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Review: Sony Ericsson S710a

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Sony Ericsson devoted considerable effort to making this cameraphone more camera like. From the Home screen, opening the camera cover turns on the camera and switches the device to a camera-like interface which is a near copy of the interface from Sony's Cybershot digital cameras. When used as a camera, the phone is held horizontally and takes landscape photos.

The phone's shape and placement of the lens and shutter button make it easy to hold the phone steady and take good pictures, while the full screen camera interface helps to compose quality pictures. And the pictures are quality - they have good sharpness and color, even low light photos are impressive. Since the S710 uses the Cybershot interface, many of the same options are available on the phone as on cameras such as white balance and special effects.

When recording video, two different options - video size and clip type - affect the length of the clip, but not the quality. The video is smooth and clear at all settings. The clip lengths are based on file sizes, so the larger resolution results in shorter clips. Minimum time is about 9 seconds for a 176 x 144 message length clip, maximum is over 2 minutes for a 128 x 96 full length one. Although the video is excellent, the sound is sub par. It doesn't sound choppy but the volume is low, making the video into a bit of a silent movie.

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It takes about 2 seconds for the camera to come on after opening the lens cover. After taking a shot, it takes another few seconds for the camera to write the photo and let you return to the viewfinder. The write time depends both on the resolution of the photo you are taking as well as whether it is being saved to the phone's memory or the Memory Stick. After taking a shot, the phone (it's hard not to say "camera" instead of phone) will display the shot full screen and offer a number of options.

The same options are available in the File Manager application, which acts like a gallery for camera pictures and other media, except for zoom. The photo review screen is the only place place where you can zoom in and check on the picture's quality, it is not obvious, nor is it particularly easy to use. You can start a slideshow to display photos full screen from either application, however you cannot zoom in on the photos from there. This isn't that big of a deal since the 320 x 240 screen shows the pictures with quite a bit of detail.


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