Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro: Loses 8MP camera, gets a keyboard – at Rs. 24,585 Review

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Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro: Loses 8MP camera, gets a keyboard – at Rs. 24,585 detailed review

Warning: Those of you, who read our earlier review of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz, will find this review of the Vivaz Pro utterly pointless. Because after struggling for two weeks, we ended up concluding that, for all practical purposes, the ‘pro’ version has added only the physical QWERTY to the original Vivaz and nothing else, no improvements whatsoever. And to make matters worse, the camera has been downgraded from 8.1 megapixels to 5 megapixels. Read on to find out more.

We particularly loved the original Vivaz for one thing: 720p continuous autofocus video recording ability in a slender, sexy body. It is still there in the Vivaz Pro. We particularly hated the original Vivaz for another thing: Symbian S60 5th edition, which has now been completely run over by the newer touch-oriented operating systems. Unfortunately, this too is still there.

The form factor is the same as the Vivaz, with Sony Ericsson’s Human Curvature design. The back panel is a hard plastic with a fine dull finish, which gives it an appearance of solidity. In fact, it is not until you remove the back panel that you realise that it is actually quite flimsy. The power button (that doubles as screen-lock toggle) rests in an odd position, on the upper half of the back panel.The three function buttons (select, call answer and call cancel) placed below the screen, and the volume controls on the side, are all thin but easy on the fingers and tactile. We also like the two dedicated buttons on the side, for Video and Photo mode. The screen is the same as Vivaz; 640 x 360 with high dpi of 229. The slider is spring-loaded and is somewhere between the snappy N97 mini and the manual Warning: Those of you, who read our earlier review of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz, will find this review of the Vivaz Pro utterly pointless. Because after struggling for two weeks, we ended up concluding that, for all practical purposes, the ‘pro’ version has added only the physical QWERTY to the original Vivaz and nothing else, no improvements whatsoever. And to make matters worse, the camera has been downgraded from 8.1 megapixels to 5 megapixels. Read on to find more. We particularly loved the original Vivaz for one thing: 720p continuous autofocus video recording ability in a slender, sexy body. It is still there in the Vivaz Pro We particularly hated the original Vivaz for another thing: Symbian S60 5th edition, which has now been completely run over by the newer touch-oriented operating systems. Unfortunately, this too is still there. The form factor is the same, with Sony Ericsson’s Human Curvature design. The back panel is a hard plastic with a fine dull finish, which gives it an appearance of solidarity. Infact, it is not until you remove the back panel that you realise that it is actually quite flimsy. The power button (that doubles as screen-lock toggle) rests in an odd position, on the upper half of the back panel.The three function buttons (select, call answer and call cancel) placed below the screen, and the volume controls on the side, are all thin but easy on the fingers and tactile. We also like the two dedicated buttons on the side, for Video and Photo mode. The screen is the same as Vivaz; 640 x 360 with high dpi of 229.. The slider is spring-loaded and is somewhere between the snappy N97 mini and the manual Motorola Milestone. We liked the slider of the Vivaz Pro. The 5 megapixel camera of the phone still manages to record 720p video. This thing needs a little clarification. Although the camera has been downscaled, it is still more than enough for the 720p video recording. 