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Appeared on: Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Sony Ericsson K810i


1. Introduction

Sony Ericsson, a leading mobile manufacturer, recently updated its line of mobile phones with the addition of the K810i. The new model is more an improvement than an entirely new model. In this review, we will examine the new features and its performance from a users perspective...

- Sony Ericsson K810i

Sony announced the "new" K810i back in February 2007. According to the press release, the previous K800i series sold over 4.5 million pieces, making it one of the most successful mobile phones for Sony Ericsson. The K810i is not an entirely new platform/phone but rather an improvement in some elements, mostly external.

The K810i Cyber-shot phone is a sleek device, boasting a 3.2 megapixel camera, including auto focus and Xenon flash. Innovative new applications such as PhotoFix help to further improve the quality of your pictures, even after you have taken them. Illuminated Camera Icons to the side of the main keypad, which light up when in camera mode, allow the user to access camera menu options at the touch of a button.

”The K810i will appeal to those regularly using their mobile phone to capture quality shots while on the move. Its slender good looks belies its high specification; it’s not only a UMTS device for high-speed picture blogging, but also one of the most advanced camera phones available. When in camera mode, the Xenon flash with red eye reduction will help to achieve great picture results in low light conditions. Equally, the new Illuminated Camera Icons will allow the user to select advanced camera settings (such as picture size and self timer) by simply clicking on one of the hard keys; so there is no need to navigate into the full camera menu and risk missing that special shot.

If a photo needs some improvement after it has been taken due to poor light conditions and lack of contrast, then the new PhotoFix solution can optimise brightness and picture contrast at the touch of a button. Meanwhile, if a user is shooting a moving object (perhaps at a sporting event), then the BestPic feature will let them take nine photos in quick succession and they simply choose the best one.

Sharing your pictures is easily done with the K810i Cyber-shotTM phone thanks to a host of connectivity options. Picture blogging allows you to upload your shots to your own blog site, whilst BluetoothTM technology and USB 2.0 make it easy to share photos with friends or connect to your PC.

The K810i Cyber-shot phone is a UMTS 2100 (GSM 900/1800/1900) device available within Q2 2007. Both will be available in two stylish colours: Noble Blue and Golden Ivory.

K810i at a glance:

Imaging
- 3.2 Mega pixel camera with auto focus
- Cyber-shot
- Xenon flash with red eye reduction
- Picture Blogging
- Active lens cover
- BestPic
- Photo fix
- Illuminated Camera Icons
- Picture gallery
- Image stabilizer
- Video call camera

Music
- Music player and Video player
- TrackID(TM)
- PlayNow(TM)
- FM Radio with RDS

Connectivity
- Memory Stick Micro(TM) (M2[TM]) slot
- 128MB Memory Stick Micro(TM) in-box
- 64MB User Free Memory
- Bluetooth(TM) 2.0
- USB 2.0

Support Offers
- 17mm thin
- 2.0" QVGA 262K TFT display
- Full HTML browser
- RSS Reader
- Java MIDP 2.0
- Flight Mode
- Speakerphone
- FOTA (Firmware updates over-the-air)

In-box Contents
- 128MB Memory Stick Micro(TM) (M2[TM])
- USB cable DCU-65
- Stereo Portable Handsfree HPM-62
- PC Tool & Software
- Adobe Photoshop Album
- Wrist Strap

Availability and versions
K810i:

- UMTS 2100 & GPRS 900/1800/1900

K818:
- GPRS 900/1800/1900

- Talk time: Up to 10 hours (up to 2 hours 35 minutes for UMTS)
- Standby time: Up to 400 hours (GSM & UMTS)
- Video call (UMTS only): Up to 1 hour 30 minutes
- Available in selected markets from Q2 2007


2. The Retail Package

We bought our K810i at the retail price of €360. Prices may vary depending on your local region, VAT and shipping costs.

Let's open the retail box:

Opening even further...

Let's now see what's included in the retail package:

Time to examine the phone a little closer.

Compared with the "older" K750, the K810i is slightly bigger. It has dimensions of 106 x 48 x 17 mm:

The same connections are used on the K750 and K810i, meaning you can use the same battery chargers and other accessories.

The first time we installed the battery, we left the phone charging for a couple of hours. A full charge should be expected in 1.5~2 hours, very fast!

At night, the joystick and adjacent keys are backlit blue...


3. A closer look

After having checked what's in the retail box, we can now take a closer look at the phone. The first and most noticable difference, compared with K800i series, is the new keyboard buttons. Now they are smaller and round, and while for some this is awkward, we found the keyboard to be quite good. Of course, you need to have small fingers, otherwise it takes some getting used to pressing them. The best idea is to try the phone before you buy it. On the front, is a small camera which can be used for 3G video conferencing.

