|18 Nov 2006
The Sony Ericsson Z710i comes in two colors – Twilight Black and Metallic Sand. Both of them look nice, the pale color makes the handset look smaller. The handset's size is 88 x 48 x 24.5 mm, weights 101 grams.
The handset's look is created by its external display. The diagonal being 1.5 inches or 26 x 26 mm. From practical point of view monochrome screens perform better than colors ones especially when in sun. The screen has a 128 x 128 pixels resolution; it is a monochrome display with blue backlighting (inversion type, 4 gradations). Obviously, PhotoCall function is not possible, the number and the name of caller is displayed when incoming call is ringing. The screen is excellent; you can even call it a TV in joke. When the handset is closed you can see status information and notes taken from the calendar for current day. When working with the player or the radio all information about the song is displayed here on the screen. Thus font size makes using of this device utterly interesting.
There is a 2 MPx camera on the front, it is encircled by a metal ring. The camera is accomplished according to CMOS-technology; it doesn't have auto-focus capability that makes this device alike Sony Ericsson K610i.
There is camera shortcut button at the left side of the phone, when the phone is closed it doesn't work. Right here there is a volume rocker key. Just below you see ̀ 2 label, but it is not the memory card slot by any means. The card itself is located under the battery cover, hot swap won't be available here in full sense of the word. Of course, it won't be any trouble to change the card when the phone is working, but in any case you will have to remove the back cover.
Interface connector is standard here – Fast Port – it is located in the bottom edge. In the upper end you can see loop-antenna, you can pass through a carrying sling here. There is IR-port at the right, and just here a key lock switch (utterly useful thing when training).
The device is easy to open with one hand only. The internal display has a diagonal of 1.9 inches, 176 x 220 pixels resolution (31 x 38 mm). It displays up to 262000 colors and has TFT-matrix. Screen quality is Ok, it's comparable to Sony Ericsson K750i, but evidently weaker to current top models of the company for example, Sony Ericsson K790i. At the same time this screen is rather typical for such class of the devices, there are no special peculiarities. The screen performs normally when under the sun.
The keypad is made of plastic, numeric keys are of average size and are well demarcated. Keys highlighting is of a blue color, it is not too bright and is well seen in intense darkness. Navigation button is four-positioned, and is made of metal where ÎÊ button is incorporated. On the whole the buttons are convenient; they don't provoke any disagreeable feelings.
The back cover has a latch which helps to avoid gaps, there are not any. You can find a 900 mAh Li-Pol battery BST-37 inside. According to the manufacture's report the device lasts for 350 hours in standby mode and up to10 in talk mode. Heavy load means that you will have to re-charge the phone daily. At the same time few talks mean that the phone can work up to three days, but it is rather unlikely.
The handset completes with a standard stereo-headset, as the device has no aim to be a music phone. As a set with W710i features a special headset and an armband. No one denies using the device plugging in music-centric earphones, but in such case you will have to pay some extra 50 USD (price for HPM-70).
Standard applications and UI
The interface of the device is familiar by Sony Ericsson devices; the main menu is represented as a grid of 12 icons. There is shortcut navigation by means of digit strings. Shortcuts can be created for the majority menu items pre-installed by the manufacturer though this option is disabled for personal files and applications.
Text input convenience remains at the same level. Thus pressing # button you bring out a list of available languages and you can easily switch between them while typing.
The manufacturer has envisaged horizontal subject labs apart from traditional vertical sub-menus. For example, in call register which can be viewed by pressing call key, you can view not only last dialed numbers but at the same time (by horizontal joystick deflection) switch between missed and received call tabs. In the phone menu such navigation is used in all possible situations, it makes using the phone easier. Such horizontal panels appear in Phonebook, Settings and some other menu items.
