Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Sony Ericsson K810i
- Cyber-shot camera, Camera shortcut keys, User interface, Included M2 memory card, Battery life
- Minimal improvements over predecessor, Small keys and controls
The K810i remains a great camera phone, but minimal improvements over its predecessor mean that it won't tempt current K800i owners to upgrade.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
The Sony Ericsson K810i is an upgrade to the popular K800i handset, but only the design has changed. Beneath its stylish exterior remains almost exactly the same handset. Despite minimal tweaking, the K810i remains an excellent phone on the whole, but obviously it won't tempt current K800i owners to upgrade.
The K810i's Cyber-shot camera is almost identical to its predecessor. Normally, this would come under some criticism, but the fact remains that this is still one of the best camera phones on the market, sitting alongside Nokia's 5 megapixel N95. The K810i features a Xenon flash, BestPic technology and an image stabilisation system.
The BestPic function takes nine photos with one press of the shutter button, allowing you to select the best photo. Four pictures are taken as the camera button is pressed and four just after (using memory buffing). You can then check the results and pick the pictures you like the most, saving as many as you like. This is ideal for capturing still images of moving objects - its only negative is the fact that you can't use the zoom function.
The Xenon flash means night photography is excellent, while auto focus, 16x digital zoom and image stabilisation options are other enticing features. The Xenon flash closely resembles those used on many stand alone digital cameras and it performs well. Other features include panorama and framed shooting modes, preset scenes such as landscape and portrait, macro and infinite focus options, white balance and metering mode. The one new addition to the K810i is Fix Photo mode. This allows you to apply extra sharpness after you take a photo.
The only other improvement from the previous model is a set of camera shortcut buttons, which light up on the bottom of keys 1, 4, 7 and * when the camera application is started. Photo quality, macro, self-timer and flash functions are easily turned on and off with the press of a button, and we found this very handy.
The K810i is a GSM (900, 1800, 1900 MHz) and 3G (2100 MHz) phone. A front mounted VGA camera is included for video calling, but unlike some other handsets, you can't take portrait photos with it. Voice calls are loud and clear, although the phone's design does dig into your ear a little when talking for long periods.
The K810i includes a music player with the A2DP Bluetooth profile, meaning you can stream your music to a compatible Bluetooth accessory, such as wireless headphones. Unfortunately, Sony Ericsson hasn't supplied an adaptor to use standard 3.5mm headphone jacks, so you'll have to make do with the included headphones; they are reasonable, but far from outstanding.
An FM radio with Radio Data System (RDS) is included, as well as SMS, MMS and email messaging (all with T9 predictive text input). The K810i is also an RSS reader. Connectivity is fair with Bluetooth, USB (a proprietary cable is included in the sales package) and infrared among the standard functions. The K810i also has a few nifty multimedia features including Music DJ, Photo DJ and Video DJ. These three tools allow you to edit any multimedia captured through the handset itself.
If you're into blogging, then the K810i should suit you well. In a couple of easy steps you can take a photo, write a small snippet of text and publish it on the internet as a blog - all through the phone itself. You get your own free personal blog website with blogger.com when you purchase the K810i and each blog only takes a minute or two to publish.
The K810i only includes 20MB of internal memory but it supports Memory Stick Micro (M2), the latest memory format from Sony. A 128MB M2 card is included in the sales package, enough to store a reasonable amount of data. The M2 card slides into the left side of the handset, behind a well concealed plastic cover. The K810i also has a great list of PIM functions, including alarms, calendar, tasks, notes, calculator and synchronisation with a PC using the supplied PC Suite software. Unfortunately, Mac users are once again neglected, as the software is only compatible with PCs running Windows 2000 or higher.
Measuring 106mm x 48mm x 17mm, the K810i is slightly smaller than its predecessor, but the difference is hardly noticeable. The biggest improvement is in the camera's lens cover. Where the lens cover of the K800i protruded from the back of the handset and made it sit unevenly on a flat surface, the K810i cover is smaller, and less likely to accidentally slide open when taking it out of your pocket.
The 2.0-inch QVGA screen remains the same, and it is still one of the better displays we've seen. It's bright and clear and has an excellent viewing angle, although its performance in sunlight isn't the best. The biggest change in design over the K800i is the keypad. The chrome keys are round and small and sit on a glossy, clear plastic backing. The design is certainly different and while it looks pretty stylish, the large amount of space between each key won't suit everyone. The biggest issue is the navigational joystick; it's small, it isn't raised enough, and the minimal space surrounding it means it's difficult to navigate at times. The two selection buttons and back and clear keys are also quite thin, meaning it's easy to accidentally press the wrong key. There are also dedicated buttons for Internet and shortcuts, both of which are squeezed on each side of the controls.
The K810i has a pretty impressive battery life, considering its camera and multimedia capabilities. Talk time is rated up to ten hours and standby time up to 400 hours - both figures on 3G and GSM networks. We found these figures were a little overstated, but we had to charge the handset every two or three days - an excellent result.
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