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Sony Ericsson K850i review

Sony Ericsson K850i review
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The K850i Cyber-shot phone is a true digital still camera - down to the very last of its 5 megapixels. Automatic lens cover. Auto focus for no-hassle sharpness, xenon flash for poor light conditions.
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Review On : Sony Ericsson K850i
Review by Dmitry Ryabinin (smape.com)
Sony Ericsson is an old-time player on the camera phone market. This alliance of two companies gave birth to the whole market segment by releasing the legendary K750i. The model was so nicely balanced that it's popular even today thanks to a smart combination of all necessary functions coming at low price which is now lower than $200. But the industry is moving ahead and demands new solutions. Seeking to outreach the pace of market development, last year the Swedish-Japanese corporation have released the popular K790i, which had a twin 3G K800i version, and this year the model line was expanded with the stylish K810i. This trio hasn't become as much of a revelation to the market as its famous precursor, but the eminent pedigree and nice feature set of the model put them among the best sold devices in their respective segments. Now is't time for a new round in SE cameraphone development - the long-expected Sophia K850i model is released. This is a novelty Cyber-Shot flagship, which is meant to challenge Nokia N95 and Samsung G600 imaging capabilities. Will the new solution by the popular company leading in the segment of top cameraphones class justify the hopes of their fans ?
There are quite a lot of changes in comparison with K790i/K800i and K810i and those are rather important. Of course, first of all it's a 5 Mp camera vs. a 3.2 Mp one in previous models. There were many arguments about quality comparisons with the Finnish competitor so we held a detailed test. Detailed test, the winner of which was N95. Though the perfect macro mode is on the side of K850i, it's comparable to the Korean competitor, except the closest macro shots of printed documents - here G600 proves weaker. And the usual ultracompact hand-held camera is beating the whole trio in most cases. So people who are expecting from K850i the maximum photo quality won't be completely pleased. The next remarkable innovation is the updated A200 Software platform. There aren't many differences from the previous A100 platform revision. This is, in principle, an advantage - it's one of the most powerful platforms on the market on a par with Nokia S40 3rd edition. Among the most pleasing things let's check the introduction of a full-scale gallery, an updated version of music player etc. A worthy response to S40 5th edition.
Finally, let's check the hardware implementation - SE had set a goal to create a device as close as possible to a casual digital camera, and they succeeded. K850 is mostly similar to a usual photocamera. There is a dedicated on\off button, "quick" control buttons (to be more exact, the indication of right column of buttons on the keypad - like in K810i), the mode switch slider (photo, video, view), and a group of less fundamental features. The only sad thing here is that the phone still can't be switched on without a SIM-card in, though it's possible to take it out after bootup. like in Samsung models, this is an old disease of SE phones. The Koreans are promising to fix this problem by the next year and the Sweden-Japanese developers are keeping silence. In spite of this on the whole the corporation succeeded to introduce one important thing - K850i is not accepted by the public just like a casual phone. The novelty is really looking like a hand-held camera and that is its great plus. None of the competitors have reached such a success in this area so far.
As we see, Sony Ericsson haven't got so many trumps besides the camera, everything is rather typical. We'd check out just the availability of 2 expansion slots, this is the first model supporting microSD. K850i is an innovation in one more aspect - simultaneous EDGE and 3G-networks support. Finally, the motion sensor is present. If we remember the history, Samsung (and several small companies) have already burned their hands trying to touch this, so the Swedish- Japanese implementation of this feature is a point of great interest.
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos

Design, ergonomics
like most Sony Ericsson phones, the new K850i is created in candy bar form factor. Two color variants are available - Velvet Blue and Luminous Green. Though only navigation key border and side panel color differ plus in the blue variant the sides are silver. The selection depends entirely on taste, there is no great difference between these 2 variants.
K850i ergonomics disappoints immediately - the device sits in the in the hand in a very awkward manner. Judging the size, it is not the biggest one around and the length is average. But all characteristics are not optimally fitted to each other, so the case seems to be disbalanced, especially concerning the dimensions. We decided to check this opinion and asked 10 people next door to comment on this point. Half of them admitted K850i is really inconvenient, three kept neutral and the two remaining persons complained about small flaws but on the whole they were pleased. The inconveniencies are mostly associated with the rather sharp corners, they leave an unpleasant feel while getting used to the devce. Check that K850i is comparable to Nokia N95 in folded state, in spite of a much larger screen, collapsible construction and the rich stuffing (GPS, Wi-Fi etc.) in N95.
The same goes to menu navigation. It's carried out only by the framelike button and some secondary functions fall to a number of sensor elements. We hope that SE will improve implementation of these elements before the sales start because it rather poor in its present state. It's possible to get used to strange navi-key and after about a month of using the phone there aren't so many stray keystrokes, but the sensors often do a bad turn - input mistakes lead to unpredictable sms sending god knows whom, accidental file deletion and other harmful conswquences.
Let's have a closer look of how the 3 soft keys work. Really, these are closer to traditional buttons than sensory ones, their operation in principle differs from Samsung devices. If in the majority of Samsung products their sensitive areas react to soft touch then in K850i the buttons react exactly to pressing, not to touching. The fact is that the button can be accidentally pressed by anything, there is no reaction to body heat, as it turned out in the course of the tests. The pressure threshold is rather low, there is no tactile feedback, this brings further difficulties in operation. The sensitive areas are too small for comfortable operation and the normal hardware button are too crowded, the result being is that constant pressing on these 3 keys leads to a very typical problem - grease and fingerprints stick to the screen, though there is no need to worry about the screen matrix durability.
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos

