Sony Ericsson Vivaz for AT&T Review
Seeing that this is the second domestic carrier offering to feature S60 5th Edition, the Nokia Nuron 5230 being the first, we find the experience to be more than satisfactory after checking out the lackluster performance on the Nuron. 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. Our European counterparts may find the platform experience blase since they've seen it before, but for the US market, it provides for a refreshing experience that will require some time adjustment – still, it proves to be more than desirable.
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.
Strangely, Facebook isn't entwined into the homescreen panel interface, but the dedicated app on the phone handles well versus other platform versions. However, we do like the fact that accessing Twitter can be done directly from the homescreen – plus it works rather well in accepting most of our needs. Sadly, there is no contacts synchronization with the Sony Ericsson Vivaz, which is something that can potentially be missed by some. Finally, AT&T throws in their AT&T Social Net app that's frequently found on their quick messaging phones.
Composing messages can be a task in itself due mostly to the small confines of the touchscreen and the slow pace needed in getting things to accurately register. We're presented to three input methods which will require some practice – the alphanumeric keyboard, handwriting recognition, and the full QWERTY keyboard. Naturally, the latter will offer the best experience – but only the landscape offering since you'll need to rely on the stylus in touching the tiny buttons with the portrait one.
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), but since this is a Sony Ericsson phone, users will have to put up with what's available.
Instant messaging can be accomplished using the app found on the phone – which supports AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger.
Of course, the phone does not include the Ovi Store – something which is alarming in itself. Instead, you're going to have to rely on AT&T's AppCenter to download additional items onto the phone. Although this might not pose too much of a problem for some new owners who aren't necessarily in touch with the Symbian platform, it might be a significant issue with users who want want to get the most of their phones.