Monday, 30 January 2012

Re: Sony Xperia X10 Hands On & First Impressions Does the Xperia X10 Herald a New Era of SE Handsets? Is the X10 Really Worth All The Hype?

X_ta wrote:
> If you have even the slightest interest in phones it s a pretty safe
> bet that you re already acutely aware of the up and coming Sony Xperia
> X10 " after all, its received more than its fair share of attention
> and hype (not least from ourselves). You ll understand then, on
> getting an invite to experience a full hands on with the X10, we were
> keenly aware that the X10 would either live up to our (exceedingly
> high) expectations or it would leave us disappointed, under whelmed
> and feeling that Sony Ericsson had simply failed to deliver the goods.
> In actual fact, however, having now experienced the Xperia X10
> personally I can report that it actually did neither.
> A Little Background: Let's Set The Tone
> Admittedly, at this juncture you re probably assuming that this is bad
> news. And it is, for me at least, as the Xperia X10 has put me in a
> rather uncomfortable position.
> Let me explain (I need to, or you really won t understand the gravity
> of the situation).
> Let s look back at my review of the Sony Ericsson Satio. If you re
> familiar with that review (or any of my past reviews for that matter)
> you ll know that I pride myself on not pulling any punches. If I think
> something s lacking I genuinely feel that I m fully obligated to
> convey that to you and, no, you won t find me making any apologies
> whatsoever for taking such aย hard-lineย stance.
> What if, however, I m genuinely blown away by something. What then?
> Perhaps the more cynical of you will think I m being paid to be
> gushing. Perhaps you ll come to the (wholly untrue) conclusion that I
> m merely serving my own interests? If you are entertaining such
> thoughts " and regular readers who are already acquainted with my
> reviews will know that this isn t the case – let me act to
> dispel them now so we can move swiftly on.
> I have covered Sony Ericsson products prior to now, and I d
> particularly like to draw your attention to my full review of the
> Satio where I offered up a number of criticisms that where far from
> serving any such �best interests . In fact, following said review one
> could have understood Sony Ericsson from consequently giving me a
> particularly wide birth (other companies have when I ve given frank
> reviews " no names).
> Sony Ericsson, however, to their credit, took another stance as not
> only did they invite me to gain hands on experience of their new breed
> of Symbian and Android based handsets " knowing that I d pull no
> punches in reporting back to you " they actually offered me to gain
> serious hands on time with their new handsets, including the Xperia
> X10, right under their noses. It s hard not to respect that. They were
> taking a gamble.
> The question is, did their gamble pay off?
> By the end of this text you ll have your answer, of course (and I ll
> leave you in no doubt as to whether this gamble has worked for or
> against them) but, in actuality, one thing that immediately struck me
> when I gained hands on time with their Xperia X10 is that, all said
> and done, Sony Ericsson s gamble probably wasn t quite the degree of
> gamble that I d initially assumed it to be. Sony Ericsson have, after
> all, not been backward in coming forward about the virtues of their up
> and coming X10 Android smartphone and, as I took the X10 in han
> d, I couldn t help but wonder why it was that SE felt that the X10 was
> going to dispel any concerns I had about it possibly proving unable to
> live up to the hype.
> Now, however, I understand.
> I understand because, having gained first hand experience of the X10
> its clear to me that Sony Ericsson s confidence in the X10 is far from
> misplaced. The X10 is not only a seriously impressive handset that s
> genuinely worthy of the hype, it also clearly marks the dawning of a
> new age for Sony Ericsson following what its fair to term as a
> somewhat of a slump.
> No, that s not entirely correct, as the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 is
> more than that. It s a sheer masterstroke of design that has patently
> been born of SE waking up and smelling the coffee (yes, I m telling it
> like it is). It s an ace card that they re just about to throw onto
> the table and the other players here need to realise that now. Nokia,
> Samsung, Motorola, and, yes, HTC and Apple, we know you re listening
> and with that in mind we feel we have to advise you that the X10 is
> something to start getting very nervous about indeed (if you aren t
> already " not that I d expect anyone to admit it).
> Xperia X10 Marks A �New Way of Thinking
>> From the outset when I turned up at the Sony Ericsson MWC UK press
>> event SE were refreshingly open with me that their new breed of
>> handsets (namely the Vivaz, Vivaz Pro, Xperia X10, X10 Mini and X10
>> Mini Pro " but let s stick with the Xperia X10 for now) have come
>> about after what appears to be some soul searching on their part.