The main keypad reminds the similar element in T610i - each key is a small square, though made of black plastic, not chrome-plated. The element isn't ideal (for example, the key depression could be a little deeper) but on the whole it's ok. The backlighting system with different color tints keeps all the same, it's interesting and convenient.
Call buttons appeared. They weren't present in any other device under this brand, save for some low-end ODM models. Call and drop buttons are covered with silver paint, which started to peel off right after a short usage period which became a very unplesant surprise. Such defects are met rather often today and K850i is not an exception. This defect is especially remarkable at night while when the backlighting turns on.
As for the rest of control elements, the set has also a number of interesting things about. We'll check the battery bay which is located on the back side of the case. Memory expansion slot is near, it supports two formats simultaneously - M2 and MicroSD (though it's not possible to use both cards at the same time, though the contacts are separated). The idea is unique for the modern mobile phone market but its implementation is poor - microSD cars often twists on insertion, it necessary to watch check it every time and turn back to normal position. There is a SIM-card holder located symmetrically to the memory card slot. Such "geography" allows to take out both memory and SIM card without turning off the device. Taking into account the lack of a full-blown normal Flight Mode this nuance is quite useful.
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos

The interface port (of a trademark form factor - Fast Port) is located at the bottom, near the battery cover. It is used for plugging in the headset, there is no separate output. While the accessory is connected it's impossible to open the battery bay. It isn't nice remembering that the memory card slot is located there. At the top of the casing the power button is located. On the right side we can see a volume adjustment button and the camera controls block - the mode switch slider and the launch and shoot keys.


SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos

Let's compare the dimensions with Nokia N95 and Samsung G600:
K850i vs N95 vs Samsung G600 K850i vs N95 vs Samsung G600
K850i vs N95 vs Samsung G600 K850i vs N95 vs Samsung G600

Also in comparison with N95 it's necessary to check out that the control elements arrangement in the last one is rather standard and it better sits in the hand.
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos

Let's also compare with Sony Ericsson K810i:
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos

Finally let's check the awkwardness of the K850i exterior. The casing is fully made of plastic and leaves the impression of a relative durability - after some time bruises and worn spots will become an essential part of design, and the glossy surfaces will suffer from minute cracks. The whole back panel becomes covered with a web of small scratches - it's absolutely flat, smooth and textureless, so nothing protects it from harmful physical contacts with various surface etc. On the whole the material quality as well as that of assembly is rather mediocre, though when the finalized commercial version of the product finally gets released, the situation can improve. In addition, the case is rather exposed to greasing, it's necessary to wipe it rather often - a problem quite familiar to all K810i owners, but on a bigger scale (the K850i back panel has a matte surface).
SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos

The last unpleasant nuance is the placement of the speaker. If the phone is rested on the table with the back panel tutned to the table the sound is seriously blocked. It's a great secret for us what prevented the constructors to solve this problem more intelligently.
Communications
SonyEricsson K850i_rev 

Screenshots Sony Ericsson K850i is meant to work in GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and UMTS 850/1900/2100 networks, it supports GPRS/EDGE. This is the first device of this model line that supports both 3G and EDGE. For example in K790i and K800i these functions were separated. HSDPA instead of HSCSD in K800i is supported. For some reason it's not possible to use K850i with external antenna though it was possible to do with previous models.
In contrast to Nokia N95 the new model is lacking Wi-Fi which could allow uploading of videos and photos to blogs. IRDA is also absent (though it was present in precursors), there is only Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) module. There are no complains about its operation, also while using headset. The following data exchange profiles are supported:
  • Basic Imaging
  • Dial-up Networking
  • File Transfer
  • Generic Access
  • Generic Object Exchange
  • Handsfree
  • Headset
  • HID
  • JSR-82 Java API
  • Object Push
  • Personal Area Networking
  • Serial Port
  • Synchronization
  • SyncML OBEX binding
  • A2DP
  • Audio/Video Remote Control
  • Phonebook Access
    Now the Bluetooth operation with active flight mode is available. There wasn't such function in K800i.
    The wire connection is implemented using the traditional interface. A USB 2.0 support is stated by the manufacturer, but in reality the data exchange speed is much lower. The only hope is that for newer firmware versions that would possibly fix this. The three traditional connection types are supported: Modem Connection, Mass Storage and PictBridge are supported. The required mode can be selected in the corresponding menu. In our tests, Mass Storage connection functioned correctly, both storage segments (Internal phone memory and memory card) were showing up properly. Synchronization using the Ericsson PC Suite application is also possible. It can be found on the bundled CD.
    The FM-tuner is still present, but now it comes with the TrackID service which allows to recognize the sound signal directly from the radio. It's a very pleasant bonus for a not-Walkman device.
    The Active Sync support appeared.
     SonyEricsson K850i  SonyEricsson K850i
     SonyEricsson K850i  SonyEricsson K850i
     SonyEricsson K850i  SonyEricsson K850i

