Sony Ericsson K850 Preview

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the Sony Ericsson K850 moves the Cyber-shot line to the next level thanks to both hardware and software changes. The hardware innovations are described above, while the software ones will follow. As a whole, the interface is similar to the ones before, but is upgraded, tweaked in some of its parts. In this aspect it reminds of the W910, which also runs the same generation of software. We won’t do in-depth explanations in this preview, and will show you only the new and interesting things.

This is the first Cyber-shot phone with support for Flash Themes. In the past, only Walkmans did, but with newer models we see that Sony Ericsson has integrated this feature also into the “S” (S500) and “T” (T650) series, and now into the “K”. The flash themes can change the icons in the main menu and as we’ve seen in previous models, can even use other layout for it, for example a horizontal list with large visualization. They definitely look much better than the ordinary ones.

When you start dialing a number directly from the standby screen, you will find one of the tweaks coming with the new firmware. The phone will search the phonebook and the calling history for matching results (both about numbers and names) just as it is with any WM6 or BlackBerry device. The convenient thing is that it searches the names as if you type them with predictive input system. For instance, if you want to dial “Neo”, you have to dial 636 (6-MNO, 3-DEF, 6-MNO) and almost immediately the phone will show you all matching names. Unfortunately, like in the contacts menu, the phone won’t search through the second word (most of the time this is the last name) of a name.

This is just ridiculous and people spending so much money on a phone don’t only require camera with large resolution, but also decent phone functionality. Any phone nowadays should be able to find the names by the second word.

The Messaging menu hasn't changed much. There is option for categorizing the different messages and a manager will allow you to move them either on the internal memory or the card.

Sony Ericsson K850 is one of the first phones of the brand that supports global 3G roaming, thanks to tri-band HSDPA supports. This allows for high-speed of internet in GSM networks all around the globe.

Like other recent models of the manufacturer, it features full HTML browser that can load standard pages, as on a computer. Although there are minor mistakes in the visualisation, the phonearena.com homepage loaded correctly.



The Sony Ericsson K850 is a dedicated cameraphone with 5-megapixel auto-focus lens, Xenon flash and additional tri-LED for assistance of the auto-focus system. The K850 will enter into the 5-megapixel market as one of the most advanced cameraphones, and the only thing that seems to be missing is the optical zoom. In order to bring more and more features, the camera interface of the Cyber-Shot is an upgraded version of the one on the previous models of the line, the K800/K810 phones.

Still, the changes are not major and you won’t be surprised by the rather familiar landscape interface, you would expect to see in a Cyber-shot device. As before, the left software key opens the options menu, where you can set the various options including the mode (normal, “Best Pic”, panorama, frames), scenes, resolution, and other settings like night mode, self timer, white balance, and even ISO. Unlike Nokia N95, where it is displayed as “low-high” levels, here it is with real options as on a regular camera – Auto, 100, 200, 400. Additional settings which you will change rarely are packed into an “edit” submenu.



The redesign includes small icons next to every option and the Scenes menu even has color pictures for visualizing their idea. If you are a novice user, this is the easiest way to understand the meaning of the regime while those who know the idea will find this feature of no use but giving modern and more advanced look of the menus.

We are happy with the fast reactions of the K850, which is an important thing for such hi-end cameraphone. Even in average indoor light, the auto-focus locks for 3 seconds while in bright outdoor light it needs just one second. Taking and saving a picture with the best possible quality takes 5 seconds. As a whole, the camera acts very rapidly, faster than the “smart” N95.



As we’ve said, this is not a final version of the phone, so we will not post comments on the quality of the camera. For those of you who are curious, we will post a few samples but keep in mind – the commercially available units will most probably be different! To prove this, we noticed a glitch where most of the time the K850 showed it locked focus, where it actually didn’t. We of course expect all such problems to be cleared before the official launch!

We've compared the K850 with Nokia N95 and Samsung SGH-G600 to see how it rates next to other 5-megapixel phones. Check our comparison by clicking here.

The video camcorder of the K850 now records in QVGA resolution at 30fps, which is definitely an improvement when compared to earlier models of the brand, but is nothing spectacular when put next to the N95 with its VGA, which is 4 times more. Still, the QVGA (320x240) must be enough for online usage.

The new generation software brings improved multimedia menu. We first met this one in the W910, but it is also available in the Cyber-shot K850. This media menu houses Photo, Music and Video options and has flash interface, which is different than the other submenus but changes (its background) with the change of themes. The W910 also had a “TV” menu which seems to be for the Walkman phones only.

In the Photo menu you will find the latest photos on the phone, camera album sorting the captured pictures by months. You preview their thumbnails in flash interface and can start a slide show with music, choosing from Silent, Sad, Romantic, Happy, Energy moods. The feature is called x-Pict Story. You can put tags to the photos, like Favorites for example, so they will be more organized. You can add Tags, choosing a name and a small icon.

In the Music menu, you can sort the tracks by Artist, Albums, Tracks (list of all), Playlists, Podcats. This is very similar to the Walkman 3.0 player on the W910 but lacks some filtering options (SenseMe, Year, Audio Books). You can create and edit playlist directly on the phone, and you have two by default. The interface during a playback is exactly the same as on the W910’s Walkman 3 and will display small album art cover and information on the song, artist and album.



Like the W910, the K850 has a sensor for controlling the orientation of the display – depending on the way you hold the phone, the interface will turn from portrait to landscape and vice verse. This is a cool feature, reminding us of the Apple iPhone. The sensor works only in the options of the “Multimedia menu” and can be turned off.

The phone also has built-in FM stereo radio. You should use the headphones as an antenna. The radio supports RDS, so text information from the stations will be streamed. TrackID is supported here and in as an option in the Entertainment menu, so if you want to get information on the song currently playing, just start this feature and it will sample the music, connect to a server (online) and give you information on the artist and track name. As in our previous test, the current ones showed excellent accuracy of the program.

Conclusion:

We may not really give a real opinion on the device, without testing the phone functionality, as this is not final. If we ignore it, we like what we see of the new K850 and are optimistic about its success when it appears on the market.

Expect our full review when final, commercial samples are released.

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K850
  • Display 2.2" 240 x 320 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP
  • Storage 0.04 GB
  • Battery 930 mAh(3.50h 3G talk time)

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