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Monday, November 8, 2010

Review - Sony Ericsson's Vivaz HD Cell Phone

Sony Ericsson has been a favorite brand of mine when it comes to phones. I can remember my second cell phone at 14 was a Sony Ericsson, as I was attracted to it because of the fun design and look. I had the opportunity to review a Sony Ericsson's Vivaz, which is available via AT&T. I found both pros and cons, more on that below. From their Press Release,
"With Vivaz™, AT&T customers can capture spontaneous moments and memories instantly with two quick camera keys – video and photo, which lock focus on the action as soon as it starts. Pre-loaded links to YouTube™ and Picasa™ Web Albums make it easy to upload HD videos and high resolution photos for sharing with friends and even the world.

In addition to its superb imaging features, Vivaz is loaded with applications to keep customers connected to their world. Topping that list is AT&T Social Net, allowing customers to share exciting moments with friends– on Facebook®, MySpace™ and Twitter®– all through one simple application. Other highlights include Wi-Fi®, aGPS with AT&T Navigator®, Stereo Bluetooth® wireless technology, and Vlingo® voice recognition interface for searching the Web, composing"
Sony Ericsson's Vivaz cell phone is slim (4.2 x 2.0 x 0.5 inches) and at a mere 4.2 oz., lightweight. It is available in Cosmic Black, Moon Silver, Pink, Ruby Red and Galaxy Blue, the latter which is the color I received it in. The colors on its 360x640 pixel screen are very deep and livid. Vivaz comes complete with a 3.2” nHD 16 million color touchscreen. The phone has a 75MB integrated memory with an extension slot for a MicroSD card (up to 32GB supported). It runs on Symbian S60 OS, which looks quite dated and with its resistive touch screen, makes it difficult to use. Top pro, the phone has a dual-use charging cord that connects to the wall charger and can be used as a USB connection.

In comparison, I have an HTC 8525 smartphone, which is quite old, but its Windows 6 OS (operating system) and UI (user interface) is much more user-friendly. Considering my HTC was released back in 2006, the Sony Ericsson's Vivaz, which was released September 2010, should not be having complaints and negative reviews for UI and its OS.

The Vivaz features many great apps, including the one for YouTube which I enjoy a lot. However, the videos were somewhat choppy when streaming them on the phone.  The phone also has great features, including 5 homescreens (dedicated Twitter homepage, media viewing homepage, ect.), GPS, WIFI, Bluetooth and even the ability to listen to the Radio by connecting your headphones to the 3.5mm audio jack. It also features a full web browser that is very difficult to get use to. The text is tiny and the scroll bars are so thin you'd need the stylus to use is efficiently, which I think highly defeats the point of a touchscreen phone.

As noted before, my HTC 8525 has a 2mp camera and horrible choppy video recording. This is one point where my phone comes no where near the Sony Ericsson's Vivaz, and neither do many phones that have been released in the last couple of years. The Vivaz has an amazing 8.1mp camera and is one of the few phones on the market that record video in 720p HD.There are two dedicated buttons on the right side of the phone for "video" and "camera", which certainly comes in handy. Above are a couple of sample shots I took while reviewing the phone. Although it is 8.1mp, some photos seem out of sync. The color in bright sun, I noticed, make some details disappear on my pictures. The camera has a couple of shoot modes; normal mode, panorama (which is amazing), smile detector and touch capture.

I have taken plenty of videos and am just amazed at the quality. My family and friends were amazed at the quality as well, we shot videos in the dark, in daylight, and while only the videos shot in the dark were a tiny bit grainy, the others turned out great and when imported to my computer were crisp and the sound was actually very good for a cell phone. I hate to say it, but this phone shoots better videos than my Kodak 10mp Camera. It has continuous autofocus when recording videos.Another neat feature is that you can upload videos on youtube, straight from your phone. Below you will see a quick video sample I made to show some great qualities this HD video recording phone has, be sure to watch in 720p by selecting it below:
Overall, there is no doubt that the phone is attractive and has an amazing camera and HD recording capabilities, but it certainly lacks in some departments. UI is an important factor when I, or anyone I know, choose to buy a new phone. I don't like being frustrated using my phone trying to find simple tools like the calculator or even change my ringtone, and that is what I feel with the Vivaz's unfriendly UI. However, the camera and video recording capabilities are amazing, and its what it seems Sony Ericsson focused on while developing this phone. Hopefully Sony Ericsson will improve on these points and continue producing their amazing video/camera phones in the future. The Sony Ericsson is available at AT&T for $79.99 (see restriction(s) at ATT.com). A big thanks for the opportunity to review the Vivaz. :)

Disclaimer: I was NOT paid for this post, however I did receive the product in question, from the company or their representing  PR company,  free of charge in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own and I have provided a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation for my review nor was I under any obligation to give a positive review.

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