    Memory
    Sony Ericsson K850i has a total of 40 Mb of integrated storage which is even more modest than in the precursors, but in contrast to them the new model is equipped with 2 standard memory slots. MicroSD support undoubtedly adds universality to K850i, this is a good step for SE. The bundled M2-Card has 1Gb capacity, the official top is 4 Gb.
    Display
    Sony Ericsson K850i is equipped with a QVGA (320x240) TFT display. There are 262K colors in the color rendition palette and the diagonal is 2.2" which is less than is N95. In fact the picture is very nice sporting full contrast, brightness and rich in colors. Not brilliant yet very good. The viewing angles are excellent. The display behaves in a nice way when exposed to the direct sunlight thanks to its mirror backing - the screen information remains perfectly legible. Really the picture is pleasant - contrast, bright and rich.The viewing angles are excellent.

    SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos
    SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos
    Nokia N95 is on the left, Sony Ericsson K850i on the right

    As we see, due to a smaller size of the screen the image looks sharper, the corners of the items are smoother. The brightness is a little higher. In other points the parity is full. Though the extra 0,4" in diagonal seem more important to us so N95 is more preferable. As for G600, Samsung is comparable to the competitors but has less brightness like Nokia and less diagonal length like SE so it loses to both models.
    User interface
    like the W910i, the model in question has become the first Sony Ericsson A200-based model on the market. The changes are not revolutionary in comparison to A100 but there are some interesting moments. Here are the most important ones:
  • Gallery
  • 3.0 version player + DRM 2.0
  • Smart Search
  • Java Platform 8 (JP-8)
  • Extended contact list capacity (5000)
  • Nwe browser (NetFront 3.4)
  • ActiveSync and MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) support
    Also there are plenty of less important changes. On the whole everything is maximum evolutionary so the brand's fans will surely be satisfied.
    The phone can be styled up to the owner's liking by applying a number of themes. The implementation is deserving attention. Besides the picture from the theme, any picture or photo can be used as a desktop wallpaper. Any .SVF animation can be used as a screensaver. During standby the screen is informative enough, the top line contains indicators showing the signal level, battery charge, message and call notifications, Bluetooth status and so on. Even the screen clock appearance can me customized, which can be defined in screen settings.
    The main menu looks in the traditional way of most SE products: a total of four rows of bright, neat looking animated icons which can be optionally replaced with a fascinating flash-theme with a lot of customizable aspects including the icon order, size, animation, color and so on. Moving the selection from one icon to another is accompanied with a slight vibration if the selected them has this feature turned on. Five themes come preinstalled on the device. The twelve icons make up the main menu:
  • PlayNow
  • Internet
  • Entertainment
  • Camera
  • Messaging
  • Media
  • Alarms
  • Contacts
  • Radio
  • Calls
  • Organizer
  • Settings
    The menu can be navigated through by pressing the numeric keys in a desired sequence, each key corresponding to a menu item with the same number that should be activated. Besides the vertically arranged menu items, some menus contain horizontal sub-tabs, e.g. the File manager of Call log menus, such tabs can be opened or minimized by pressing the navigation button left or right.
    The menu is easy to understand and comfortable, the only shortcoming is the lack of possibility to change the order of items, sorting them to your liking, though such manufacturers as Nokia and Motorola have been making use of such functionality for quite a while by now. For example lets look at the icon which launches the PlayNow service, used for downloading music tracks and ringtones. Its difficult to guess how justified is the placenebt of this shortcut in the quick launch menu, but its obvious that most of the customers would prefer to replace this button with something else - for example, the profiles menu or FM tuner application.
    K850i also possesses a 'quick' menu with 4 bookmarks, which can be called by pressing the button to the right from the navigation key:
  • New Events
  • Running apps
  • My shortcuts
  • Internet
    The first one lists all the events: reminders, calls and messages. The second one shows the list of currently running applications, in fact its a task manager that allows switching between currently running Java tasks. This, for instance, allows playing your favorite game and talking to people over ICQ at the same time with no need to interrupt either process. This feature is one of the cornerstones of the platform. The third tab of the quick menu stores user shortcuts. The fourth is for keeping bookmarks and links to frequently used resources.
    Phone service
    The phonebook can store up to 5000 records (earlier only 1000), up to 7 numbers (earlier 5) per record. One home, 3 mobile types (usual, private and work), work, fax and other. Upon adding a new number its necessary to specify the type of the number, each following number cannot duplicate the type of the previous one, so its impossible to create, for example, 2 mobile numbers. It isnt necessary to open the contact record to look through the contactee's all numbers the numbers can be browsed through while pressing the navigation key sideways. If there are several numbers in each entry, its possible to select the main one.