>> Changes have been made, I was told (I took that to mean that " and
>> this is purely my interpretation " some difficult decisions had been
>> made following a pretty expensive shake down and that, perhaps, even
>> heads had rolled). Either ways, it was clear to me that I was dealing
>> with a newly revitalised SE who have been reborn following having
>> taken a good hard look at themselves and having come to the
>> conclusion that, ultimately, they needed to raise their game.
>> Moreover, talk of their �new way of thinking clearly isn t bravado.
>> They mean it. And, what s more, they mean business.
> These new handsets, as previously named, are the result of this �new
> way of thinking and, of them all, the Xperia X10 (the focus of this
> text) is clearly spearheading this new charge. Its right there at the
> front, its leading by example and, I ll be bunt about this, if I were
> the likes of Nokia, Samsung, et al, I d start taking notice as the X10
> is seriously tooled up and its not going to be taking any prisoners.
> Brace yourselves. Sony Ericsson have just become exciting again and
> there are going to be casualties.
> The Xperia X10: Style, Substance Horsepower
> So, with the extended preamble now over, let s cut to the case (that
> said, I ve given away what I think of the X10 already, haven t I) by
> covering my hands on with a handset that is undoubtedly set to rock
> more than a few worlds.
> Firstly, its appearance. The Xperia X10 positively oozes class from
> first sight with the main draw, apart from its sleek design, being the
> device s generously sized display. Packing in a resolution of 480 x
> 854 pixels the (scratch resistant) super widescreen display really
> makes its mark, even before the device is powered up. There s some
> considerable real estate here and, as a consequence, the Xperia X10 is
> pro
> portioned accordingly. Its larger than many phones, certainly, yet it
> manages to circumvent coming across was being unduly bulky. It my
> hands at least, it was comfortable to hold and weighted well. Getting
> the weight of a headset right is often overlooked in terms of how a
> user experiences it as a physical object but the X10 struck a perfect
> balance in this respect in feeling neither too light nor to heavy. The
> last thing you need from a handset is to have to take up weight
> training in order to hold it for extended periods but, conversely, you
> also don t want a phone to feel so light that it seems overly
> delicate. The X10 feels right and it also feels reassuring sturdy.
> Moreover, due to its proportions (the X10 comes in at 119 x 63 x 13
> mm) its comfortable to hold whilst in both portrait and landscape
> orientations without ever feeling cumbersome.
> Of course, for those that want a more compact phone, thus forgoing the
> generous display real estate on offer with the Xperia X10, its not
> like you re not going to be catered for as you ll have the X10 Mini
> and X10 Mini Pro proving more than happy to serve your needs (see
> below image – the mini really is so compact we had to do a
> double-take). For me at least, the display stuck me as being
> beautifully sized and if you re looking to watch videos and run
> through photos on a handset the X10 is going to prove hard to ignore
> for this reason alone. Its clear, from just looking at the display s
> size, that the X10 is geared towards serving as an entertainment
> device and once the phone is powered up this is further underpinned
> thanks to the screen offering vibrant color saturation and, as alluded
> to above, an impressive pixel count.
> Of course, the Xperia X10 s display additionally offers touchscreen
> functionality and, thankfully, its of the capacitive variety as
> opposed to resistive so the responsiveness issues I experienced with
> the Satio are not repeated here. Indeed, the X10 s display proved to
> be highly responsive to my every touch and (again, unlike with the
> Satio) I didn t find myself having to resort to more force that I
> would otherwise have liked in order to have my inputs registered.
> This is great news as the Xperia X10 doesn t come with a physical
> QWERTY keyboard, instead relying on a screen based text input. My time
> with the X10 however confirmed that entering text using the device s
> touchscreen was not an unduly frustrating task " indeed entering text
> on the X10 felt wholly intuitive and a decidedly fluid affair.
> And �fluid is a word that can be all too readily associated with the
> Xperia X10 as this is by no means an underpowered handset. Quite the
> contrary, as, under the hood, the X10 boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon
> QSD8250 processor running at 1GHz and throughout my hands on with the
> device I witnessed no evidence of slowdowns regardless of me trying
> the catch the device out. The menu systems boast fluid (there s that
> word again) animations and I found that this added greatly to the
> overall appeal of the device. In fact, and serving as testament to the
> power being exercised under the hood here, I did get the feeling that
> the Snapdragon had plenty enough going spare in terms of clout
> regardless of whatever I threw at it (running through menu systems
> unnecessarily quickly, and so forth).
