The Inquirer-Home

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro

Review An upgraded Qwerty touchscreen phone
Thu Sep 09 2010, 11:30
vivaz-pro-keyboard

Product Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro
Website
http://www.sonyericsson.com/cws/corporate/products/phoneportfolio/specification/vivazpro
Specifications 720MHz processor, 3.2-inch 640x360 16:9 nHD TFT touchscreen, Symbian S60 OS, 109mm x 52mm x 15mm, 117g, up to 75MB storage, microSD up to 16GB, 8GB microSD card included, Symbian S60 OS, , 5.1-megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom
Price £369.99 SIM-free


IF THE ALL-TOUCH aspect of Sony Ericsson's Vivaz handset didn't take your fancy, the new ‘Pro' model with its slide-out Qwerty keyboard may be more up your street.

vivaz-pro-screenBefore you get too excited, it's worth pointing out that although the handset has apparently been designed with messaging and entertainment in mind, we found the keyboard a struggle. More on this in a moment.

With dimensions of 109mm x 52mm x 15mm and weighing 117g, the compact nature of the Vivaz Pro is one of its best features.

The Vivaz Pro looks smart until the keyboard slides out from the casing. The bland design makes the phone look like it was released a decade ago.

The 3.2-inch 16:9 nHD touch screen displays 640x360 pixels and is capable of HD playback, but it isn't the most vibrant screen on the market and contributes significantly to giving the phone a dated feel. Users with a light touch will probably not realise that the device has a touch screen as a heavy-handed approach to swiping and pressing buttons is required to initiate any response.

Using a stylus is a must, otherwise actions such as scrolling will frequently take two or three attempts by hand to get the desired effect, a fact that will leave even the most patient users irritated.

There are three buttons underneath the touch screen, the standard 'call', 'end' and 'main menu' keys. They are quite thin, but are fairly easy to press and thankfully far more responsive than the touch screen.

Sony Ericsson has persisted with Symbian S60, and using the Vivaz Pro makes it clear why rival Nokia is dumping the platform in favour of Meego for its high-end devices. The operating system falls a long way short of the immersive experiences provided by HTC's Sense and Apple's IOS4 interfaces.

The home screen is lifeless, aside from a carousel of four applications at the top. But it is better than the main menu, which consists of a thoroughly uninspiring list of basic applications.

Sony Ericsson does throw in links to the usual social networking applications including Facebook and Twitter. The latter is preloaded into the home screen carousel, which is a nice touch. Google Maps and Wisepilot apps are also included, so the device doubles as a fully functioning navigation tool.

Meanwhile, Roadsync allows users to configure Exchange email, and Quickoffice allows access to documents on the move.

The media option in the menu allows access to BBC Iplayer, but strangely the device is not able to play any videos as it requires the latest version of Adobe Flash. When navigating to the page to download this version, the Adobe web site states that the only mobile phone supported is the Nexus One.

The handset offers access to Sony Ericsson's PlayNow service, where apps, music, wallpapers and themes can be downloaded.

The Vivaz Pro packs a 720MHz processor which, although far from slow, is susceptible to the occasional lag. The allocation of just 75MB of internal memory is disappointing, and is saved only by the fact that Sony Ericsson provides an 8GB micro-SD card.

The lack of any automatic correction and punctuation is a big omission, and gives a prehistoric feel to texting. Sony Ericsson obviously thought that adding a Qwerty keyboard would make the device appeal to messaging addicts, but the implementation is poor.

vivaz-pro-keyboardThe slightly raised letters make an irritating 'clicking' sound when pushed, so users are greeted with a sound similar to bubble wrap popping with every key press.

The keys are not well spaced and force you into stretching your thumbs to reach the letters in the middle of the board. The small size of the keys also means that it is all too easy to hit the wrong letter.

There is an option to ignore the external Qwerty keyboard and use the touch screen to type, but this would be unwise. Although there are a number of keyboard layouts, none of them is easy to use because of the unresponsive nature of the resistive screen.

The onscreen numeric keypad of the Vivaz Pro is the only really passable inputting interface, with big numbers ensuring accurate dialling. However, in reality this is unlikely to be used a lot.

Call quality is good, and there is no reception issue to report. It's one of the few areas where even Sony Ericsson has managed to outdo Apple.

Browsing the Internet is a big letdown on the Vivaz Pro. The formatting on the 3.2in screen is below par and web sites come out squashed. A menu running down the right hand side of the page is very distracting and has to be turned off to make surfing a half decent experience.

Unfortunately, there is no address bar running along the top of the page, which means that the menu on the right has to be reactivated when you want to manually navigate from one site to another.

Browsing over 3G is inconsistent and can go from reasonably quick to incredibly slow. But this is something that affects all smartphones. While WiFi is more consistent, it is susceptible to long loading times as well. Watching music videos from YouTube didn't take that long to get going, but did pause once or twice to buffer.

Battery life is average, with the device lasting two to three days with medium/heavy use. The firm promises up to 12 hours 30 minutes of talk time and 430 minutes of standby time.

vivaz-pro-camera

The company has included a number of features, including 4x digital zoom, auto focus, face and smile detection.

Shoot, focus and scene modes can all be changed quickly through the onscreen menus, and it is easy to toggle between video and photo mode, and zoom in and out with the buttons on the outside of the device.

The camera is very good, but ultimately this is an extra and can't hide the fact that the Vivaz Pro falls short in most of the basic areas.

Overall, the phone does have some good features like the camera and bundled apps, but the interface and navigation is poor. The touch screen can be singled out as one of the worst features of the Vivaz Pro and makes the user experience extremely frustrating at times.

In Short
The Vivaz Pro aims to be the ultimate multimedia device, but feels like it was made a decade ago. The Qwerty keyboard is substandard and the touch screen is one of the most unresponsive on the market. With a multitude of options out there, it's difficult to recommend this handset. µ

The Good
Good camera, compact design, impressive bundle of apps.

The Bad
Poor resistive touch screen, dated Symbian OS, poor Qwerty keyboard, clunky web browser, susceptible to lag.

The Ugly
Looks and feels out of date.

Bartender's Score
4/10

beer4

 

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