pretty fast.  So far, have had no problems connecting to the free local WIFI in town.

 

installing applications

 

installation of applications can be done on the phone itself (after you’ve loaded the installation file into the phone or card memory) or done with the PC Suite software on a computer (which requires you to execute certain steps on the phone itself).

 

my favourite applications to date are the MobiPocket Reader and Swiss Manager.

 

the reader allows me to read ebooks on-the-go.  formatting is easy on the eyes and you can tweak the background and font colours to your taste.  also discovered that pressing the ALT key followed by the left/right arrow keys will toggle the display from portrait to landscape mode and vice versa!

 

MobiPocket Reader for Symbian devices can be found here.

 

Swiss Manager works like a task manager.  it allows you to browse the file directory of your phone and memory card, and also allows you to close applications running in the background to free up RAM power for other needs.

 

Swiss Manager can be found here.

 

camera

 

shutter speed is slow compared to the D600.  i also find the shutter key difficult to depress and this is exacerbated by the time lag between releasing the key and the actual image capture.  that and my little gripe about the sliver finish wearing off.

 

however, the camera excels when it comes to taking macro shots.  it beats my trusty Konica-Minolta D400 hands down in terms of clarity, detail and distance from the subject when it comes to macro shots.

 

normal shots are ok, but the lagginess means you need a somewhat steadier hand and the ability to remember to hold your breath if you don’t want grainy images when displaying at a larger size.

 

office

 

it doesn’t come with Microsoft Office Mobile, but QuickOffice does its job when it comes to Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.  there’s also a PDF viewer, though i’ve been having problems getting it to display with proper formatting so far.

 

web

 

the built-in browser is functional but i prefer using Opera Mini for web browsing and a Gmail mobile app for checking my mail.

 

file transfer

 

each time you hook up the P1i to the cradle, the Sony Ericsson PC Suite prompts you to choose to connect to the computer in phone mode or in file transfer mode.  different modes give you access to different applications.

 

music and document transfers are done easily via drag-and-drop in the file transfer mode.  video transfers can be done in the same way.

 

video

 

you need to get the encoding parameters right so that videos will render smoothly on the phone.  videos encoded in MP4 played in starts-and-stops but worked fine when i re-encoded them in 3GP format.

 

audio

 

the choice of a proprietary port by Sony Ericsson is a bug bear but there’s an article on anythingbutipod explaining the difference in functionality between a universal USB port and a proprietary one that mildly placates me.

 

audio playback is decent but ease of use is let down by the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack for you to use your choice of phones.  my solution – a cheap third party headphone adapter, which i found for about USD$6 at the local mall, allowing me to hook up my CK7s.

 

these are just some impressions i coddled together since i’m feeling restless and all.  i’m afraid it’s not a proper review or anything of that nature because i’m no techie.  will be happy to hear your impressions too if you have one of these.

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