Sony Ericsson roundup: W380, Z555, W350, T280 preview
Sony Ericsson Z555
The Sony Ericsson is functionally identical to W380 - it's got almost the same goods and bads with some twists. There is Flash Lite theme support but an enhanced one (the standard theme changes colors according to the time of day), there is gesture control support and an external display, but there are no external music keys or light effects. There is the 1.3 megapixel camera, the 176 x 220 pixels TFT display, and the M2 memory card slot, however the Walkman player is not present. The Sony Ericsson Z555 however makes up for it with a gem inspired design and a better keypad.
The Sony Ericsson Z555 is expected to become available in Q1 2008 too, however we have a hunch it won't be that successful as its Walkman-enabled twin.
Sony Ericsson Z555 360-degree spin
Design and construction
The Sony Ericsson Z555 has the same excellent build quality as the W380, however it comes with a totally different design. While it's intriguing at first glance, we couldn't quite get to like it as much as we dig the W380.
The front panel has a similar hidden OLED display but with portrait orientation. There are no external keys however.
The 1.3 megapixel camera lens is again the main eye-catcher on the glossy external surface. Since the Sony Ericsson Z555 uses its camera for gesture control much like the W380, there is also a tiny LED just below the lens that lights up when it's too dark for the camera to detect your movement.
The external display of the device is not only hidden but it also has some sort of a cool reflection effect. But again it's unusable under direct sunlight.
We like this keypad better
Opening the clamshell single-handedly is again impossible as with W380. Once you've got past that, you will immediately see the 1.9 inch 262K color TFT display with a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels and the large keypad. The keypad has the same layout as the one of Sony Ericsson W380, however the keys are designed differently. They are still a bit hard to press down and the keypad has a rather uneven backlighting in the dark but we like this keypad more than the one of W380 - at least visually that is. The shortcut keys for the browser, the profiles and the Activity menu are a lot bigger than the ones on W380.
You also might notice that just below the display there's a tiny ambient light detector.
The back panel of the Sony Ericsson Z555 is of the same novel pry-to-open type and under it is the Sony Ericsson BST-39 Li-Ion battery, which has a capacity of 930 mAh. The manufacturer rates it at up to 360 hours of standby time and up to 8:20 hours of talk time. Interestingly enough those figures are 20% more than the expected battery life of W380. Unfortunately, we can't comment on the real-life performance of that battery either.
The M2 memory card slot is also accessible only with the cover off, but otherwise it's fully hot-swappable. So it seems that the Sony Ericsson Z555 user might end up using the pry-to-open method more often than one would like to.
When it comes to the Sony Ericsson Z555 user interface, there are no surprises in store for the user. It has an enhanced Flash light theme support - its implementation remind of the more expensive Sony Ericsson T650 model. The animated standard theme changes its colors and shades according to the time of day.
The image gallery of the Z555 is something most of the Sony Ericsson users have already seen. It allows filtering images based on the memory they are stored on. Further on, much like W380 you have Timeline view, which allows you to filter the photos in the camera album based on the date they were taken on.
Since the Sony Ericsson is not in the Walkman lineup, it doesn't have the Walkman music player either. The music player on Z555 has a similar functionality when it comes to filtering tracks and working in the background. However it lacks light effect support, visualizations support, skins and the MegaBass preset. Otherwise since the Z555 and W380 are virtually identical, we suppose that sound quality is similar too.
The Z555 also has a FM radio with RDS support. It's the same as the one on W380, but with a different skin. Again, it can store up to 20 stations.
The Sony Ericsson Z555 1.3 megapixel camera has pretty much the same interface as the camera on W380. The only thing that's lacking here is the Panorama shooting mode we saw on W380.
The Sony Ericsson Z555 has two applications preinstalled - both rely on Internet access to work. The AccuWeather is a mobile application for access to their popular weather service. Audible is the second application and it allows downloading of podcasts and audio shows. They are all paid though, and you only have a right of a sample.
The Sony Ericsson Z555 comes with only one game preinstalled - it's the Jewel Queen II, which is a version of the highly popular game Bejeweled.
So that's about our hands-on experience with the Sony Ericsson Z555. Jump to the next page for an overview of the slim and compact Sony Ericsson W350 and don't forget to hit the last page of this article for some comparative camera samples.