Sony Ericsson Satio Preview

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Finally, we´ve got the Sony Ericsson Satio in our hands! Well, this is not a final, retail unit, but rather an early prototype. That is why we are coming up with a preview, without passing final judgment. Still, we are more than happy to take a peek at what we will officially have in Q4 this year and can´t wait to get down to the testing. Let´s just first fill you in on the background of the Sony Ericsson Satio though. Actually, Satio is the official name of the device that was, initially, announced as the Sony Ericsson Idou at MWC 2009. It´s advertised as the company´s first all-in-one multimedia cell phone and is to lend some color to their range. It is their first one in their lineup to feature 12-megapixel camera (with xenon flash) and run Symbian S60 (although, it was initially announced as a Symbian Foundation OS gadget). Other nice features include 3.5-inch, touch sensitive screen with 360x640 pixel resolution and delivers 16 mln. colors at cinematic 16:9 ratio, Wi-Fi functionality, built-in GPS etc. Cool, isn’t it? Can it pose a threat and be worthy adversary of the other all-in-one devices on the market?

Design:

Sporting a 3.5-inch resistive, touch sensitive screen means you can´t expect the Sony Ericsson Satio to be a small device, but its size is pretty OK with us, given the functionality it delivers. It´s interesting to notice that despite it looks rather bulky, the phone feels light in your hand and we hope this stays the same when the retail version comes out. Like the Samsung OMNIA HD and Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, there are only three buttons on the front side – send and end, along with a third one that´s located right between the latter and pressing it gets you to either the main menu or task manager. The light sensor that automatically controls screen brightness, video call camera, proximity sensor and LED indicator are aligned around the earpiece.




You can compare the Sony Ericsson Satio with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Both microSD card slot and standard, for the manufacturer, charger port (instead of microUSB) are on the left hand side, while camera shutter, mode switcher and gallery access buttons are clearly visible on the opposite side. Volume rocker is used to zoom in and out on things as well. Completely in character of Sony Ericsson, you really get the feeling as if operating digital camera while taking pictures with the phone upright in your hand. We would have liked to see a 3.5mm jack on the device, but again and in character of the brand, we will have to make do with a converter.



The upper back of the phone is slightly bulging, because the 12 megapixel, xenon flash camera is hidden under a sliding cover right there. Aside from the flash, there is LED light to help camera focus objects more easily. We need to point out the second you slide the cover open, both a small indicator right below the camera and the shutter itself start blinking in bright blue, which reminds us of the Cyber-shot lineup again. Naturally, we couldn’t help taking several pictures and you can see them under the camera and multimedia section of this preview. Before we get there, let´s first take a look at the interface that powers the Sony Ericsson Satio.

Sony Ericsson Satio 360 Degres View:




Interface and Software:

As we mentioned at the beginning, the Sony Ericsson Satio is the first device of the manufacturer to run Symbian S60 OS. Well, it is virtually the same as the one powering the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia N97 and Samsung OMNIA HD i8910. Similarly, the standard interface has been modified to more closely resemble other phones of the company..

Let´s get started with what you see when you power the phone. You will find yourself on the home screen, which has been personalized with a new theme. However, the standard ones for the operating system are here as well – Basic, Shortcuts bar in two varieties, with 4 and 6 icons respectively and Vertical Icon bar. We are not going to review these anyway, since they sport no changes whatsoever.

Let´s take a closer look at the Sony Ericsson´s personalization:

You have 5 tabs, at the upper part of the screen, that allow access to different functions. They can be switched between by sliding a finger or simply pressing them.

•    The first one allows you to visualize your favorite contacts in a vertical scroll list. Another list of options pops up when you select an entry that allows you to give the person a call, send them a message or edit the entry.

•    The next tab contains up to 8 of your favorite internet pages.

•    The middle tab is, by default, the home screen and pressing the end button gets you back there automatically. The interesting thing is that there is shortcut at the bottom of the screen that leads to the Sony Ericsson´s audio Flash menu. Even if you leave the audio player working in the background, you will still be able to see the song name and all necessary playback controls. There are four other shortcuts at the bottom that get you directly to the dialing menu, multimedia Flash Menu, messages or Phone search.




•    The fourth tab is gallery of pictures taken with the 12-megapixel camera of the Sony Ericsson Satio. They are all visualized in huge size on the large 3.5-inch display and can be scrolled by sliding your finger up or downwards. If you spot a picture you like, you can as easily as several clicks set it as wallpaper, send it in a message, share it on the Internet or see it in the fully functional Gallery app.

•    The last shortcut leads to a vertical menu where you can place up to 8 shortcuts to applications and functions of your own choosing.

As a whole, the rest of the interface is not different from what we have seen on other makes running the same operating system (you can take a look at our reviews of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and Samsung OMNIA HD i8910). The theme changes both icon color and design, but everything else remains pretty much the same. Selecting things in vertical menus is again implemented by double clicking on items.

You wouldn’t see anything new in either Organizer or Contacts. Messages are typed away just like on the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic – through handwriting recognition, small but fully fledged QWERTY keyboard that can be moved around on the screen, full QWERTY keyboard on the whole screen when in portrait mode or standard numeric keypad.



Internet browser is the standard one that comes along with the operating system – a Webkit based software that supports JAVA and Flash content. We have never had any problems using it on other devices, so we figure it is as good as ever.

Still, there is quite some time until the Sony Ericsson Satio is finally released, so it is not unlikely to see changes in its interface.




Camera:

The 12-megapixel camera of the Sony Ericsson Satio will not manage to wow you with its interface or options. Just like on the OMNIA HD, interface elements appear in black and white and lack enough colors and zing. It delivers shooting presets, several different modes like Panorama, BestPic, smile detection and touch-focus to help you pick an object to focus on (similarly to the HTC Touch Pro2). The camera flash comes with red eye removal mode and the built-in GPS provides geotagging if you switch the option on. Unlike the Samsung OMNIA HD i8910, you don´t have the opportunity to capture videos in HD and the maximum resolution is VGA (640x480). Now, here are the snapshots we promised you would see later. Just keep in mind the device is early prototype, so we are withholding our comments on their quality.

Sony Ericsson Satio sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution




Multimedia:

The audio player of the Sony Ericsson Satio reminds of the 2 year old W960, but still, we can see improvements have been made. As a whole, it is convenient to use, although settings like equalizer or sound effects are missing. The Satio sports an FM radio as well that kept freezing on us, so we could its rather simplified interface, but not the options it offers.

The video player interface looks quite nice with its large control keys. We couldn’t help the temptation and played several short videos… what we had in our hands was a 3.5-inch display after all. The prototype shows the final release should be able to play videos with quite good quality, delivering pleasing, saturated colors. Unfortunately, the phone is expected not to support DivX and Xvid content, but, you know, hope springs eternal…



Expectations:

The Sony Ericsson Satio is expected to hit the shelves at the beginning of Q4 this year. There is still a lot of time until then, meaning quite many rival makes will certainly come out by then. The 12-megapixel Samsung Pixon12 has been announced and it should become available at the end of June or the beginning of July, plus the multimedia monster OMNIA HD i8910 is on the market already. And not to mention officials with LG have already dropped some hints on a 12-megapixel cell phone being in the pipeline. It won´t really come as a surprise if other manufacturers take on the market with similar models by the time the Satio has made it to the market. This means that we are probably about to witness one hell of a fight. We can´t wait to take the front seats and see what happens.

Sony Ericsson Satio Video Preview



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