Enhancement of Activity Menu functionality ensued using the forth tab addition (similarly to K790i). The first three displays events as follows: missed calls, reminders, messages; this is the first tab. For such events it is possible to disable the use of Activity Menu, in this case there will start appearing pop up windows remaindering of a certain event type on the screen. The third tab features the shortcuts set up by yourself. The forth tab is links for the most frequently used resources, here on the first place proudly situates Google search. The great being people's belief in trademarks, and Google search engine in phone devices is akin to a voodoo conjuration for many Marketing Specialists. This search engine prefers some other manufacturers.
The second tab is more interesting, being a list of all running applications. Previous Sony Ericsson handsets supported multitasking: for example you could play a Java game all at once listening to the radio or player, as well as listen to the music while writing an sms. Here is one more step ahead: the user can run up to three Java applications and switch between them. It comes handy if you are using ICQ- like mobile client, which should be constantly online, but at the same time you'd like to play a Java game. Up to the moment no other manufacturers have announced such devices, Nokia is planning to introduce such function in its handset by the end of 2006-beginning of 2007.
At the same level there is the updated USB-connection function. Now you compulsory have to choose whether you will access file on memory card or not (data transfer mode) or the work with the phone will continue. In the first case the phone shuts down and you browse memory card. In the second case there are different USB settings for accessing the network, the phone is acting as the modem.
Phonebook. The handset can hold up to 1000 names with fully filled in fields, but the phone's limitation is 2500. So despite 5 phone numbers per name, you can't go over 2500. Although this is enough even for the most active users, some has phonebook that holds up only to 500 contacts.
For one name phone book holds several numbers, e-mail address, IM number and other information. In settings you can choose necessary fields which will be filling up. You can sort contacts by names and surnames, but there is only one input field. Unlike previous models there is a dynamic process, i.e. handset automatically sorts the list after changes.
For some special contacts you can set a custom ringtone and photo. On an incoming call in such case a custom melody and picture will be displayed. As well you can synchronize Birthday field with Organizer.
When imputing information you can scroll between tabs, in the first one you enter phone numbers, their sorting by types. In some way input mode with tabs is similar to such one in Outlook, it is rather comfortable. There is voice tag for some contacts, there are can be up to 40. Voice dialing feature is the same, it is becoming to seem a little old fashioned against voice independent recognition software.
You can scroll through the contacts by deflecting the joystick to the left or right, as well the rest of information can be browsed. . It goes without saying that you are the one who assigns the by default number. There is Open Contact option in the context menu now, it can be viewed at the time without entering editing mode as it had to be done before.
You can view date stored on the card from special option in the menu, they are not displayed in phonebook.
You can create a back up copy of all entries on the memory card and to restore them later on the handset.
Contact Groups are necessary only for mass SMS sending or white list call, you can't bind the desired picture or ringtone for Group.
Messages. There are standard to work with messages, there are templates and the possibilities to create your own. Memory of the handset as well as SIM-card are used for storing messages. Chat function is supported. On the whole everything is alike other phones of this company. Emoticons icons have changed they are more interesting now .
MMS implementation is at the high level, as the matter of fact you can create your own video clips, the handset advantageously differs from many other models by the number of settings on the one hand and their comfortable use on the other.
E-Mail client can send and receive emails, support all sort of encodings. The emails can be stored to memory card.
RSS Feed. The settings are very simple to set: you indicate the name and address of the feed then the phone download it. There is a possibility to update only one item, or the whole feed at once. The built-in browser capabilities are used for displaying the feeds.
Call lists . There are up to 30 contacts with date and time in the general list. Next to every entry there is an icon showing the type of the call (missed/received/dialed). Besides, additional icons are displayed in the general list showing whether this phone number is stored in the phonebook or SIM-card. You can also view separately the list of missed calls, there can be up to 10 entries. Also data about cost and time of the last call, all calls are displayed here. By means of tabbed menu the navigation between separate lists greatly saves your time.
Entertainment . In this menu you can get access to photo album, list of music files. MusicDJ function is interesting, although it is rather a high profile solution and there is hardly possibility that this function will be popular among broad circle of customers. In the editor you can create and edit ring tones, up to 4 tracks.
