Sony Ericsson K850i impressive

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I spent two glorious days last week testing the latest model in the Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot line: the K850i. When Jonjie Gonzalez, Sony Ericsson’s press relations man in Cebu, invited me to test a K850i demo unit for a day or two, I jumped at the chance. I am, after all, a rabid Sony Ericsson fan-boy.

The Sony Ericsson K850i comes with a 5-megapixel camera and a slew of standard Cyber-shot features that distinguish the line among camera phones.

Sony Ericsson k850i Sony Ericsson K850i. The latest in the Cyber-shot line comes with a built-in 5-megapixel camera and a lot of features that distinguish the line from other camera phones. The phone, however, no longer has the small mirror that helps you position yourself when taking self-portraits. Click on photo to enlarge.

It has a dedicated camera button and does away with the active lens cover of previous versions of the product line. I’ve gotten used to the active lens cover–a sliding cover that activates the phone’s camera when you expose the lens–and had to stop myself a few times from using my fingers to slide a non-existent cover. But doing away with the moving parts that make up the active lens cover makes the phone more compact.

The K850i, however, does not have the small self portrait mirror that had been a fixture in its phones. The small round mirror, which helps you align the phone to make sure that you get yourself inside the photograph, is very useful for taking self portraits, preferably beside belly dancers (darn, I missed them during the launch). I can’t understand why the company removed it.

Camera features

The built-in camera comes with auto focus; Xenon flash, which helps you get good shots even in badly-lit environments; 16x digital zoom; and image and video stabilizer. It also comes with BestPic, a feature that lets you take nine successive shots on a single press of the camera button. You will then be asked to choose which image you want to save. BestPic is great for taking photos of fast moving subjects although I wished it will just save the entire set instead of having to force you to choose a single image.

Sending text message using PC suite IMPROVED PC SUITE. The Sony Ericsson PC Suite that comes with the K850i is a massive improvement compared to the software. It is now more integrated and comes with tools for sending and receiving text messages; managing files, contacts, and calendar entries; and connecting to the Internet.

The phone also comes with a lot of preset configurations that manipulate how the camera processes images. On the first day of my test, I had a hard time figuring out why photos I took indoor and at night were very dark, even with the flash firing. It turned out I forgot to change the settings to one of the “twilight” presets, a setting that improves photo quality in poorly-lit environments.

When I turned it on, the images were better. If you want to check the quality of images taken by the k850i, check my Zooomr set here, click on “all sizes” if you want to view the actual size of the photographs.

Mobile Internet

I used my Smart Buddy account with the K850i demo unit and for good reason: I am a satisfied and frequent user of the company’s mobile Internet. Smart charges an affordable P10 for every 30-minute block of mobile Internet usage.

Using K850i as modem Using the K850i as modem. The Sony Ericsson PC Suite simplifies management of the phone as an HSDPA modem. Above, the suite said I was connected to Smart’s GPRS network. When I tested the K850i, I did not activate the 3G settings.

The K850i is a multi-band phone and has HSDPA connectivity, a wireless connection that offers blazing download speeds. I wasn’t able to surf sites or test other applications but my experience in using Google Maps for Mobile indicated great downloading speeds. I also tried using it to connect my PC to the Internet and the PC suite indicated I was connected through GPRS although speed tests showed I was having a connection in excess of 500 kbps (and yes, I unplugged the LAN cable that was connected to the router).

Another great thing about the phone is that it works with the My Location feature of Google Maps for Mobile.

Sony Ericsson PC Suite

One of the best things about the phone isn’t with the unit itself, it’s with the CD that comes with it. The Sony Ericsson PC Suite that comes with the K850i is a massive improvement to the software. It is a great piece of application that makes connecting the phone to and using it with your computer such a wonderful experience.

It wasn’t always like this. I used to just skip the PC Suite installer that comes with a Sony Ericsson phone and just use its drivers. After installing the drivers, I would then connect my phone to the PC and use Float’s Mobile Agent, an open source software that allows you to manage contacts and files, send and receive text messages, make and receive calls from your PC.

PC Suite file manager FILE MANAGER. The file manager tool in Sony Ericsson PC SUITE. Click on photo to enlarge.

