Sony Ericsson Hazel preview: First look
Location services and web browsing on the go
As the Sony Ericsson Hazel is equipped with a GPS receiver and the Location services set is pre-installed. Along with the Google Maps you'll find the Wisepilot app, which comes to replace the Wayfinder Navigator on previous handsets. Much like Wayfinder, Wisepilot is a trial version only.
The web browser preinstalled on the Hazel is latest NetFront 3.5 web browser. It offers a much smoother experience and renders web pages more quickly. It nails the zoom level for comfortable reading almost every time.
Equipped with the well-known mouse pointer, the NetFront 3.5 web browser always operates in fullscreen view mode and the four most important features are easily accessible on a toolbar - mini-map, enter an address, favorites and downloads.
Additionally we spotted some other new features as well such as mark-and-copy, which allows you to copy text off web pages. There's also basic Flash support (which unfortunately doesn't extend to Flash video watching).
Tons of apps
The Hazel comes with tons of preinstalled applications. The same are preinstalled on the Elm, which we previewed recently. We covered the YouTube app there, but here's the rest of the list.
The AccuWeather application gives you up-to-date weather information for locations of interest. Current conditions overview and a three-day forecast is available for a great number of cities around the world. You should bear in mind that the data is downloaded in real time so data charges may apply.
The Walk Mate is a simple step counter application which works in background mode getting its data from the built-in accelerometer. It can be used as homescreen wallpaper.
The Standby World 3D is a nice application with readings for up to three different time zones around the world. The background changes as day turns into night in the selected locations. You can set this app as a homescreen background as well.
The last app is the Calendar wallpaper, which is a slideshow displaying one after another a clock, a calendar, list of tasks and the last photo taken with the built-in camera.
Sony Ericsson must be quite serious about their GreenHeart lineup. The Elm and the Hazel look like the right phones to give it a fresh kickstart. Perhaps there will be more to follow - in the lower segments and with different eco-friendly twists. The point of the Hazel (and the Elm) though is to show that green handsets don't need to be functionally crippled niche devices.
The Hazel is far from a definite must-have but it boasts all-round skill and that's still a rarity in feature phones. If smartphones and touchscreen are not your thing this one is a logical option. The promised widget support and social networking will be another important asset.
The GreenHeart duo does well to diversify the supply. The differences between the Elm and the Hazel are mostly visual - different form factor and different displays. Whichever you choose you can count on solid all-round performance. We have to admit though we have a soft spot for the Elm - for its unusual shape and brilliant ergonomics. If you haven't done already, check out its preview, that we posted only recently.
Anyway, both GreenHeart devices seem to be worth your thought if you're shopping for an all-in-one feature phone. The rich equipment, ergonomic design and eco-friendly attitude are motivating enough. We only hope this time Sony Ericsson will think twice before they peg the price tag. Affordable touchscreen and smartphones may be a major threat, especially for the Hazel, which won't make it to the shops before the Q2 of next year.