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Sony Ericsson P910i smart phone

The perfect phone and PDA?

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Sony Ericsson P910iThe apps have been updated too. Email feels smoother, more responsive and easier to navigate, with attachments neatly opening in Quickword and Quicksheet, the two now-bundled Office-compatible apps which not only allow you to view files but to edit them too. There's an intermediate stage in which .doc and .xls files become the apps' own format. Quickword has a Send menu option which allows you to email the modified form of an email-enclosed file directly. This I did and got a .doc back that contained only minor formatting inconsistencies - extra spaces before each paragraph mark, mainly. Quicksheet lacks this facility, but sending a modified and saved spreadsheet file back via the Messages app yielded a .xls that was nothing but XML.

Incidentally, getting online proved easier than it did with the P900 a year ago, with GPRS connections being made smoothly and more trouble-free. MMS messaging has been enhanced with Sony Ericsson's QuickShare system that minimises the number of steps you need undertake to, say, send a photos and videos. And reception is better, too,

In addition to Quicksheet and Quickword, Sony Ericsson bundles PDF+, which displays PDF files, though with some quirks, I noticed. It makes a bold but slow stab at it, but with some graphically complex, multi-layered files, such as IBM PowerPC roadmaps, what you saw wasn't what you'd got. Quickpoint, a PowerPoint presentation viewer, is included on the accompanying CD.

Don't expect to find the promised Blackberry client software, however. It's not in the SIM-free box, and won't be appearing until networks add support for the device. In the UK, currently only Orange and Vodafone offer the P910i, and neither appears to provide Blackberry support on the handset, at least not to individuals.

Sony Ericsson P910iBluetooth worked a treat, allowing me to zap over a 3.2MB MP3 at roughly 170KBps. Not quite USB speeds, though the bundled docking cradle provides the requisite ports to transfer files that way. Unlike so many handsets, the P910i scores major kudos for supporting AAC files, meaning I can use it with all those CDs I ripped in iTunes. It also handles MIDI, WAV, AMR, 3GPP, iMelody, RMF, AU and a format mysteriously labelled 'Other'. Even better, downloaded tracks can be used as ringtones.

Syncing with a Windows PC comes courtesy of Sony Ericsson's own software. Mac users get to use iSync. Despite Mac OS X's Bluetooth sub-system deciding the handset won't connect to iSync, it did, first time, copying over 600-odd contacts and a stack of diary entries. Connecting my PowerBook to the Internet via the P910i and GPRS was similarly straightforward. The P910i paired up and worked happily with a Motorola HS820 Bluetooth headset, though I could only initiate calls on the handset not the earpiece.

Browsing on the P910i is reasonably nippy, and the bundled browser doesn't do a bad job of shrinking graphics and trimming redundant HTML down to fit the handset's screen. But if you prefer it, Sony Ericsson has included a copy of Opera 6.31 on the accompanying CD.

One area where the P910i isn't better than its predecessor is battery life. Sony Ericsson's quoted figures are down from 16 hours' talk time down to 13 hours, with stand-by time falling from 480 hours to 400 hours. Even so, they're still impressive. The big battery ups the P910i's weight, to 155g, but that's still less than the Treo 600, say.

Verdict

Yes, the QWERTY keyboard's not really up to scratch, but the P910i provides potential buyers with plenty of other reasons to lay down their credit card. The much larger memory, more colourful display, scope for more capacious memory cards, superior numeric pad, much-improved software, better application bundle all put the P910i well above its predecessors. Is there room for improvement? Sure - the price, for a start. I hope the networks increase the subsidy - the P910i is an expensive product. But this is the first of its line for which I'd be happy to cough up the cash. ®

Sony Ericsson P910i
 
Rating 85%
 
Pros — Better numeric keypad; generous memory; much-improved on-board software and UI
 
Cons — Battery life could be better; flimsy QWERTY micro keyboard; expensive
 
Price £500 without contract; around £200 with contract
 
More info The Sony Ericsson UK P910i website

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