    In addition, its possible to add an E-Mail address, IM-Number, www-address, mail address, birth date. The last one can be synchronized with organizer, so you will never forget about your beloved grandmothers birthday, because the phone will remind you to buy her a present. Also a contact can be given an associated short note.
    Contact records can be distributed between various user groups however you cant distinguish a group by giving it a unique icon or ringtone which for sure is a sad thing. Though that doesnt keep you from giving unique ringtone and icon to each individual record you can even select one of your voice records for that.
    Traditionally, the main list displays contacts either from the phone memory or from the SIM-card, but cannot show the both types in a single list. Its not comfortable at all. But the possibility of making backups of the whole phonebook which are then placed to the memory card is, on the other hand, a great plus. Unfortunately, there is no support for blacklisting (like in Samsung phones, for example) so it's necessary to install third party application to block them undesired calls. The sortment is available, you can edit the phone book entries but only by the name or surname.
    Smart search is a number filter. You type the first numbers in idle mode and select necessary number from the contact list. The system is similat to Samsung or Windows Mobile smartphones.
    The number of voice marks you can leave for further usage with the voice dial option is limited to 40 thats an outdated system theyre using, no changes can be traced from the days of T610i, we wouldnt say its too comfortable (well, telling the truth, it in fact isnt). Motorola phones for instance sport a much better realization of this feature.
    PhotoID and VideoID services are well-implemented, the image used as the call icon is large enough. The font in which the phone numbers are displayed during dialup is big enough to see from a distance. Numeric keys from 2 to 9 can be used as quick dial shortcuts, the only thing you need is to associate a phone number with a particular keypad button.
    The call log shares a common SE design received, dialed and missed calls are shown on the same list, each call type distinguished with a corresponding icon, but you can also switch between separate logs for each specific call type by pressing the navigation button left and right. The number types are provided with corresponding icons in the main list, everything is clear.
    Messaging
    Sony Ericsson are known for the efficiency of the messaging system theyre putting in their phones up to 1000 SMS can be stored in the user memory (plus the SIM card SMS storage), the MMS service also enjoys on the best implementations ever. Besides you can read RSS feeds, just specify the address and title of the feed and youre done, no specific settings are required for that. Messages can be categorized, but seemingly no other differences from the traditional messaging system widely found with other SE devices. Upon creating a new message the user is prompted to select one of the following types: Text message, Picture message, Voice message or E-mail.
    A fast symbol line prompts when to expect the needed symbol while youre typing - a very helpful aid to those who seldom compose messages. The maximum message length is limited to 1900, up to eight lines of text fall into the field of view simultaneously. The Copy & Paste function is a very helpful addition that allows either for the whole text or for selected fragments of it to be copied. Besides a limited number of Nokia models, no analogous functionality is known to exist on the market. The function can be called through the context menu, then you have to mark the beginning and the ending of the fragment you want to select. Additional messaging features include T9 input, emoticons, chat support.
    You can select one of the 7 stock signals for the incoming message sound or choose a custom audio file. Options include the so-called reading notice if activated, the recipient of the message will be asked for a acknowledgement that the message was read that he can confirm it really makes sense for messages of extreme urgency when its vital to know that the message was read by the recipient.
    The E-Mail client is not bad yet it could use a little bit more functionality. Attachments are supported, they can be saved to ROM no matter if it can be correctly recognized by the application. Theres no support for viewing Office files. E-mail messages can be sorted by size, date and time or by the content of the message itself. Three font sizes are available for the messages: small, medium and large. The message can be displayed in fullscreen mode, the copy/paste functionality is supported.
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots

    The following encodings are supported:
  • ISO: ISO-8859-1, ISO-8859-2, ISO-8859-5, ISO-8859-7, ISO-8859-9.ISO-8859-10
  • Windows: Windows-1251, Windows-1252, Windows-1254, Windows-1255, Windows-1258
  • US-ASCII
  • Unicode: UTF-7, UTF-8, UTF-16
  • Japanese: Shift.JIS, ISO-2022-JP
  • Cyrillic: KOI8-R
  • Simplified Chinese: GB2312, GB18030
  • Traditional Chinese: Big5
  • Thai TIS - 60
    The general characteristics of the client are :
    OTA Yes
    Push email protocols POP3 and IMAP4 IMAP Idle (IMAP4Rev1 extensions), OMA Email Notification 1.0 and scheduled mail check
    Security SSL/TLS, POPS/IMAPS and STARTTLS
    Remote control OMA Client Provisioning and Nokia Smart Messaging
    HTML mail Yes (tagless)
    Inline images Yes
    Message management Latest 50 headers or size limit
    ESMTP Yes
    Background delivery Yes