MusicDJ's advanced version is VideoDJ function; it allows editing not only music but also adding images and notes. The results are organized as 3GP format, that can be sent via MMS- or E-mail-message, and send immediately to the other phone.
For creative personalities the handset has envisaged graphical editor PhotoDJ where you can draw simple images. Occasionally, your time spins away by means of this editor, but more often this function is just useless.
Remote control it is possible to manage other devices via Bluetooth connection that is standard for other company's handsets.
Sound Recorder is a dictaphone, it allows making voice tags, which can be later used as a ring tones. Conversation recording is done from the context menu, there are no time limit set.
Games – there are two games in the phone: Alpha Wing2 (space arcade), Treasure Tower (a rather good adventure/arcade).
Radio. The memory can hold up to 20 FM- radio stations, there is auto-search and RDS function. Quality of radio doesn't differ from that of K750i, it is rather good. FM radio, it would seem, is a usual one, till we don't mention about Identify Music option in the menu. Listening to this or that radio station, you can face the thing that you don't know who the singer is, but you like the song. In such case it will be enough to activate this feature for the handset to store about 3-4 seconds of the song then will connect to special server that will analyze the song. As the result there is a tag scrolling in the upper part of the screen (horizontal and vertical orientations supported).
Music Mate . It is an application that can help you teach to play this or that music instrument, for example to play the guitar different chord are displayed. As a matter of principle, nothing special is here.
Organizer. There are hiding a lot of functions in the organizer menu. Let's begin with the calendar. There are three ways of viewing the events: weekly, monthly and today. In the last option you see list of all events and memos, in two other are highlighted time or day with the event. There is a quick switch to the required year, month, day, everything is rather standard as well as schedule input. Thus, you get the possibility to input title, indicate the place where the even is going to be, duration, and to set the memo (beforehand or at the start of the event). Now there is a possibility of reoccurrence option for events. Types of reoccurrence: daily, monthly. Memos work even when the phone is turned off, if you have set it previously.
To do list in this phone is quite ascetic; there are only two types of the events: phone call and reminder. On the other hand, it is rather enough, simplicity has its advantages.
There is a full-fledged search engine in the handset organized for the calendar: you specify the search line (word or a part of it), and here you have a list of events displayed before you, appropriate for this criteria. The function works rather quickly even if the organizer has more than 100 entries, there is a fast switch from the search window available.
The phone features standard transferring calendar to various devices (traditionally via IR-port and Bluetooth). You choose needed interval in terms of a day, week or month and send all notes. I must mention that the device should support PIM function in order to open and display this data properly. You can try to send your schedule to TV-set through IR connection, but it won't be able to display information. Alike you can get data for example from your home or office PC without any special software for synchronization.
Notes. Notes of limited length is foreseen in the phone, in the general list first word from the note is displayed. It is not always convenient, as you have to begin text with the marked word, to be able to recall what it is about.
Alarm Clocks. Alarm clocks have changed now there are exactly five of them, you can set work in definite week days for each of them. Besides alarm clock's ringtone you can choose small note and picture, that will be displayed on the screen. As the alarm clock ringtone can be any music file or radio.
Connectivity. You can setup all communicative settings for the phone, beginning with WAP, GPRS (the EDGE settings are the same) and ending up with Bluetooth and Synchronization. I won't stop at standard options they are rather understandable, everything works. I will specifically underline stable Bluetooth work, no problems were found in handset's work, synchronization with other devices runs smoothly, all profiles are supported (including A2DP, which is stereo sound via Bluetooth). Bluetooth version is 2.0 with EDR support.
WAP. A separate menu item is set for the browser ver 2.0, it supports secured connections which is important for electronic transactions. By means of browser you can download new wallpapers, themes and ring tones – it's all available at the original web-site.
NetFront browser is used as a standard browser for Sony Ericsson phones it supports one-line web-page display and HTML. As a handy things can be mentioned the possibility to create folders with files and bookmarks. Browser is one of the best but limited phone's resources do not make an easy using of it.
There is no work with html-pages, contenting advanced formatting or exceed 500kb. In many ways standard browser is optimal, but using Opera Mini is more favorable as it gives more possibilities.