> If you re worried that the Xperia X10 may look great, offer swish and
> beautifully realised (but not crassly overstated) UI animations but,
> ultimately, prove to be underpowered rest assured my experience of it
> proved that any such concerns are wholly unwarranted " the X10 runs
> like a sports car (no, let me correct that – the X10 runs like a
> Snapdragon). And, whilst I m covering this side of things, you just
> need to see SE s Timescape and (especially) Mediascape features in
> operation to
> truly understand the true horsepower the X10 has at its disposal (but
> more on those features later).
> Back to the screen. I ve already indicated that its clear SE have
> worked hard to design and build the Xperia X10 with its use as an
> entertainment device squarely in mind and, whilst the X10, on account
> of its generously proportioned high pixel count and vibrant display,
> will serve to especially well in this regard (watching film clips, for
> example, really underpins why the screen size and aspect ratio are key
> attributes) there are other bonuses that are worth more than just a
> cursory mention.
> The first is that the X10 s menu systems appear wholly uncluttered,
> even when there s a great deal of information on the screen. There s
> space to breathe and, as a result, the X10 never overwhelms even when
> conveying the true scope of exactly what s on offer here in terms of
> over all package and functionality. Again, when it comes to Timescape
> and Mediascape the level of information the X10 can get across without
> seeming overly busy (from a visual perspective) is impressive " I keep
> teasing you concerning Timescape and Mediascape but not unduly so, as
> you ll see later.
> Additionally, as the X10 also boasts impressive imaging credentials
> (both in terms of still image and video capture) the screen once again
> impresses with the extra real estate the X10 s display boasts proving
> decidedly helpful. The X10 can, and would, serve you well as a
> competent substitute for a dedicated point and shoot camera; you re
> looking at 8.1 megapixel resolution paired with LED flash and features
> such as Touch focus, image stabilization, geo-tagging capabilities
> – courtesy of the X10 s onboard GPS – and, of course, the
> obligatory face and smile detection. Where the X10 comes into its own
> is its ability to give all that display real estate over to displaying
> your imagery. Dedicated compact point and shoot cameras (indeed,
> DSLRs) simply cannot and don't offer you screens that even vaguely
> compare.
> If you re looking for a camera phone that ll do your exposures
> justice, the X10 will (as it does generally across the board) deliver.
> Or, in other words, if you re crying out for the convenience of a
> camera with sound video capabilities that excels as a portable digital
> photo album look no further – though don t be surprised if your
> audience s expressions of interest are more to do with them being
> genuinely impressed with the phone rather than your snaps or video clips.
> Oh, and lest I forget, in terms of the X10 s capabilities as an
> entertainment device I should also state that its good to see that the
> X10 comes with integrated 3.5mm headphone socket. No bespoke connector
> required here (unlike with, for example, the Satio) which shows that
> SE have listened to user feedback. If you want to run with your own
> headphones when using the X10 s multimedia capabilities its as easy as
> simply plugging your headphones in (or, in other words, its as easy as
> it should always have been).
> Xperia X10 s Timescape Mediascape Signature Applications
> Obviously, in terms of the above, whist I did gain good hands on time
> with the X10 I didn t, due to the nature of the event, manage to sit
> down with the X10 for hours on end testing everything that s on offer
> here (hence this being a text concerning my hands on time rather than
> being a full blown review " which you can, incidentally, expect from
> us later should SE indeed pass a review unit our way). I also didn t
> manage to get anywhere near as many pictures of the X10 as I would
> have liked, primarily as I was too busy using it (and enjoying doing
> so) to keep firing off snaps and when
> it comes to SE s Timescape and Mediascape features I really ought to
> have captured both in action on video but, again, they impressed me so
> much that it actually didn t even occur to me to film both in action
> (lesson learned there).
> Thankfully, then, SE have this covered so you ll excuse me for falling
> back on using one of their videos showing the above features " or
> �signature applications as SE refers to them – in action and,
> what s interesting here is that, in practice, these features as just
> as impressive as they appear to be in the video below.