    We'd like to cast the spotlight at the MMS service functions, since those enjoy a really great implementation on the A200 platrform. All typed of Multimedia content can be attached to the message from a number of sources: File Manager, Phonebook, Calendar, Tasklist, Note, Browser (vBookmars), and photos for attaching can also be taken right from the camera application without saving them to the ROM. The following media formats are supported :
    The following audio formats are supported:
  • AAC, AMR, MPEG Layer 3, Real 8, AWB, WAV, MP4, MIDI, iMelody, 3GPP, XMF, M4A, RHZ, WMA
  • video: MPG4, 3GPP, SDP, Real8, WMV
  • graphics: JPEG, GIF87, GIF89A, PNG, SVG, WBMP, BMP
    As we see, everything is quite all right for a casual phone. The photo or the picture in the message can keep their original size, or automatically scaled down to 640480, 320240 or 120160. Its possible to turn on the message autoload system, delivery and read report, to select the creation mode (with limitations or warnings), this option concerns the message size.
    PIM
    The calendar supports viewing by month or week, in the latter case the days are divided into a hourly schedule each, also you can quickly skip to a specified year, day and month. Its possible to specify the type of event, duration, place and alert. A reminder can start playing even if the phone is switched off as long as the corresponding option is checked. Events can be automatically repeated at a specified interval, and also any event can be set to expire after a certain period of time.
    A meeting can be set for any date. Its possible to specify the subject, the start time and the duration, the reminder interval and a short description. The tasklist suffers from a rather poor implementation with just a couple of event types available: a task or a phone call.
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots

    The Birthday field can be synchronized with the PIM, so you would never forget about your beloved grandmother's birthday because the phone is bound to remind you about that. The reminder can be set to play in advance, exact on the date of the event, or at any custom interval you want.
    The alarm clock can be set to be activated only once or on a scheduled basis. There are a total of 5 independently configured alarm clocks available, so its even possible wake up the dead. Any audio file can be used as a ringtone.
    The reminders, timer, stopwatch and calculator are quite standard. The password manager application is used for keeping all sorts of user passwords.
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots

    Multimedia
    Sony Ericsson products keep traditionally strong positions in this area, including format compatibility. The K850i model supports quite a number of audio formats: MP4 (AAC, AAC+, eAAC+), MP3 (up to 192 kb/s officially, though out tests revealed practical compatibility with higher bitrates), M4A, 3GPP (AAC, AMR), AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WAV, G-MIDI, RealAudio 8, eMelody, iMelody, RHZ, XMF, WMA, and video: MP4 (MPEG4+AAC/AMR), 3GPP (MPEG4/H.263/H.264+3gp/AAC/AMR), RealVideo 8, WMV ASF, graphics: JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, SVG, WBMP. All the more or less common formats are supported.
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots

    Let's go on tel with the most interesting thing - Media. Really, it's a usual viewer, but the interface is Sony PSP-like and uses the movement sensor which changes the screen orientation. The last feature is on consumer's taste due to it's not always easy in use. So, the turn can only be handed to left. If the phone was turned to the right or to the other side the position will rest the same. And if you decided to watch the recorded materials while laying on the left side of your body, the screen will helpfully turn.. yes, horyzontally so you'll have to chanse the settings manually. It's nice that it can be simply switched off so it won't be annoying you.
    As we remember, Sony Ericsson is nor the first company who burn their hands touching this. The last one was Samsung who refused from the implementation of the motion sensor even taken that it passed all the preliminary tests. And, besiders the screen aspect auto-switch, in K850i this element is needed just in a few games, for example, in the preinstalled MarbleMadness. Returning to the Gallery, let's inquire a bit more about its functional structure. Photo, Music, Video, TV and Settings items are available. The functions are the following:
    Photo. This is the main item in the new Cyber-Shot flagship which allows to view the last taken shot or the whole album, to filter material by tags and view pictures, access the podcasts. In addition, a slide-show function is available, its implementation surely deserves attention, in contrast to Samsung G600, though this feature is more functional in Nokia N95.
    Music. This is the audio player sorting catalog, where the album, singer, tracks, playlists, podcasts and audiobooks can be selected, listed and filtered to meet certain criteria. The player itself is nice, it has all basic functions but little more than that. We'll look at it better in multimedia part of this survey.
    Video. This is a videoplayer, also acting like a movies and podcasts catalog.
    TV. This is a digital TV access station.
    Settings. These are gallery settings which are, ironically, very scarce - just a few motion sensor settings. It's possible to set album or portrait mode manually or to activate auto-rotation.
    The player has been updated to third version, but in not-Walkman device this is not obvious. The navigation has changed, the DRM 2.0 support has been added, also some small improvements have appeared. For example, if we stop and think a little, the Digital Rights Management (DRM) is used for technologies, providing music access control. Do many people really require such a function ?
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots

