Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

the new phone

p900-1.pngSo about a week ago we got a couple of smartphones to start doing some work on them and to understand their capabilities better: a Nokia 6600, and a Sony Ericsson P900, which I got.

While I understand the technologies, capabilities, etc, and have played with them in emulators, I haven't actually owned a smartphone until now. I'll write a more detailed review later (I wanted to play with it for a reasonable amount of time first), but here are some first impressions.

As far as phone functionality, the P900 is quite good. The transition from other apps to the phone is a little awkward but manageable. It comes out of the box with miniheadphones and a microphone, which is crucial considering the phone is at first a little too big to use as a normal phone (later I got used to it though).

Then there's the connectivity: Internet and bluetooth (why oh why doesn't it come with WiFi!). Opera comes in the tools CD, which is nice, but you actually have to install it. Once everything is set up (and I'll dwell on that particular point in a later entry) it works fairly well, usable for many situations, but I don't even want to think how much money it costs to see a simple webpage. Using mobile versions of things like the Google for palm site helps a lot. Too bad it's not so easy to find sites that support that (Opera, btw, is amazing at fitting regular websites in such a tiny screen without completely destryoying the design). Bluetooth works fine, but it's much too slow for file transfers (but this is probably due to the phone rather than Bluetooth's intrinsic speed). The phone also comes with a USB cradle that doubles up as charging station, which is also good, but the transfer speed is also bad, which confirms that it's the phone that is the bottleneck.

Storage: this phone uses the braindead Memory Stick, and Sony in all its wisdom has released a rash of incompatible versions (Regular, Duo, Pro, Duo Pro...). The P900 supports Duo which is limited at 128 MB--ok for a phone but not to store media. This is quite a limitation, and unnecessary IMO.

Software: decent list of basic apps, and of course access to a lot of Symbian apps. Only once, after playing with it for a while, it complained of "low memory" even though I had very few files open. Had to be a memory leak: cue Purify for the Symbian guys. A restart cleared the problem. I also got Task Manager, which has turned out to be a critical tool for looking at running apps, closing them, etc. Don't know if there's a better solution that this.

Finally, media: built-in camera for video and stills. Quality is decent, but I won't be leaving my digital camera behind any time soon. The phone can play MP3s, but the player software that comes with it is a joke (I haven't even found a way of creating playlists), and I haven't yet looked for better software--I don't even know if there is better software. This, coupled with the slow transfers makes it hard to use the phone as your regular MP3 player, but barring any other option it does the job.

Overall, pleasantly surprised on many levels, and a little disappointed at its media handling capabilities (considering this is one of the (if not the) highest-end devices running Symbian, I imagine the situation is similar for most other smartphones. I am probably being unfair in comparing it with devices that only perform a certain function, though. Then again, I don't think it's meant to replace those devices yet.

I got all the necessary tools to write code for it, but I haven't done anything with them--too busy. That'll have to wait for the next few days, or even next week. :)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 15 2004 at 12:36 PM

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