Unfortunately, Sony Ericsson didn't change the usual joystick in favor of a pad design. My K750 has many problems with dust that has collected after using the joystick for almost two years. I hoped that the new K810i may have gone for a different solution. Only time will tell if the joystick here will be any better than on the K750 series. The 2.0" QVGA 262K TFT display is very good, sharp colours and high detail.

There are four major buttons when using the phone, the return and cancel (c) buttons are very useful for obvious tasks. Since I was already a Sony Ericsson user, I didn't have any problem getting used to the buttons. However, compared with the K750, I found the new, round buttons rather small and hard to press. This is a matter of personal taste, but the larger K750 buttons feel better. The button on the top-right opens up the shortcut menu, where there are predefined actions, and of course you can set your own.

< p>On the left side, there are the MicroMemory stick slot and the play/pause buttons, while on the right side, the infrared port, the zoom in/out/volume up/down buttons. Lastly, the camera button is present, in a different colour making it easy to identify.

Lastly, on the back, we can see the 3.2Megapixel camera with Auto Focus and Xenon flash, which promises to eliminate red eye problems. The design of the camera's slide down cover is better than on the K800 series. Unfortunately, video recording is still at low resolution (176x122 QCIF), something that will not please camera fans.


4. Using the phone

After having unpacked all the contents, fully charged the battery, the time has come to try my new phone. First of all, the K810i feels very light and seems better constructed than the K750. The materials used for the external shell don't make any noises, like with the K750. The TFT screen used has 320x240 resolution and is really sharp with vivid colours. Under sunlight, it is visible, although we would like something even better. The menus are what a Sony Ericsson user might expect. No complaints there. I will not get into details, since this is not in the scope of this review. The phonebook catalogue is complete and moving up and down is really fast. I'm a satisfied customer so far.

They keyboard as I wrote earlier, takes some getting used to. The small rounded buttons offer a good feel, since you know exactly what you are pressing. With the K750, you could inadvertently press two buttons simultaneously. Of course, it takes time to get used to it, so try before buy!

The camera has an obvious advantage compared with the K750. I found the auto settings to be very good and the Xenon flash really does a good job. No red eyes, even under night conditions. The several modes that Sony Ericsson included will be useful if you want to get the absolute best picture. The sliding plastic cover seems solid, although I am worried it may fade over time. Maybe I should use a plastic protective case after all.

The BestPic mode, takes 9 different shots in quick succession, so you can select which is the best. The phone offers several (3Mpixels, 2Mpixels, 1Mpixel, VGA) resolutions, so you can choose depending on your available memory and personal taste.

The phone has good reception. What I didn't like, as with the K750, is that the speaker volume is very low. In order to hear the other person, you need to virtually put the phone inside your ear. I thought this was a problem of the K750, but with the K810i, things are much worse. Another negative is the external speaker, again the volume is lower compared with the K750. And there's no flashlight like there was on the K750, the eXenon flash cannot work like a normal flash light.

The battery is satisfactory. With normal use, I lasted 3-4 days before re-charging the phone. Of course, using the phone for MP3 playback or radio, will shorten battery duration, so its up to you to decide its use.

The Memory Stick Micro has an obvious disadvantage, my 4GB Memory Stick cannot fit! So you are stuck with using a maximum of 1GB Memory Stick Micro (M2) card that Sony offers and at a high price...


5. Conclusion

After having lived with Sony Ericsson K810i for almost one month, I have mixed feelings about the phone. Obviously, it is an improvement over my previous K750i. The screen is bigger and has better resolution. The camera is improved with 3.2 Megapixels, the keyboards is better, but I found the speakers low in volume. Of course, with a handsfree you will not have this problem, but then again, the K750i was better in this department.

The K810i is not a "new" phone, but rather an improvement on the well known K800i. The keyboard is different, there are some cosmetic changes also but nothing fancy. My guess is that if you are already a K800i user, I see no major reason why you should go for the K810i, apart from the fact that it is better looking. The upcoming K850i seems a more logical choice, although it has not hit the market yet and is due for release in Q4 of 2007.

In any case, I am a big fan of Sony Ericsson mobile phones. The latest K810i is without a doubt a successful model with some minor issues. I hope that with a new firmware upgrade most of them will be solved. At a retail price of €360, it is not a cheap phone. I see no major competition from Nokia phones, since with similar features you are looking at much higher prices than the K810i.



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