Settings. As such this menu has all settings related the handset ' s work and partly to its outlook . In standby mode you can choose clock display at the bottom of the screen (on/off), also option of choosing the font size is now available, when the font is big the tine is well seen, although the font becomes transparent. Nothing more can be said, the rest everything is rather standard.
File manager, memory size. The user has 10 MB of available memory as well as the whole M2 memory card, here you can store his data, files (pictures, video, applications). The rest of the memory is occupied by preinstalled applications, as a rule you can't delete them. Also a part of the memory is dedicated to phonebook, call lists, etc.
The handset has a basic file manager it helps to sort files by various folders, create custom directories in phone's memory and store the data there. The phone by means of the cable or without it can be a perfect portable storage there you can store your working files.
Traditional file sorting includes options: date, type and size. There is a new setting in the Image Gallery which is called Timeline. By choosing this setting you will see a line at the top of the screen which will display a list of months. In the list there you will see photos that were made during certain months. You can make the list more detailed by pressing the same key twice, then you will see the list of days for chosen month. It is a good mode of displaying letting you to wander around tons of images.
Player. The handset has an built-in mp3 (AAC, eAAC+, WMA formats are also supported), 3GP and mpeg4 player. Player is a good means of playing back mp3 files. Among settings there is a possibility to tune the equalizer, moreover there are some pre-installed settings (Bass, Voice, Tremble, etc), as well as the possibility to create your custom ones. Depending on the chosen settings, the sound really changes to the better, it is really noticeably.
To its possibility player is similar to the one Sony Ericsson W800i. It can be minimized as the phone supports multitasking. There are no special censures to the player; it is only inferior to that of Sony Ericsson W950i.
Camera. 2 MP camera is built-in the handset with a CMOS matrix without auto-focus. The handset supports three possible resolutions - 1632x1224, 640x480, 160x120 pixels. There are two types of data compression ( Normal and Fine). The photos differ in size almost two times depending on the resolution. Thus a photo in the Normal mode takes up about 300 KB while the Fine quality results in 500-600 KB. In both cases to save the photo it takes you 1-2 sec., which is quite good for a file of such size. If you try to take several photos one after another (not in the Burst mode but just successively) then you will notice slight speed slowdowns (up to 3-4 seconds).
The polyphony in the handset is 72-tone, but there is no difference in sounding of mp3 tunes in comparison with other Sony Ericsson phones. The loudspeaker is average volume-wise, it is sounding with a great part of basses, the sound is well heard when calling. The handset is well heard on the street too. The silent alarm is of moderate power or even slightly higher than this, and it is not always felt, as it is a little weak. The receiving part if the phone is fine that is typical for other products by the company.
From the advantages of the phone can be named its functionality-wise that is a twin of the senior model saving for sport-centric features and its better package. The model is very interesting and what is more important it is one of the most affordable devices in Sony Ericsson's latest line-up.. In this handset the camera is mostly optional, the manufacturer doesn't tend to create competition with the models topping its range.
Market with the price segment of 280-350 USD there are a lot of models here Sony Ericsson Z710i's position seems strong only in the youth-aimed segment. The second focus is on those who are «still-young-30ies”. As a result the handset is targeted to the traditionally strong group of the consumers of Sony Ericsson products. That is the model wasn't released to take over new niches on the market, it's not its mission. The model is for those who need a good functionality of a feature-packed folder. By any possible stretch can be named many rivals of the handsets' solutions, but its only real rival is Nokia 6131 alone.
The price of the Z710i handset at the beginning of release will constitute about 300-320 USD, then it will become lower to the level of 270-300 USD. The device is unambiguously is higher than just a mass product unlike the senior model, Sony Ericsson W710i, but isn't loved as much as Nokia 6131 (its design hardly meets the mass market's requirements). Such phone interests the youths, and the general functionality of the phone is at the high level, that is not typical for the class it comes from. It's one of the best proposals among youth-aimed clamshells for today.