    Some time ago Open Mobile Alliance organization prepared a packet of research documents describing methods of digital content distribution, interaction protocols for mobile phones and other DRM devices. OMA DRM standard provides the ability to control mobile content usage. This occurs by means of adding special copyright signatures to the distributed content. The signatures define the end user usage policy, which may include time limits or a fixed number of launches, and other kinds of protection. Different combinations of these parameters are also available.
    What does the second revision of the platform bring on? Back in 2001, methods like Forward Lock, Combined Delivery, Separate Delivery were on the OMA DRM 1.0 specifications list. In comparison with it, the newer specifications also define a set of functional extensions, such as Domains, combined object rights etc. something like logical continuation, but nothing else. The player controls are very comfortable, settings like track repeat, play random, sorting by performer, genre, extended stereo (but this option really does not affect the sound quality) are included. There is also the progressive track rewinding. The info on the currently playing song is on the phone screen.
    The player controls are very easy to use, the options include auto repeat, random order playback, sorting by performer, genre, enhanced stereo (turning on that function didn't give us an impression of the sound quality getting any better, though). Progressive rewinding is fully supported. The info about the currently playing song are shown on the phone screen.
    There's no support for selectable themes, which looks as a kind of failure as compared to the latest Nokias. There is no connection with movement sensor like in W910i. The headset is quite a trivial piece, its quaolity is rather average, it only provides for an acceptable audio quality and little more, worse than in Walkman and G600. The accessory possesses only the single 'Respond' button, there are no extra player controls like Rewind, Pause/Play or anything like that. The sound volume during mp3 playback is enough for most environments, yet in some really noisy places the maximum volume might seem a little bit too low. We consider it a noticeable fault since very few competitive solutions suffer from that. The overall audio quality doesn't seem to reach the ideal. In general, the latest Nokias are comparable in audio quality and player ergonomics while Samsung products cleanly beat the competitors in terms of sound quality and volume.
    Despite of standing alone from company musical solutions, the TrackID service is fully realised. With its help you record a part of the composition and it's being transfered to the internet. The composer and singer name, if available, is being returned to you like a message. If it happens it means that you can find the composition in the data bank and you can buy it. The service is interesting for large number of users, the largest part of them is young people. The possibility of connecting the integrated FM-tuner is interesting. And the loudness in radio mode is nice. it's a little more loud than in MP3 playback mode. RDS support and search are present.
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots There's a PhotoDJ graphics editor coming along with the preinstalled applications. You can do primitive actions and apply simple effects to photos in it or just to paint. MusicDJ also presents.
  • Rotation
  • Auto levels,
  • Brightness,
  • Gamma,
  • Contrast,
  • Red Eye Filter,
  • Special FX (Negative, Cartoon, Frosted glass, Painting)
  • Add object (Frame, Clipart, Text)
    Two other are less interesting - the midi format music tracks editing, creation of short movies with standard objects. Their necessarity is normal.
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots

    The voice recorder application can be used during phone talks, but you have to engage the menu to activate it prior to each talk to be recorded. The free memory size is the only limitation to a record's length.
    Preinstalled Applications
    In addition to all the multimedia applications mentioned above, the phone also sports a number of preinstalled applications including a decent web browser powered by the SmartFit technology (that allows to rearrange and resize page elements so a regular page would fit the small screen, which is achieved by turning it into a single column of text). The options inlcude Save Picture, Change View Aspect and Zoom. Well, if you are in a real need of extensive web browsing, you'd rather want the OperaMini browser instead.
    Java implementation made us glad :
  • Java 2, Micro Edition (J2ME)
  • CLDC1.1(JSR139)
  • MIDP2.0(JSR118)
  • Wireless Messaging API (JSR 120/205)
  • Mobile Media API (JSR 135)
  • Java Technology for the Wireless Industry (JSR 185)
  • Java API for Bluetooth (JSR 82)
  • PDA Optional Packages for J2ME Platform (JSR 75)
  • Web Services (JSR 172)
  • Advanced Multimedia Supplements API (Camera Capabilities of JSR-234)
  • Java 3D
  • Mascot Capsule Micro3D Version 3
  • Mobile 3D Graphics API for J2ME (JSR 184)
  • Java Platform 8 (JP-8)
    Especially we'll check the Java Platform 8 (JP-8). K850i (like the other A200-novelties of the massive summer SE launch) has become the first model in the world with such functionality. If not to look at the details, this instrument makes the programmist' hands free, this is simultaneously an instant messaging\chat, money transactions, safe identification and many other features.
    We will look at Java perfomance a bit further.
    From the preinstalled games we'll check out the rather nice Tennis Multiplay - a classic sport game sporting some great 3D graphics. Also there is Marble Madness 3D which uses the movement sensor. Remote control application is available which allows to control some PCoperations remotely, though some special software has to be preinstalled on PC before its usage. It's packaged with the phone.