8 megapixels are not really needed for the 720p recording. As long as the camera has enough juice, it is the processing power of the phone that then determines what resolution videos can be recorded. And thus the Vivaz Pro has the same powerful 720 MHz Cortex A8 processor and PowerVR GPU. The touch of the phone is also the same, poor resistive with bad response. But the hardware QWERTY is the saving grace here, as it saves us from the torture that was on-screen typing on the Vivaz. We’d give the keyboard a lot of marks for looks, as each key has backlit borders that lend a splendid effect. But, ergonomic-wise, the keyboard just scrapes through. The keys are almost flat with little projection from the surface. Had the keys not been charitably spaced, typing on the phone would have been a nightmare. The phone runs of the ‘Symbian S60 5th Edition’ OS. We wholly detest this operating system. We don’t even need to get to the thing that this OS is missing because even a dissection of what this OS has will be enough for us to rip it apart. Here are some point-sources, little things about this out-of-date OS, that has reduced the hair density on our scalps: Poor interface – To open any menu, you have to click it, which highlights it. Then you click again to open it. Frustration guaranteed. No touch scrolling – Which other OS would ask you to scroll using a scroll-bar? Ancient ancient ancient. The scrolling is also quantised, that is, you can Locked or not – At times, we pick up the phone and touch the screen only to see no response, only to realise that the phone is locked. The phone shows no sign of being locked until you click one of the buttons. Even the lock button at the top is incapable of opening the lock, nor does it directly lock the screen. It just shows a menu through which, you can select the ‘Lock screen and keys’ or click the ‘lock’ button again. User-friendliness is nowhere to be seen here. Auto-rotate – With this powerful a CPU, we have a right to expect something like transitions or little animation. However, the interface is rather dull. For instance, the when the screen auto-rotates, it goes black before the transition happens. And the screen rotates to only two orientations. series No Apps – Nokia 5800 and the other touchscreen handsets by the Finnish manufacturer also feature the Symbian S60 5th edition, but what really saves the day for them is the inclusion of Ovi Store by Nokia. Vivaz and Vivaz Pro fall head first onto the ground as far as Apps are considered. And is PlayNow Sony Ericsson’s answer? An ‘Airtel Live’-like WAP portal that you can access only through GPRS to download cheap games and ‘filmi’ wallpapers. We wouldn’t spend a fraction of our 25,000 bucks for this joke. Seriously, for this much money, we’d rather buy a camcorder that records 720p video (would be cheaper in fact). Also, it will give a better video with a good sized sensor, and not fall prey to a poor LED in low light, like the Vivaz Pro does, with its paltry flash and tiny sensor. The pictures are lower in quality than those of the Vivaz, which had an 8-megapixel camera. We also saw more noise in the videos shot on Vivaz Pro, than those on the original Vivaz. The location of the camera lens, however, has changed, with it now not placed in the centre like, and going to the more conventional place on the upper half of back panel. But the lack of lens cover still makes it vulnerable. We suppose it is not a personal preference that we expect in-ear plugs with a phone this expensive. The in-ears are way more comfortable and even isolate ambient noises. We loved the ones that shipped with the Xperia Mini X10, which is priced at Rs. 15,000. The bundled earphones, besides being uncomfortable, the lows are poorly produced – stay away bass-lovers. The overall quality of the sound can be described in one word – cheap. The earphones are like every other aspect of this phone – not something you expect for a phone priced at Rs. 25,000. The video playback is top-notch because of the good resolution of the screen, and the generally good reproduction of colours. The social networking abilities of the phone are on par with most phones in this price category. Twitter has a widget on the homescreen, and Facebook app is inbuilt. You can easily upload photos to Facebook and Twitpic from the phone. Videos can also be uploaded to YouTube. The bundled WisePilot Navigation software is excellent, but it is a 30-day trial. We would have liked a full version, considering, again, the price of the phone. The synchronisation with PC is easy. The software is bundled on the phone itself. MediaGo application, for managing music and videos has the excellent feature, SensMe, that analyses music and rates it on a scale of happy to sad, and slow to fast. The battery life of the phone is average, with a 1200 mAh battery barely enough to last a day. Verdict: The phone would have been a winner, had it featured something like the Xperia UI. But with an outdated OS and a poor touchscreen, this phone is poor value for money. We wouldn’t spend this much amount for below-par 720p video recording, never. Motorola Milestone. We liked the slider of the Vivaz Pro. 

