Sony Ericsson Vivaz Review
In order to be smart enough, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz relies on Symbian S60 5th Edition (also known as the Symbian^1) that also powers the Samsung OMNIA HD i8910, Sony Ericsson Satio, Nokia N97 (mini), etc.
The interface of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz is personalized in the same way as the version available with the software-updated 12-megapixel Satio – a Flash-based theme developed by Sony Ericsson divides the screen into five separate tabs. Each of them offers varied functionality and conveniences like favorite contacts, Twitter following, browsing of pictures and videos as well as several shortcuts to functions that you are allowed to customize.
All told, we cannot call the personalization grandiose. We would have liked to see changes in the interface of Symbian S60 that would have indicated the operating system was evolving. Still, we need to give credit where credit is due and admit that we like Sony Ericsson’s solution, because the interface looks nice indeed, sports cool visuals, happens to be handy to use and can certainly save you time. However, you are perfectly free not to use the theme in case you don’t like it and switch over to some of the simpler themes typical of Symbian^1.
The only major drawback in the particular case of Vivaz is none other but the lack of kinetic scrolling support, which brings us back to the time when the functionality was unavailable to owners of the Nokia N97. People did express their discontent at the lack of the feature and the manufacturer had no choice but to add it via software update. We do hope Sony Ericsson does the same and fixes the issue soon.
Phonebook, organizer and messaging:
There is no difference between the phonebook and organizer applications available with the Sony Ericsson Satio, Nokia N97 (mini), 5800 XpressMusic, 5530 XpressMusic and all other devices running Symbian S60 5Th Edition. The functionality of the programs is just as good as ever and some of their distinguishing features include convenient phone book searching based on the input method adopted in navigational systems, comfortable calendar event entry, handy browsing of calendar schedules etc.
Come to message composing, there are several text input methods that you can take advantage of and they are the same we know from the Satio – handwriting recognition, alphanumeric layout, compact full (can be moved around the screen) and landscape QWERTY keyboards. We are truly pleased at the latter, since it happens to be quite comfortable to type away with, despite the fact the display cannot be called huge. Its buttons are large enough and allow for fast and relatively error-free text entry.
The email client is the standard application that comes with the operating system itself. It supports multiple accounts, although switching between them is somewhat clumsy, because you must disconnect from the currently active one in order to log into another. Moreover, the application does not support HTML, which is a definite drawback these days. As we have already had the chance to say in our reviews of other cell phones based on Symbian S60 5th Edition, we would prefer the comfy Nokia Messaging any day (take a look at our review of the Nokia E75 to find out more).
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz comes with several pre-installed applications available via the Apps submenu.
• SMS Preview is a program that shows the last received message directly on the home screen and we have to say we like the concept and its practical implementation equally.
• YouTube – the program features a really likeable interface that is functional in landscape mode only, but it allows for easy navigation, sports beautiful visuals and well made player with handy buttons;
• Facebook application developed by Opentech ENG with enjoyable interface that is slightly heavy on the system. This is a minor issue though, given the program has a truly rich functionality – you can follow the status updates of your online buddies, preview your wall, pictures and messages, leave comments, see a list of your friends on the service, plus you have the option to give them a ring and send text and Facebook messages.
Said applications are both useful and handy to use, although Vivaz does not come with even a single game, while at the same time Nokia’s application store, Ovi Store, is only accessible via Nokia-made smartphones, meaning you will have to make do with what’s available at Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow service or find another software source.
We are disappointed at the crippled Office and PDF functionality of the handset. The Sony Ericsson Vivaz comes with pre-installed Quickoffice, but it’s not the full software version and you need to shell out $18.76 if you need support for Office 2007 documents. At least the fee includes unlocking the copy of Adore Reader that is otherwise just a 15-day trial version. Of course, the functionality emphasis in the particular case of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz is the device camera and multimedia features, but that doesn’t mean the office applications should be neglected… we are talking about a contemporary smartphone after all.
You can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi 802.11b/g or HSDPA 7.2Mbps and HSUPA 2.0Mbps. As a smartphone running Symbian^1, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz is equipped with the standard WebKit-based browser of the operating system itself. It does not offer any novelty features alongside of what other Symbian S60 5th Edition devices deliver. Navigation is both easy and comfortable and the application handles heavy and complex websites without a hitch, but still lacks Flash support.
As a whole, however, the browser looks ageing and has remained the same for quite some time now. That is why we would recommend you to get Opera Mobile 10, which is a proper alternative, because it offers modern interface with cool options like tabbed browsing, kinetic scrolling and fast loading of web pages thanks to Opera Turbo. The latter technology also helps you to slash on generated traffic, which may come in pretty handy for people who haven’t signed up for a proper data plan.
Out of the box, the Sony Ericsson Vivaz is equipped with two navigational programs that we know too well – Google Maps and Wisepilot that is actually a 30-day trial. Both applications have their own advantages and shortcomings, so it’s really hard to say which one is better, but we assume most people would opt for Google Map, since it’s completely free. In case you don’t really like either of them, Garmin Mobile XT is a truly capable (albeit paid) alternative option.
We are really pleased at the snappy GPS module that managed to pinpoint our exact location in less than 30 seconds on its first start. Well, the credit goes to the assisted GPS functionality of the module, of course, but with the busy daily routines of most people today, who would look down on the opportunity to save time and get things done faster? You will be able to see the bright dot designating your current location in less than 5 seconds after hot restart. It’s interesting to note that being next to a window inside a building does not affect the overall functionality of the device and you get pretty much the same timings. This is quite unusual of a cell phone, because the GPS modules of almost all handsets we have tested tend to get sluggish indoors.