Thursday, November 24, 2011

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro Advantages And Disadvantages

Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro is business smartphone with optimized slider QWERTY keyboard and latest Android v2.3 Gingerbread OS preloaded with Office Suite Pro for editing office documents and advance functions like syncing your email, calendar, contacts in a safe & secure way at a premium price.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro adds a physical QWERTY keyboard to the best Sony Ericsson have to offer today. That includes a LED-backlit Reality display with Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine, an 8 megapixel ExmorR camera sensor, 720p video with continuous autofocus, and the latest Android 2.3.4.

And finally, you will get a couple of user guides and an 8GB microSD card in the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro box. The only thing missing is an HDMI cable. But usually is a market dependent feature.

The Xperia pro runs the latest version of Android and has a FWVGA screen, giving you access to the whole Android Market. The MSM8255 chipset should be able to handle most apps in there too.

And just as how we see on Apple’s Store, the Android Market had another visual boost lately plus a layout redesign. Now you get a few scrollable tabs - categories, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending.

The Xperia pro for is a smart messenger that might appeal to both business customers and young social users. If you don't need a huge gadget in your pocket, you will actually find the Xperia pro relevant to what you need even without multiple-core processing or FullHD video. In short, the bigger screen and keyboard should make enough of a difference.

The all-plastic Sony Ericsson Xperia pro weighs in at 142 grams and stretches to 120 x 57 x 13.5 mm. That's nearly the same size as the Xperia neo, which is quite an achievement, considering they squeezed in a QWERTY keyboard without increasing the thickness. It's a reasonably compact messenger with good handling, and it looks even slimmer because of the inward rear curve.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro Advantages And Disadvantages

The Xperia pro finish is heavy on gloss and gets covered in grease in no time. The smudges are quite hard to clean too but, luckily, not as visible on the red and probably silver version. For the black one though there is no hope.

Most of the phone’s front is taken by the 3.7" 16M-color LCD screen with a resolution of 854 x 480 pixels. The questionable feature is viewing angles: when you look at the display at an angle, contrast is quickly lost and the colors get washed out.

As to the keyboard itself, it uses the exact same layout as the Mini pro but the well-spaced keys enjoy more room and that's all to the user's benefit. The keys are prominent enough with nice matte finish, the press feedback is good. This is one of the most beautifully lit keyboards. Each key is outlined by a thin thread of light and the symbols are nicely illuminated.

The Xperia pro is powered by a 1500mAh battery, which should be enough to last three days of normal usage. That’s better than what we are used to seeing from modern-day smartphones.

The phone is well built, though we have our gripes. There is a wobble in the slider - the bottom of the phone is looser than the top. It's not too worrisome but it's there. The back cover is a hassle to open but let's say you won't need to do that too often. The Power button and the shutter key could've been better. We don't mind the plastic build and the sober styling. The phone looks good and handles well without being a design wonder. Because of the fingerprint issues we wouldn't recommend the black version.

Here is a video of the user interface in action, which is a good starting point.

video of the user interface in action, which is a good starting point

The Xperia pro has some custom-made Sony Ericsson widgets in addition to the standard set. Those include the Timescape widget (there's a dedicated app too) and a Mediascape-like widget for photos and videos. The actual app isn't there anymore, the standard gallery is back.

Creating folders is simple, using the iOS logic (and visual layout). You drag one icon over another and a pop-up prompts you to select an icon and a name for the folder you’re about to set up.

The lockscreen is standard Xperia fare. Which means you get notifications for Facebook events too. The standard notification area and task switcher are of course present and accounted for.

Screenshot:

There is one more thing worth mentioning - the Take Screenshot shortcut. It's found in the power settings and you need to press and hold on the Power/Lock key to access it. It would have been better if Sony Ericsson has made it with a combination of two keys (like the iOS's Home+Lock combo) rather than a virtual shortcut, but at least it's there.

TimeScape:

The Timescape brings all your communications together: an aggregate view of your SMS, MMS, email, call log, Facebook and Twitter updates. Timescape has a tabbed structure, allowing you to filter the contents by type and get all relevant information in one place.

With Timescape you not only see the latest activities and updates of your contacts but also share your own status, reply to received messages or return a missed call.

The best part of the new Timescape is that you can set it as a homescreen widget. It will show all of your updates as tiles. You no longer need to sacrifice all your homescreen real estate.

If all these functions are not enough, there are free Timescape plugins on the Android Market for Sony Ericsson users. There are already plugins for mixi, Foursquare, Orkut, Gmail, Music, Photo, etc. extensions.

Sync With Multiple Accounts:

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from some accounts, or set the phonebook to display only contacts with phone numbers.

And if a contact has accounts in multiple services, you can “join” their contact info to keep everything in one place. Their Facebook photos and interests (part of the Facebook integration) will show as extra tabs.

Unfortunately, the Xperia pro as every other Xperia phone does not support smart dialing. There’s voice dialing though (the quickest way to activate it is the dedicated homescreen widget).

