Sony Ericsson Vivaz

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz's only accomplishment isn't just managing to get huge Kareena Kapoor billboards plastered all across town. It is a pretty neat touchscreen smartphone that brings all the goodness of 720p video recording along with it. Let's see how it does.FeaturesThe Vivaz has its connectivity features well taken care of. It supports Wi-Fi, 3G and also allows GPS navigation. It utilizes a breezy 720MHz processor and comes with 75MB of internal storage. You can expand this to 16GB using a microSD card and the phone itself is supposed to come with an 8GB memory card. Unfortunately, our review model didn't.

The Vivaz's main feature is its 8.1MP camera (with LED flash) that is capable of shooting 720p videos. It has a 3.2-inch screen capable of displaying a resolution of 640x360 pixels and pumping out 16m colors. The Vivaz uses standard ports including a microUSB port and 3.5mm headphones jack.The Vivaz runs the Symbian S60 5th Edition UI, the same one that I came across on the [[xref:http://www.pcworld.in/product/review/samsung-i8910-omnia-hd|Samsung i8910 Omnia HD Review < High End Mobile Phones Review, Price, Features, Specs, User Opinions < PC World India Reviews< PCWorld.in]], the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, the Sony Ericsson Satio and more recently, the Nokia N97mini. Sony Ericsson has made a couple of changes to the standard version and the Vivaz's UI sports the same look and feel as the Satio. For e.g. , the Vivaz has five homescreens- a favorite contacts page, one dedicated to Twitter, the default homepage, one page on which you can browse through images in your gallery and finally one with shortcuts to apps you use most. The Vivaz comes with a couple of pre-installed apps including one that identifies music, one that lets you use your phone as a media server over a wireless network, RoadSync that uses your Exchange server to let you sync your calendar, contacts and tasks among others and finally Quickoffice and Adobe PDF Reader that let you access and view documents.Design & UsabilityThe billboards do not lie; the Vivaz is a good-looking phone. Right from its curved top and bottom edges, to its gently tapering back, the Vivaz oozes style. It uses almost no metal and the entire body is made up of plastic. As a result, the phone feels ultra light and sleek. Fortunately, the plastic body does not feel weak although it does attract plenty of fingerprints. The phone's 3.2-inch screen might be smaller than most phones in its category, but it is also one of the sharpest and good looking ones. Unfortunately, it does not maintain its visual appeal under direct sunlight.The phone's UI suffers from the same flaws that afflicted the other phones that use this OS. The inconsistency still remains where main menus require a single touch while deeper in you need to tap twice. Also, except when browsing through pictures or the Web, kinetic scrolling isn't present and you will need to use the slim scroll bar on the right. This is irritating as it does not allow you complete control over scrolling. The good part is that there is no sluggishness in the Vivaz's operation. Menus open and close briskly and applications execute without unnecessary lags. The touch screen is also responsive and accurate. The Vivaz also allows you access to both a virtual alpha-numeric keypad and a full QWERTY one. Typing is also quite accurate although there is no text prediction.Browsing, Multimedia etc.Browsing using the Vivaz's browser is a very good experience. It rendered pages nicely and a great thing is its support for Flash. The Touch UI with respect to the browser could have been better but it is nothing much to complain about. Now the main course: the Vivaz's 8.1MP camera shoots the best videos I have seen from a camera phone and the still images are excellent too. At full resolution, the videos have clarity and look natural. I compared the Vivaz's videos with the ones shot by the Samsung OmniaHD. The Samsung's videos looked more vibrant and with better contrast. However, they were also noisier and choppier. In comparison, the Vivaz's videos did look a little bereft of colors but the colors were also more natural and the frame-rates stayed stable. Also, the videos had minimal noise and displayed great clarity. As mentioned earlier, the camera reproduced good looking pictures too. Photos taken under sunlight were especially good and managed to catch the right amount of details without oversaturation of colors. Pictures shot indoors under florescent lighting appeared somewhat washed-out.Videos look great on the phone's display and I found it quite easy to transfer video files to the phone using Sony's MediaGo software. Audio playback was a tad disappointing although the quality was generally good. This was mainly because the volume levels were low and that affected both the external speaker and the bundled headphones.The phone's call quality is also surprisingly poor and voices over the line weren't sharp and there was also plenty of static and echoes. Also, although the phone's quoted battery life is 13 hours (talktime), in our tests it didn't last longer than 7.5 hours and it also took an inordinate amount of time to charge over USB.

Bottom Line

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz's forte is its superb camera and that certainly doesn't disappoint. Add to that its great looks, good screen and fluid UI and what we have in the Vivaz is a right step towards the perfect mobile multimedia experience.

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Nikhil Pradhan

PC World India
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