> The key here is the bringing together of a host of information in an
> exceedingly intuitive manner that seamlessly integrates both offline
> and online content to the extent that it all pulls together as a
> decidedly cohesive, easy to navigate system that, in use, appears
> deceptively simple. In terms of usability, considering the numerous
> online and offline sources and content types both Mediascape and
> Timescape are acting to pull together, both features ran both smoothly
> and without any noticeable lag. I would, considering both are pulling
> over so much online content (along with locally stored
> information/media), have expected to have been acutely aware of what
> was being served from the phones internal storage and what was being
> pulled across from online portals. In reality, however, it was
> alarmingly cohesive and well realised " and both systems presented a
> veritable wealth of information whilst gelling everything together
> beautifully.
> Take Mediascape for example. If, say, you go in looking for images of
> a friend the system will not only pull across images stored locally
> but it ll also pull over any relevant images such as Picassa and
> Flickr, all of which is duly pulled together in what I can only
> describe as something akin to a stream of consciousness. It s all
> there for you, and its there in pretty much a blink of an eye.
> But its not just imagery. You can factor in video content and audio
> content too and if, say, you go looking for something that the system
> can find yet more information on, you ll get it in the presented
> stream (yes, YouTube is covered). Looking for something else? Say
> information concerning your favourite band? No problem, the system
> will come back at you with a wealth of sourced material, again
> presented in a highly intuitive, easily accessible manner, along with
> any relevant tracks you may have stored on the phone.
> Timescape works in the same fashion, but this brings together all your
> social contacts as well as instant messages, mails, SMS and
> notifications that are relevant to you. As an example, say I wanted to
> check just whats going on with a friend, the Timescape application
> would offer me the full lowdown. I tweeted said friend the other day,
> mailed him a couple of times in the week, he left a few notifications
> for me on Facebook and we ll throw in a few SMS exchanges for good
> measure. Its all there in one �timeline . Forget having to logon to
> Twitter, checking your SMS inbox, switching across to your mailbox and
> then having to go across to, say, Facebook to get the full picture "
> Timescape does it all for you.
> If you have ever felt overwhelmed by the numerous avenues for
> communication you have available to you in our digital world, thus
> finding it all to easy to loose track, Timescape will prove nothing
> short of a revelation " and, of course, it s a great time-saver to.
> Now there are those who prefer compartmentalisation, for want of a
> better word, but you can still have that. The
> option, however, of firing up the Timescape app when you just need to
> get abreast of things quickly and don t want to spend a while faffing
> about, logging in one place, navigating to the next social networking
> portal, searching for the entries you require, remembering that you
> said X to Y in an SMS on Monday whilst you said Z to Y by mail last
> Thursday and perhaps a mixture of the two by SMS only last Tuesday
> (then on Wednesday you changed you mind and popped them a Facebook
> notification) well you get the picture.
> Mediascape and Timescape put you firmly back into the driving seat
> when it comes to the wealth of media, information and communication
> that you use in your day to day life and, in case you hadn t gathered,
> both impressed me no end.
> These signature applications are seen by Sony Ericsson as major
> selling points concerning the Xperia X10 and, having toyed with both
> myself, I don t believe that their confidence it them is at all
> misplaced. These are selling points and I trust that SE will spend
> some considerable time, and money, in getting this message across in a
> wholly unambiguous fashion as these apps alone will undoubtedly see
> many opting for the X10 on and over competitors handsets.
> Xperia X10 Hands On: Closing Thoughts
> So, there you have it and I ll admit, having just re-read the above
> myself, this reads as if I think that the Xperia X10 is a masterstroke
> of handset design. Ultimately, however, this is exactly what I think
> and I see no justifiable reason as to why I should pretend otherwise.
> Had the X10 have left me feeling cold, I would have told you. But it
> didn t. What it did do is serve to reaffirm that, as mentioned above,
> Sony Ericsson have woken up, smelt the coffee and have obviously
> decided its time to reaffirm themselves in the handset market. And the
> X10 will indeed do just that, and it ll do it with aplomb.
> The Xperia X10 is a revelation. It not only looks great, but it runs
> like a dream and the thought SE have put into this handset " its
> design, its features, its usability – positively shines through.
> The X10 is sheer brilliance, pure and simple.
> Or, if you really want me to put myself on the line here, I ll put it
> another way. Alex (our Sub) asked me, on my return from the SE press
> event, whether I d actually consider replacing my beloved iPhone 3GS
> with an X10 and I could only offer him a single word answer.
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