Sony Ericsson Hazel review: Earth, wind, green heart
The Media Center
Sony Ericsson Hazel runs the flash-based Media Center to bring together all the media content on your phone (Photo, Music, Video, Games, RSS feeds). The Media Center settings menu is simple – you may opt for portrait, landscape or auto-rotate modes.
The Music Player on the Hazel is the latest Walkman version. 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 of course be set to run in the background.
The interface colors of the Media center vary across different themes. The Walkman player on the Sony Ericsson Hazel also offers fun styles – skins that change the look of the player into a vinyl record player, a reel-to-reel tape player, CD player and others.
The phone lacks a standard 3.5mm audio jack so you won’t be able to use your favorite headphones unless you get an adapter. There is no shake control either, despite the built-in accelerometer.
A familiar Walkman goodie, SensMe, offers a different approach to populating a playlist. It automatically generates playlists based on what tempo and what mood you want – fast or slow, sad or happy. Songs need to be tagged, which is only possible with the Sony Ericsson’s PC software.
TrackID is also available – it analyzes the song currently playing on the radio or whatever it picks up with its mic and retrieves the performer and the name of the song.
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. Other extras include fullscreen mode and screenshot capability - you have the option to save a frame of video and add it to the gallery.
Of course, there's no XviD or DivX support. Sony Ericsson are keen for you to use their MediaGo desktop software to transfer any video from a computer to the handset in the correct format and resolution to be played on the phone.
Our review of the desktop application proved it does the job alright, but there's still more to wish for.
Back to our Hazel 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 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 currently selected photo slightly enlarged for better viewing.
The Pictures section is 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.
Unfortunately, the Photo gallery can get quite laggy when there are a lot of photos in a folder. At times, the phone froze for a couple of seconds before moving on.
Generally, the Photo gallery is a richly-featured tool for managing your photo collection and it offers very good customization capabilities. Photo Tags displays previously marked favorite photos. The sending options include Send as Picture Msg, as Email, via Bluetooth or even to web albums (Picasa, Blogger or Flickr).
Finally, the Hazel is capable of embedding standard GPS coordinates in images. 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.
Accordingly, picture browsing via the classic file manager is still possible, but we are sure only a few users will make use of it.