Sony Ericsson p910i

25 Nov 2004

Product: Mobile phone
Price: €599
When things went bad in the telecom market Ericsson suspended its entire mobile phone marketing strategy locally and up until recently little was seen or heard of an Ericsson phone on the media radar.

In the past year, however, things have changed and the company, in its new guise, Sony Ericsson, has started to consider the Irish media again, allowing us to check out its products.

The last Ericsson phone I owned was a clunky black number that had a flip screen that opened to reveal a large black and white screen on to which you could handwrite commands and surf the internet. I loaned it to a colleague who within a week had the phone ripped from his hand, mid-conversation, by some gurrier while walking down Grafton Street.

I had heard all about this new phone from Sony Ericsson and it reminded me of the last Ericsson phone I had. Coupled with sexy advertising of the phone in the European press over the past month I really looked forward to reviewing it.

First and foremost, this is a businessperson’s phone. It’s not some slim, watered down excuse for a phone that has flashing lights, a miserable display and an equally miserable camera that would appeal to teenagers. It’s the real thing with everything a business user could possibly require — email, calendars, word processing, spreadsheets — it can even open PDFs! But it is also a multimedia phone in the sense that you can take photos, record videos and listen to music.

When I first took the device out of the box, I was disappointed at how clunky it was — the P910i was a brick. You could compare this phone to a classic cheesy rock song that tasteless DJs (particularly midweek afternoon show DJs) force on people usually stuck in traffic. Like most such songs, it gradually grows on you and you become quite attached to it.

Navigating the phone, particularly using its kind of click-wheel on the side and a pen-based touch screen on the inside, seemed at first to be confusing but through familiarity you gradually start appreciating certain refinements in its creation. In fact, words and phrases such as ‘clunky’ and ‘cheesy rock song’ become quite redundant when the phone’s features and its designers’ notable achievements in creating it become clearer.

As a businessperson’s phone it is an entire communications centre — it’s triband, contains Bluetooth, infrared and USB connectivity and integrates seamlessly with Outlook and Lotus. As a multimedia phone it is perfect for viewing videos as a result of an excellent volume output and a large colour screen that can draw from a palette of up to 262,000 colours. Some of the applications, such as its calendar function, are excellent and the phone’s screen size again makes it a joy to use.

I was, however, disappointed with the phone’s camera performance. Although the camera comes with a variety of modes such as ‘outdoor’, ‘indoor’ and ‘video’, there is no apparent zooming mechanism, which to me defeats the purpose of the camera.

All in all, this phone is an achievement in terms of technological sophistication and I can envisage business buyers gaining years of usage out of it as a solid workhorse for anywhere, any time communication. The smart phone is available from both O2 and Vodafone on a post-pay basis for €599 (including Vat).

By John Kennedy