The finish of the backpanel, and the positioning of the lens has changed in the Vivaz Pro

The 5 megapixel camera of the phone still manages to record 720p video. This feature needs a little clarification though: while the camera has been downgraded, it is still more than enough for the 720p video recording, 8 megapixels are not really needed for the 720p recording. As long as the camera has enough juice, it is the processing power of the phone that then determines what resolution videos can be recorded. And thus the Vivaz Pro has the same powerful 720 MHz Cortex A8 processor and PowerVR GPU.

The touch of the phone is also the same, poor resistive with bad response. But the hardware QWERTY is the saving grace here, as it saves us from the torture that was on-screen typing on the Vivaz. We’d give the keyboard a lot of marks for looks, as each key has backlit borders that lend a splendid effect. But, ergonomic-wise, the keyboard just scrapes through. The keys are almost flat with little projection from the surface. Had the keys not been charitably spaced, typing on the phone would have been a nightmare.

Read on to find what we think is the main problem with the Vivaz Pro, the Symbian Operating system…….

 


The phone runs the ‘Symbian S60 5th Edition’ OS, which we find to be a dated and unappetizing operating system. Here are some points, little things about this out-of-date OS, that have reduced the hair density on our scalps:

  • Poor interface – To open any menu, you have to click it, which highlights it. Then you click again to open it. Frustration guaranteed.
  • No touch scrolling – Which other OS would ask you to scroll using a scroll-bar? Ancient ancient ancient. The scrolling is also quantised, that is, you can scroll only by discrete items, and not on every point in the list.
  • Locked or not – At times, we pick up the phone and touch the screen and see no response, only to realise that the phone is locked. The phone shows no sign of being locked until you click one of the buttons. Even the lock button at the top is incapable of opening the lock, nor does it directly lock the screen. It just shows a menu through which, you can select the ‘Lock screen and keys’ or click the ‘lock’ button again. User-friendliness is nowhere to be seen here.
  • Auto-rotate – With this powerful a CPU, we have a right to expect something like transitions or little animation. However, the interface is rather dull. For instance, the when the screen auto-rotates, it goes black before the transition happens. And the screen rotates to only two orientations.
  • No Apps – Nokia 5800 and the other touchscreen handsets by the Finnish manufacturer also feature the Symbian S60 5th edition, but what really saves the day for them is the inclusion of Ovi Store by Nokia. Vivaz and Vivaz Pro fall head first onto the ground as far as Apps are considered. And is PlayNow Sony Ericsson’s answer? An ‘Airtel Live’-like WAP portal that you can access only through GPRS to download cheap games and ‘filmi’ wallpapers. We wouldn’t spend a fraction of our 25,000 bucks for this joke.

Seriously, for this much money, we’d rather buy a camcorder that records 720p video (would be cheaper in fact). Also, it will give a better video with a good sized sensor, and not fall prey to a poor LED in low light, like the Vivaz Pro does, with its paltry flash and tiny sensor.

The pictures are lower in quality than those of the Vivaz, which had an 8-megapixel camera. We also saw more noise in the videos shot on Vivaz Pro, than those on the original Vivaz. The location of the camera lens, however, has changed, with it now not placed in the centre like, and going to the more conventional place on the upper half of back panel. But the lack of lens cover still makes it vulnerable.

We suppose it is not a personal preference that we expect in-ear plugs with a phone this expensive. The in-ears are way more comfortable and even isolate ambient noises. We loved the ones that shipped with the Xperia Mini X10, which is priced at Rs. 15,000. The bundled earphones, besides being uncomfortable, produce poor lows  – stay away bass-lovers. The overall quality of the sound can be described in one word – cheap. The earphones are like every other aspect of this phone – not something you expect for a phone priced at Rs. 25,000.

Read on to find more about the positives of the phone: the video recording, social networking and navigation. That and our verdict is next….

 

Verdict: The phone would have been a winner, had it featured something like the Xperia UI. But with an outdated OS and a poor touchscreen, even with its powerful video recording abilities and hardware, this phone is poor value for money.

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