Sony Ericsson Elm preview: First look
Media Center: rich multimedia
Sony Ericsson Elm runs the same flash-based Media Center found in its most recent siblings. It serves as the launch base to Photos, Music, Video, Games and RSS feeds. The Media Center settings are quite simple - you can opt for portrait, landscape or auto-rotate modes.
The Music Player to be found in the Elm is version 4.0 - the same as the most recent Sony Ericsson Walkman phones. Across the Media Center menus, you can enjoy screen auto-rotation. The player supports numerous file formats, including the regularly used MP3, WAV, WMA, M4A and E-AAC plus the MegaBass equalizer preset and Stereo widening. The player can naturally run in the background.
The available player styles are the same we already met in the Yari and Aino and use many Flash animations. You may opt for a spinning vinyl with some fancy buttons around it, or an old gramophone, a tape-recorder, or even a home stereo system. Every one of these styles gives the player look and feel a total overhaul.
The interface colors of the Media center vary across different themes.
The video player in the Media center supports fast-forwarding and rewinding, and the interface is simple and stylish. The video files are accessible via the file manager too. The other extras include fullscreen mode and screenshot capability.
There's no XviD or DivX support of course, but Sony Ericsson are promoting their MediaGo desktop software for video transfers and conversions.
Back to our the Elm now, the Media center video section also houses the pre-installed YouTube client. It gives you full access to clips and uploading, bookmarked favorites and so on.
The Photo gallery is also the same - it stores the shots you've taken, along with prebundled or uploaded images, and offers some extra options like mark as favorite and photo feed. Latest Photo provides quick access to the most recent photos. Camera Album is a thumb list for each month of the year and when a month is open, it reveals a 3 x 4 grid of photo thumbs. Scrolling down shows all the photos taken in the corresponding month with the highlighted photo slightly enlarged for better viewing.
The Pictures section again opens as a 3 x 4 grid of thumbs with non-camera images such as the preinstalled wallpapers. When exiting the fullscreen view of a picture, it smoothly zooms out to thumb view.
You can send your pictures directly to your web albums, via MMS or Bluetooth. If the retail version software provides the promised social network integration, the uploading options will probably be even more varied.
Finally, the Elm is capable of putting standard GPS coordinates in images using Cell-ID. When browsing tagged images in the gallery, the View-on-map option displays the location where the picture was taken directly on the preinstalled Google Maps.
PhotoDJ, VideoDJ and MusicDJ are signature apps for all Sony Ericsson feature phones, and are available here too.
Browser and more coming up
The Elm has quite a lot in common - including web browser and applications - with the Sony Ericsson Hazel. We'll be looking closer at those in our Sony Ericsson Hazel preview, which is coming up in the following days. Stay tuned.
The Sony Ericsson Elm isn't a revolutionary device but it sure has a front spot in the company's feature phone lineup. It's arguable whether GreenHeart will be as compelling as Cybershot or Walkman, but the Elm is certainly not limited to an eco-friendly niche. Right the opposite, together with the Hazel, it ventures to take charge of the Sony Ericsson midrange at a moment when the company is radically reshaping its portfolio.
With top-notch connectivity, good 5 megapixel imaging, the green commitment and new approach to social networking, the Elm has a strong enough identity that goes well beyond GreenHeart. A small, lightweight and feature-rich phone, with a distinct design, sounds like a good recipe for success.
We had such a nice time with it we may be tempted to overstate its sales potential. It may be too much and too early to call it a bestseller but it's all cheers on Elm street at present.