    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots

    A rather simple file manager offering only a basic functionality is part of the phone's software platform. Curiosly, much to the contrary of the phonebook, it allows for separate categorized listing of ROM and card-stored files in addition to the all-embracing file listing mode.
    The software installation process is a very simple procedure - the only thing you need is to send the .jar distributive to the phone over Bluetooh. Similar to the rest of Sony Ericsson products utilizing the A100 software platform, there's a possibility to run a number of Java applications simultaneously, i.e. multitasking. The number of simultaneously run application can be very impressive - the virtual Java machine is powerful enough to handle them all. A running application can be minimezed to the background, it will be still running. The list of running applications is shown in the corresponding tab in the Activity menu - where the user can terminate running ones, switch between them and so on - the implementation is very user friendly.
    Settings
    Five tabs with settings are traditionally present:
  • General
  • Sounds & alerts
  • Display
  • Calls
  • Connectivity
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots The first tab is used for selecting a profile (Normal, Meeting, In car, Outdoors, Handsfree, Home, Office) - there's no way to a custom user profile though the existing ones can be edited.
    The same menu is utilized for setting the time and date, language, updating software and voice control configuration.
    You have to make your own voice marks in order to use voice control, there's no such functionality that is now found with the latest generation of Nokia and Motorola handsers. The voice response is also possible, the contectee's name can be pronounced automatically upon receiveng an incoming call, the 'magic word' function is available as well - a voice command that enable voice control over additional accessories when they're plugged in - a mini headset or the car speakerphone.
    The incoming message reminder can be configured in this meny (two options - pop-up window or a notice in the event menu); the actions associated with the different directions of the navigation button or the joystick are customizable here as well. The same menu item includes the Settings Wizard, the security management options and a feature that allows to reset all the user settings to their default values.
    The flight mode option is accessible from the same menu, though the device won't work if you remove the SIM card entirely, which is a somewhat shallow approach to this function as compared to Nokia, for instance.
    The second tab is used for selecting the ringtone, setting the volume, also it includes a selectable fade-in effect for the ringtone sound, customizable keypad sounds, light effects and so on.
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev 

Screenshots

    The third tab allows to choose a theme or an independent wallpaper, a welcome phrase, the standby splash screen, its brightness (100% by default) and the size of the screen clock (large or small).
    The fourth tab hosts the list of Call service options (Speed Dial, Time & Cost, Show / Hide My No.) and the Smart Search.
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev 

Screenshots

    The last tab stands for Bluetooth and USB settings, a whole set of synchronization options are available, the Web connection options are also available here.
    Camera
    As for the camera, K850i is not a revelation for the market which is dominated by Nokia N95 for more than a month. But this is the key side of the model and, not including the abortive LG KG920 there are only 3 such solutions in Russia today. Sony Ericsson variant looks most novel - for the first time in the world the lens guard is covered by a protective glass and is being opened and closed automatically. On the one hand, it's much more difficult now to repair it in case of any mechanical damage. But on the other hand the chance of taking such damage is lower. It happened so that this article was being completed while our Russian reviewer was spending his holidays and one day K850i fell right on the beach sand. Much to his delight, the camera module took no damage because of the peculiarity described above.
    SonyEricsson K850i Photos SonyEricsson K850i Photos

    Also the xenon flash is another remarkable feature from the K850i hardware set. It is similar to K800i. And the whole back case side is glance as already mentioned, so, despite of black colour, it's also a glass for the self-photo taking. The maximum resolution is 2592x1944, the video size - modest 320x240. A 3G-camera for video calls is located above the screen. 16x digital ZOOM is available, also as foto as video can be published directly to your blog.
    We've already published on our site the following camera comparison test:
    Comparison of SonyEricsson K850i, Samsung G600 and Nokia N95 cameras

    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots
    SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots SonyEricsson K850i_rev Screenshots

    Let's stop on settings and some peculiarities of the camera interface of K850i.
    Shoot modesNormal, BestPic, Panorama, Frames
    Scenes Auto, Twilight landscape, Twilight portrait, Landscape, Portrait, Beach/Snow, Sports, Document
    Picture size 5 MP (2592x1944), 3 MP (2048x1536), 1 MP (1280x960), VGA (640x480)
    Focus Auto, Macro, Infinite
    Light (Xenon) Off, Auto, Red eye reduction
    ISO setting 400, 200, 100, Auto
    Self-timer Off, On
    Effects Off, Black & white, Negative, Sepia, Solarize
    White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent
    Metering mode Normal, Spot
    Picture quality Normal, Fine
    Lens guard sounds Yes
    Turn on time and date Adds a timestamp to the picture
    Reset file number Yes
    Save to memory phone memory, memory card

    Video:
    Video size QVGA (320x240)
    Frame rate 30 fps
    Shoot modes For picture message, High quality video
    Focus Same with photo mode
    Light On, Auto
    Night mode Off, On
    Effects Same with photo mode
    White balance Same with photo mode
    Metering mode Same with photo mode
    Turn on/off microphone Yes
    Reset file number Same with photo mode
    Save to memory Same with photo

