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Sony Ericsson P900


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P900 Interactive Review

by Rich Brome (Moderator)    Oct 21, 2003, 9:55 PM

Sony Ericsson sent me a P900 to review. Very Happy (I told them I don't do individual phone reviews, but they sent it anyway.) Since I don't have time to do a full, in-depth review, I thought I'd try something different - an "interactive review". My initial impressions are below, but they're not intended to be a full review.

The idea is basically to make this a Q&A thing - you ask questions, and I'll answer them as best I can using the P900 I have. Before you ask a question, please read the rest of this post, and check if someone else has already asked the same question.

First Impressions

The first thing that struck me about the P900 out of the box is the design. I really like how this thing looks! Of course I'd seen the photos, but it's extra-slick in person. The housing is plastic, but it feels very high-quality and solid.

It's not light, but not obscenely heavy. The weight does help it feel more "solid".

There are some nice touches in the design. The five-way jog dial is great. A little stiff, but still a fantastic way to operate the more complex functions of the phone. It's a real jog wheel, by the way, not a cheesy toggle that looks like a wheel (like some phones).

The camera lens is recessed, protecting it from most scratches and smudges. The display is similarly recessed when the keypad is up, providing some modest protection.

There are some flaws, though. The keypad feels like it's going to break off if you try to "over-open" it (if that makes sense). The door over the memory card slot is very poorly designed. It's hard to explain, but it's very frustrating to change the memory card.

The stylus is short, not much thicker than a toothpick, and requires your fingernail to remove. I don't like it. They should take a cue from Motorola - the telescoping stylus on the A760 is much better.

The ergonomics are pretty good. The quickest way to access most functions is with the jog dial, which is easiest to use with your thumb, while holding the phone in your left hand. It's a little awkward for me because I usually hold a phone in my right hand, but I don't think it would take long to adjust.

The ultra-narrow number keys were tricky at first, but I got used to them quickly, and now I think they're actually pretty good. Good tactile feedback.

The keypad requires a tiny screwdriver to remove, if you prefer the keyless configuration. The screws are tiny. (Think eyeglass screws, then think smaller.) Thankfully they include a spare pair of screws. I guess they expect you to lose them at least once, which is probably a fair assumption.

The display is very nice. Colors are rich, brightness is adequate. It looks great outdoors and in bright light.

Sound quality, at least incoming, is good. Ringtones sound great - you can use MP3s as ringtones, which is pretty neat.

The OS is interesting. It's not as intuitive as I would like. I think most people will want to read the manual.

The interesting thing is how it works when the keypad flip is up vs. down. It's like two different devices. With the keypad open, it's a powerful PDA device. With the keypad closed, it's a phone - kinda...

The basic idea is great. With the flip closed, you can access key information and functions quickly without using the stylus. Only a handful of applications are available, and each one works differently with the flip closed. For example, you can access your to-do list and mark items as completed, but you can't edit them. If you want to edit them, you just open the flip and bingo you have the full to-do application.

But it's a bit flawed. For example, I can't find a way to add a new contact without opening the flip. If you just enter a phone number, your only option is to call it. I also can't add a new to-do item, although I can create a new text note... Confused Adding contacts and to-do items are both things I do often, that I don't necessarily want to break out the stylus for.

And if you open the flip to jump to the "full" version of an application, when you close the flip, you're taken to the home screen, instead of back to the flip-closed version of that application.

My biggest gripe is just the inconsistencies between the flip-open and flip-closed modes. It's like learning to use two different devices, which can be very frustrating at times.

There are other delights and annoyances with the OS. Overall, it's not bad, but there's definitely a lot they could do to make it easier to use.

One nice thing is the flexibility. Between the job dial, the keypad, and the touch screen, there's usually more than one way to accomplish something. It's nice to have options.

Moving on... the speed of the device is adequate. It's not super-snappy, but not slow, either.

...that's about all I can think of for now. Overall, I like it, but it's not perfect.

So what do you want to know about the P900?

Here are some quick caveats on the questions:

  • I never spent much time with a P800, so I can't answer questions about how it compares with that device.

  • I'm not going to run benchmarks or scientifically test battery life.

  • I live downtown with good coverage, and don't have a car, so unless I have occasion to travel, I can't comment on reception ability.

  • I only have it for a week or two.

  • In general, I can't promise I'll be able to answer all questions, but I'll try my best.

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