Sony Ericsson Aspen review: Tree-hugging business

GSMArena team, 08 July 2010.
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Introduction

The Aspen may well be the phone you’re least likely to expect from Sony Ericsson. To begin with, it’s a PocketPC but shuns comparison to the XPERIA line. On a second thought though – it’s a concept that can be traced way back in the Sony Ericsson portfolio. The mythical P series were at one point the place to look for the ultimate smartphone. Symbian UIQ even extended to include the G series and the M series. Those of you paying attention might as well remember a couple of touchscreen Walkman phones too.

But this is no time for a crash course in Sony Ericsson history. The Aspen is about to hit the shelves and we guess you are busy doing your homework.

Touchscreen, D-pad and a full QWERTY keyboard – the Sony Ericsson Aspen is a gadget designed to put you in control. But where some will see endless possibilities of interacting with the device, others will be right to question the usability of the whole thing. Too many buttons leave little room for the display – a small and low-res touchscreen is one compromise Aspen’s users will have to be prepared to consider.

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Sony Ericsson Aspen official photos

On the other hand though, the Sony Ericsson Aspen runs the latest WinMo Pro version and has a fair degree of UI customization to try and offer the best user experience. The phone brings a complete set of business features and even attempts to deliver above-average media. Not least, the GreenHeart logo will perhaps serve as extra motivation for users to give the Aspen a try.

Key features

  • Four-row QWERTY keyboard, D-pad navigation
  • 2.4" 65K-color resistive touchscreen of 320 x 240 pixel resolution
  • Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Professional with XPERIA panels
  • 256MB RAM, 265MB ROM, 100MB user storage
  • Quad-band GSM support and 3G with HSDPA 7.2Mbps and HSUPA 2Mbps support
  • Wi-Fi b/g
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • DivX, XviD video support
  • microSD card slot (up to 16GB, 8GB card in the box)
  • 3.15 megapixel fixed-focus camera, geotagging, VGA video recording @ 15fps
  • Office document viewer
  • Web browser has Flash support
  • Stereo FM Radio with RDS; TrackID
  • microUSB and stereo Bluetooth v2.0
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Made of recycled materials, comes with waterborne paint

Main disadvantages

  • Small and low-res touchscreen display
  • Fairly customized but inconsistent UI
  • No proximity sensor for in-call screen auto locking
  • No secondary video-call camera
  • Memory card slot under the battery cover
  • Poor still imaging and video, no flash
  • Video playing limited to QVGA
  • Poor task switching

The Aspen may not be most people’s first choice of a PocketPC but it fits the bill for business. Not least because of its fairly compact size and messenger form factor. It enters a market dominated by Nokia’s Eseries and BlackBerry but seems to have enough character to set itself apart.

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Sony Ericsson Aspen live shots

It also looks likely to be cheaper than the average BlackBerry and Nokia enterprise handsets. It adds touchscreen to a standard QWERTY keyboard. While this isn’t that much of an advantage in this form factor, users are at least given an extra degree of functionality. The eco-friendly vibe and the human curvature styling are some extra points in its favor.

Among other things, the Aspen is perhaps helping Sony Ericsson stay focused while waiting for WinMo 7. It also does well to bring an extra dimension to their GreenHeart lineup. So, it may repay in more ways than one but – as usual – the question we’re asking is what it offers users. Follow us on the next page as we start exploring the Sony Ericsson Aspen. The first thing on our checklist is exterior and handling.

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