But the PC Suite version that comes with the K850i makes Float’s Mobile Agent, which works with the phone, superfluous. The new application suite is an even better piece of software. It’s a centralized phone management application that will allow you to send and receive text messages, manage contacts, files, and calendar entries, update your firmware and use the phone as Internet modem.

New keys layout

The K850i has a new navigator keys layout. This is the biggest adjustment for someone using older Sony Ericsson phones. The OK or selection key is no longer contained within the four navigator keys. Instead, you have to press somewhere above the keypad and right below the screen. But the interface is cool, though. It’s “semi” touch screen. The keys were engineered in such a way that it almost feels that the bottom part of the display is touch screen.

The first few minutes of using the navigator and alpha-numeric keys were a bit awkward. But pretty soon, I got used to it and was pressing buttons at my usual speed. Come to think of it, I’ve gotten used to using the K850i layout that when I returned to using my dependable (albeit now ancient) K750i, I found myself pressing the bottom part of the screen.

FMA and k850i FLOAT’S MOBILE AGENT. While FMA works with the Sony Ericsson k850i, it has become superfluous because the PC Suite that comes with the phone can now send and receive text messages as well as manage files, contacts, and calendar entries.

The K850i is a great phone, no doubt about it. The suggested retail price is at the P20,000 level. But you can get the phone for free with Smart Gold’s P3,500 plan. If you’re frequently out of the office but still need to regularly connect to the Internet, the K850i will do well as an HSDPA modem for your laptop or as standalone mobile browser, e-mail client, and RSS reader.

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9 Comments

  1. I’m also a Sony Ericsson user and in terms of value for money and ease of use, I’d say that it’s definitely better than other phone brands. But I think Nokia still dominates the market in the Philippines because Nokia is “the name we know”. Now, could there be a link with our cellphone buying patterns with the way we choose our elected officials. Just look at the so-called “dynasties” in municipalities, cities, and provinces. This reminds me of Eddie Murphy’s movie, “The Distinguished Gentleman” hehe

  2. Hi Dexter,
    Thanks for the heads-up. I distinctly remember disabling directory browsing in CPanel for directories without index files? It must have been turned off. Oh well, I just added a blank HTML file after reading your comment. Again, thanks for the alert.

    Hi Lester,
    Glad to meet a fellow Sony Ericsson fan 🙂 . I think Nokia’s entry-level phones help prop up its dominance in the country. But with the replacement cycle and with Sony Ericsson’s new entry-level multimedia phones, I think SE will be increasing its market share in the country.

  3. I wrote a how to guide, on How to convert a Sony Ericsson K800i to a SE K810i, the newer model for free of course at http://tech.getitfromboy.net.

    On the issue of Nokia and SE in the Philippines. Well, Sony Ericsson is slowly but surely getting some foothold in the Philippines. I think its market share now is from 5% before to my conservative estimate of 40-50% now. Why? Almost all i know and almost wherever i go be it in the Palengke or malls, people are toting Sony Ericsson phones nowadays.

    Maybe because Nokia has its clones now from China and people are wary to be carrying something expensive only to be mistaken for NOKLA!

    At least, for now, Sony Ericsson phones have not been cloned..

  4. Hi,
    Thanks for the feedback. When I get the time for experiments, I might try it out. I’m still swamped with projects (personal and work-related) nowadays.

  5. When i press the K850i application. The Operation Failed pops out. And still the same when i format it. Do u have any any drivers to help this?

  6. Hi I have had the phone now for 6 months and had no problems apart from rebooting it’s self when it feels like it .
    But the PC soft ware has just updated it’s self and gone wrong ? I can no longer get to my text’s they are there but can not get to them the front page does not go away any one else had this problem or know a way out ? Even if going back to the old 30 would be good but I can not lose the texts I have on PC

  7. K really, wtf are yall talking about. The phone isn’t bad, that phone is fucking awesome well atleast in the USA. You all are just really fucking stupid, actually look up shit before you make this phone to seem like da shits because yall dumbasses are so fucking stupid. FUCKING LONG LIVE K850i FOR SMART PEOPLE ONLY WHO ENJOY QUALITY. PEACE THe fuck out niggers.

  8. I have now talked to Sony about my problem and was shocked to learn that the update is not guarantied to work with windows XP PRO service pack 3 ?
    I still can not get to my texts on PC phone it’s self has been good phone but the PC software sucks

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