Proximity Sensor: Thanks to the proximity sensor, the Sony Ericsson Xperia pro automatically disables the touchscreen when you hold it next to your ear during a call.

No Unified Inbox

Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there’s no unified inbox for other email services.

The generic email app can do that however. It can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes and you have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online.

Google Talk handles the Instant Messaging department. The GTalk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.

Large, Easy To Press Buttons:

As for text input, the Xperia pro offers a just the default (Gingerbread) on-screen full QWERTY keyboard. Even on the portrait keyboard, typing is pretty comfortable, keys are large enough and well spaced.

Flipping the phone to landscape however tells a whole new story. The large on-screen keyboard takes more than half the screen and gives you large, easy to press buttons. The Xperia pro is probably as good as you will ever need – in virtual keyboard terms of course.

QWERTY keyboard:

But who actually cares about those virtual keyboards, when you have the real deal - a full four-row QWERTY keyboard at your disposal. After all this should be the sole reason the buy the Xperia pro. And guess what? The keyboard turned out to be excellent. It's the fastest and easiest way to do all the typing and you will be pleased for sure.

Sony Ericsson has added support for Facebook albums too. They are distinguished by the small Facebook logo on them and when viewing individual pics from that album, you can "like" them with the thumbs up button in the upper right corner.

The BRAVIA engine:

The BRAVIA engine enhances contrast and colors, as it sharpens the image and reduces noise. These steps would normally lead to artifacts, but the high-density screen of the Xperia ray makes them invisible. You can switch BRAVIA off, but we recommend you keep it on - it really improves the image quality. As the native video player is a disappointment.

Well, that’s another disappointment – the video player supports only 3GP and MP4 videos.

To its credit, the Xperia pro did play a 720p MP4 video (but not 1080p). And the 3.7” FWVGA Reality screen offers excellent image quality (the BRAVIA engine comes into play here too) and spot-on aspect ratio.

The music player on the Xperia pro is the same app you get in the Xperia ray, the Xperia arc S. The interface is laid out in four tabs for the available sorting options: all artists, all tracks, playlists and albums. If you hit the menu key you’ll get a search shortcut, as well as send and delete options.

The music fans will appreciate the rich selection of equalizer presets. You also get Silent mode, which mutes all other sounds except for alarms - great for uninterrupted listening.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia pro is also equipped with an FM radio, which has a really neat and simple interface. It automatically scans the area for the available stations and places “notches” on the frequency dial for easier scrolling to the next station. Or you can mark some of them as favorite.

8 megapixel camera offers Sweep Panorama

The Xperia pro boasts an 8 megapixel camera, complete with a single LED light. Much like the Xperia ray, arc and arc S, the Xperia pro uses an backlit Exmor R sensor, which promises improved low-light performance. Our experience with these sort of sensors is that they indeed offer lowered noise levels but the improvement is nothing that major.

The camera controls on the Xperia pro are available on two taskbars on either side of the viewfinder. The left one holds five shortcuts to various settings, while the right one shows thumbnails of the five most recent photos.

You can choose between five capture modes - Normal, Scene recognition, Smile detection, Sweep Panorama and 3D Sweep Panorama. In Normal, you pick the Scene settings manually or you can enable Scene recognition and let the Xperia Pro take a guess (it's fairly good at it).

The two panorama modes are the additions brought by the Android 2.3.4. The Sweep Panorama option is available in lots of Sony portable cameras, so it should be familiar to some of you. Anyway, it’s very easy to take a panorama - you just follow an on-screen slider until you reach the end and your panorama shot is taken.

Unfortunately you can't choose how long it will be, you have to shoot it until the slider run out. If you are too slow or too fast you'll have to start over.

Depending on which panorama mode you have chosen, you will be able either to view your 2D shot (4912x1080 pixels) on your Xperia pro or take it on a 3D TV and see it there.

The panorama shots are captured with 4912x1080 pixels resolution and if you take them with a tripod they will be assembled perfectly. If not, you'll be surprised to out the pictures are almost as good as tripod enhanced ones.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia pro captures 720p video at 30 fps and does a very good job of it. The camcorder has similar settings to the still camera - focus mode, metering, exposure value and image stabilization are all user-configurable.

Videos are stored in MP4 format (6Mbps bitrate) and the frame rate nails the 30fps mark. The amount of captured detail is very good and so are the colors (though they're oversaturated again). Contrast is good too.

The amount of detail drops a bit in the dark as noise reduction fights to keep videos mostly noise free.

Connectivity Options:

The Sony Ericsson Xperia pro has a good deal of connectivity options. The basics are covered by quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and tri-band HSPA with download rates of up to 7.2 Mbps and upload at 5.76 Mbps.

It offers Wi-Fi (b/g/n) and Bluetooth 2.1 for wireless local connectivity. The Connected devices app turns your Xperia pro into a DLNA server, letting you view media on DLNA-enabled devices (e.g. TV, PlayStation 3).

