Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro smartphone
Impressive video recording isn't enough to offset a clunky Symbian touch operating system and questionable build quality.
- 720p HD video recording, stylish design
- Poor build quality, awkward keyboard, annoying physical buttons, drab Symbian UI, resistive touchscreen, left-mounted headphone jack
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro can record 720p HD video, but this phone is hampered by poor build quality, an awkward keyboard, a resistive touchscreen and the drab Symbian UI, which looks and feels ancient compared to the alternatives.
Sony Ericsson's second Vivaz phone retains the original's ability to record 720p HD video and stylish, curved design. The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro adds a slide-out, physical QWERTY keyboard, but the clunky Symbian touch operating system and questionable build quality mean most users should steer clear of this smartphone.
We were fans of the original Sony Ericsson Vivaz's design; smaller than the iPhone 3GS without sacrificing too much screen real estate, the original Vivaz possessed a curved back that made it a delight to hold. These positive elements all remain in the Vivaz Pro, but the addition of a slide-out QWERTY keyboard unfortunately comes at the cost of build quality. The Vivaz Pro's rear battery cover creaks and rattles when pressed, the slide mechanism feels cheap and clunky and the keyboard buttons are flat and awkward to press. Producing an excellent physical QWERTY keyboard isn't an easy task, but Sony Ericsson has failed miserably with the Vivaz Pro.
Adding to the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro's design woes are thin external volume controls that dig into your fingers when pressed; answer, end call and menu buttons below the display that are awkwardly positioned towards the bottom edge of the phone; and a plastic, odd-looking USB port cover that detracts from the phone's visual appeal.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro features the same 3.2in display as the original Vivaz. The screen is slightly smaller than the iPhone's, but it takes up virtually the entire front of the handset. The resistive rather than capacitive display is far less responsive than the screens on many competing handsets, including the Samsung HD Icon — a Symbian-powered smartphone that is also capable of recording 720p HD video.
Strangely, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro features a 5-megapixel camera, a slight downgrade from the Vivaz's 8.1-megapixel snapper. However the HD (720p) video recording capabilities remain, and the phone delivers similar quality photos and videos to the original. The Vivaz Pro boasts continuous autofocus during video recording and captures excellent detail. On the downside, video contrast could be improved and colours look slightly washed out. The single LED flash isn't good enough to snap still shots in dark conditions (its better suited as a video light) and the camera has no lens cover.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro smartphone runs the Symbian S60T OS. The user experience is virtually identical to the one offered by the original Vivaz. Five standby panels are accessible on the home screen by tapping the icons at the top or simply sliding your finger across the display. You can access your favourite contacts, a Twitter feed, an image gallery and a customisable shortcut menu. The bottom of the main home screen also has four icons to access dialler, multimedia, messages and search functions, and these shortcuts are conveniently hidden when sliding through the panels.
The Vivaz Pro's panels definitely enhance the drab Symbian interface, but they aren't anything amazing. The Twitter feed is very basic and simply directs you to the browser when you want to read more than the last few tweets, while the overall Symbian user experience once again lags behind competing interfaces. The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro isn't particularly fast or smooth, it has mediocre scrolling capabilities and its interface possesses annoying single- and double-click inconsistencies. There is also no dedicated Symbian app store, though our review unit came preloaded with handy YouTube and Facebook applications. When compared to the wealth of Android smartphones available, or even the excellent Samsung Wave, the Vivaz Pro looks very ordinary.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro is a decent multimedia smartphone, but the position of the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the left side of the handset is awkward. The Vivaz Pro only comes with 75MB of internal memory, and Sony Ericsson includes an 8GB microSD card in the sales package. The phone can accept microSDHC cards up to 32GB in size. Unlike Samsung's HD Icon, the Vivaz Pro can't play DivX or Xvid video files.
Other features include assisted GPS, Bluetooth with A2DP, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Battery life is rated at more than five hours talk time and 440 hours standby time; with regular use of the camera and multimedia features, along with an average day of calls and texting, the Vivaz Pro should demand a charge nightly.
Sony Ericsson environmental policies include a global TakeBack program, which aims to collect "1 million phones annually in our own system before the end of 2011". Phones collected through the program are "recycled in an environmentally sound way". The company encourages "the recycling and take back of our products, since components and materials can be reused and extracted for further use in other applications and thus reduce the environmental burden."
Sony Ericsson hasn't officially launched the Vivaz Pro in Australia, but the handset is available outright and unlocked through online mobile phone retailer MobiCity.
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