    The videocalls can use two available resolutions - QCIF (176x144) and SQCIF (128x96). The zoom as digital and has a 2x ratio (the main camera has a 3x zoom). The Night Mode and Brightness settings are supported. The White Balance has the only available option - Auto.
    Performance
    As usual, Java functionality sports a brilliant implementation in Sony Ericsson products and this one is clearly no exception. The K850i model supports 3D profiles, Java midlets can be sent over Bluetooth, the performance is pleasantly high.
    Model Sony Ericsson K850i Nokia N95Samsung G600LG KG920Sony Ericsson K790i/K800i/K810i
    Jbenchmark 1.1.1 Score 7538 5311 1136 265 7491
    Text 2684 1419 268 117 2333
    2D Shapes 1826 1303 282 121 1995
    3D Shapes 860 640 195 98 823
    Fill Rate 547 336 167 40 598
    Animation 1621 1613 224 120 1742
    Jbenchmark 2.0.1 Score 1096 568 92 40 638
    Image Manipulations 376 410 53 31 395
    Text 712 710 103 43 716
    Sprites 504 520 120 71 622
    3D Transform 813 817 86 17 37
    User Interface 14304 476 112 54 16108
    Jbenchmark 3D HQ 306 973 - - 177
    Jbenchmark 3D LQ 245 1018 - - 321
    Triangles ps 28916 48330 - - 34095
    KTexels ps 1422 6393 - - 1411
    Jbenchmark HD Gaming Score 97(3.2 fps) 91 (3.0 fps) - - 91 (3.0 fps)
    Textured triangles 19793 27310 - - 27310
    Fill rate, KTexels 1256 1107 - - 1107

    Battery Life
    The novelty gadget is powered by a BST-38 battery with a capacity of 930 mAh. The manufacturer claims 540 minutes of talk time and 400 hours of standby. Over the course of our tests the device was doing quite well, yet the other models won the race.
    Continuous duty cycle
    Model Sony Ericsson K850i Nokia N95Samsung G600LG KG920Sony Ericsson K790i/K800i/K810i
    Moderate duty 2-2.5 days 1 day 2 days 1 day 3 days
    Multimedia cycle, video (3GP) 4:22 2:03 3:49 n/a 6:06
    Multimedia cycle, audio (MP3) 16:53 6:56 :08 n/a 20:31

    Market Perspectives
    Many people expected the continuation of Cyber-Shot model line so Sophia will anyway receive a stable demand due to its forerunners' glory. But really the solution looks less interesting than the more high-tech Nokia N95, newly released Nokia N82, which costs only 50 euros above the price of the former (450 against 400) and more the more Samsung G600 (350 Euros). Near these models this nice product looses its few trumps. To our opinion the demand for this model will stay at an average level, this device probably won't become a bestseller in its class yielding this honourable place to the mentioned competitors.
    SMAPE's opinion
    Sony Ericsson K850i is rather a questionnable solution, concerning its declared price. It will surely be preferred only by the SE fans in the first place. The main point of the model, the camera, doesn't look outstanding in comparison with the competitors and other features aren't just as well as they could be. What is really attractive in SE K850i is inherently high camera quality, the expressive original design. And the SE innovative solutions in control elements, the overall implementation level of the rest of the features are causing doubts in the novelty's bright future. The motion sensor, the automatical screen rotation depending on the phone's physical alignment in space are interesting features but their practical usability looks doubtful to most consumers. This is a pleasant addition but nothing more. Among the other strong sides we'd check the rich communication possibilities - HSDPA, EDGE, 3 WCDMA and 4 GSM support, a nice, high-quality screen and the xenon flash, in principle, this is all we'd like to mention among the product's worthy aspects.
    The manufacturer is gradually refusing from issuing balanced solutions like K750i, which, in fact, served the company to win the technology leader status and attracted a big number of new loyal customers. During the development the camera phone product line the state of affairs strayed to the less optimisti side. K790i\K800i had worse ergonomics than its forerunner but the success was quite remarkable and the device possessed the best camera on the market (on its release date), and now there are already 5-MP phones in existence designed by Nokia and Samsung which can provide an excellent picture quality while the new Sony Ericsson photo flagship just started its market advancement and its ergonomics is very questionable in terms of making a strong challenger.
    It's a pity that an idea so neat suffers from a poor implementation. Ironically, the double-standard memory expansion slot is seen as a necessary element only by the developer company themselves. Nokia and Samsung have provided a more practical and user friendly solution to make storage expansion more widespread and popular - both N95 and G600 make use of the unified microSD standard. So the list of the new gadget's virtues (aside from the camera) is rather short - just the long battery life time and a powerful software platform (but only for a casual phone, the smartphones based off the S60 platform like Nokia N95 are much more functional). We'd advise Sony Ericsson revising the price policy on this model, otherwise the demand will keep on a level much lower than that for the more balanced N95 and G600 solutions by Nokia and Samsung.
    Originally posted at Smape


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