The microUSB v2.0 port handles both wired data transfer and charging. With the Android 2.3.4 Xperia pro supports USB on-the-go, but you have to buy the Sony Ericsson Live Dock to be able to use it. When you get the accessory, you can connect USB Flash drives, keyboard and mouse to your phone.

A standard 3.5mm audio jack and a micro HDMI port complete the connectivity tally. There is no micro HDMI cable included in the retail box, but usually is a market dependent feature.

Storage:

The inbuilt storage has 240MB only available to the user, but you can expand it up to 32GB via the microSD card slot. The phone ships with an 8GB memory card.

Web browser:

The user interface of the browser is simple, with almost no visible chrome by default. Once the page loads, all you see is the URL bar and the bookmark button at the top of the screen. Once you zoom in and pan around though even that disappears (scroll to the top or press menu to bring it back).

One of the important features in the web browser is the full Flash 11 support. YouTube videos played smoothly at 360p, 480p and even 720p - no dropped frames and audio lag. It seems the new Flash 11 is much optimized than it’s the 10.x versions. Flash games played trouble free too.

Office Suite:

The Sony Ericsson Xperia pro comes with a solid set of organizing options, including a document viewer.

OfficeSuite supports both viewing (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF, including the Office 2007 versions) and editing/creating (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) document files.

Reading documents is quite comfortable on the high-resolution screen and panning is blazing fast.

The doc viewer integrates with both Gmail and the generic email app, which makes viewing attachments a cinch. The generic Email app even lets you download the attachments.

Integrated Calendar:

The calendar has three different types of view - daily, weekly and monthly. The lower section of the screen is reserved for Agenda: a list of upcoming events.

The Calendar also pulls info on upcoming events from your Facebook account. Events appear just like regular events but you can't edit them from the phone, they are read-only.

The alarm clock app allows a huge number of alarms to be set, each with its own start and repeat time. The Alarms app can also work as a desk clock - you have a big toggle for the brightness, weather info and shortcuts to gallery slideshow and the music player.

Unfortunately, you don’t have the Stopwatch, Timer or World Clock options. You don’t get a Voice Recorder either. There's plenty of those in the Android Market though.

GPS And Maps:

The Sony Ericsson Xperia pro comes with a GPS receiver, which took less than 3 minutes to get satellite lock from a cold start. You can use the A-GPS functionality to get near instantaneous locks or the network positioning if you only need a rough idea of your location.

Offline Maps rerouting is one – if you stray off course, Maps will recalculate the route without the need for an Internet connection. You can’t change the destination without a connection though. There are also 3D buildings, two finger rotation, tilting and so on. Of course, those features aren’t available everywhere. 3D buildings are available mostly in the biggest world cities.

Turn-by-turn voice guidance using Google Maps Navigation is only available in select countries and unless you live in one of them the best you can do is plan a route in advance and keep an eye on your current location during travel.

Street view is, as usual, a part of the standard package - it gives you a panoramic view of every bit of road in the covered areas. With the compass mode enabled, it feels like a virtual tour of the place!

Key features And Advantages Of Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro

  • Four-row slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • 3.7" 16M-color capacitive LED-backlit LCD touchscreen of FWVGA resolution (480 x 854 pixels) with Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine
  • Android OS v2.3.4 Gingerbread
  • 1 GHz Scorpion CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 chipset, 512 MB RAM
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geotagging
  • 720p video recording @ 30fps with continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Voice dialing
  • Adobe Flash 11 support
  • microHDMI port

Some of the Main Disadvantages Of Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro Are as listed:

  • Display has poor viewing angles
  • No smart dialing
  • No Stopwatch Timer or World Clock Options
  • microSD card slot is not hot-swappable
  • Battery cover is a hassle to open
  • Slider a bit wobbly
  • Black case extremely prone to fingerprints. Yes, because of the fingerprint issues we wouldn't recommend the black version.
  • Video player supports only 3GP and MP4 videos
  • To view the 3D panoramas, you need to connect your phone to a compatible 3DTV.

End Note:

Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro is the kind of phone that can enjoy demand from both business users and social networking fans. And is now ready to offer the Android experience to users of all backgrounds and ages. It was recently confirmed too that all the company’s recent smartphones would get the Ice-cream Sandwich update.

The screen size and resolution are more than adequate, the QWERTY keyboard is great. There’s a solid office and organizer package right out of the box – and the Android Market is the limit. The social and imaging skills are not just a bonus, they add an extra dimension. Even without dual core under the hood, the Xperia pro is by no means underpowered. And it can squeeze more life of the 1500mAh battery.

If you don't need a huge gadget in your pocket, you will actually find the Xperia pro relevant to what you need even without multiple-core processing or FullHD video. In short, the bigger screen and keyboard should make enough of a difference.

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About bench3 -

Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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