Sony Ericsson Xperia ray review: Ray of light
Gallery on BRAVIA
The Xperia ray uses the traditional droid Gallery, which hasn’t really seen much change in Gingerbread. It has good functionality, cool 3D looks and nice transition effects, but unfortunately only shows a downsized version of your images.
The different albums and folders appear as piles of photos, which fall in neat grids once selected. If you have online albums over at Picasa those show up as separate stacks as well.
Sony Ericsson have added support for Facebook albums too. They are distinguished by the small Facebook logo on them and when viewing individual pics from that album, you can "like" them with the thumbs up button in the upper right corner.
Photos can be sorted by date with the help of a button in the top right corner, which switches between grid and timeline view.
The gallery supports finger scrolling or panning so you can skip images without having to return to the default view. Thanks to the Xperia ray's multi-touch support pinch zooming is also available here but you can also double tap or use the +/- buttons.
The Android gallery still shows only downsized version of you images, though if you send one from here the full-res shot is received on the other end.
Images can be cropped or rotated directly in the gallery. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS also comes in handy.
The BRAVIA engine enhances contrast and colors, as it sharpens the image and reduces noise. These steps would normally lead to artifacts, but the high-density screen of the Xperia ray makes them invisible. You can switch BRAVIA off, but we recommend you keep it on - it really improves the image quality.
Video playback - only 3GP and MP4 welcome
There is no dedicated video player app on the Xperia ray as in most of the droids out there. Fair enough, maybe a fancy UI for picking a video is not that important, playing videos is what really counts. Well, that’s another disappointment – the video player supports only 3GP and MP4 videos.
To its credit, the Xperia ray did play a 720p MP4 video (but not 1080p). And the 3.3” FWVGA Reality screen offers excellent image quality (the BRAVIA engine comes into play here too) and spot-on aspect ratio, which compensates for the small size (a 3.2" HVGA screen would either show a smaller image or have to crop it).
If you re-encode your videos before hand, the Xperia ray can make a good PMP. Or you could just download a capable video player off the Android Market and make your life easier. This would address other deficiencies of the Xperia ray video player, like lack of subtitles.
Music player with handy Infinite button
The music player on the Xperia ray is the same app you get in the Arc and the Neo. The interface is laid out in four tabs for the available sorting options: all artists, all tracks, playlists and albums.
If you hit the menu key you’ll get a search shortcut, as well as send and delete options.
The Now Playing screen offers nothing but the standard music controls, shortcuts to the library and the Infinite key. The latter lets you quickly look up a song on YouTube or browse for the lyrics.
The music fans will appreciate the rich selection of equalizer presets. You also get Silent mode, which mutes all other sounds except for alarms - great for uninterrupted listening.
The only available visualization is the album art.
Much like the Gallery, the Music player on the Xperia ray lets you "like" tracks you're listening to, which posts it on your wall. Later on, you can discuss them with your friends through the Friends' music and videos app (sometimes called Media discovery). There's a widget too, so you can always be up to date with what you're friends are listening to.
FM radio with RDS, TrackID onboard too
The Sony Ericsson Xperia ray is also equipped with an FM radio, which has a really neat and simple interface. It automatically scans the area for the available stations and places “notches” on the frequency dial for easier scrolling to the next station. Or you can mark some of them as favorite.
The TrackID service is also available and works within the radio app.
Audio quality is decent
The Sony Ericsson Xperia ray audio output is decent, but strangely, slightly worse than that of the other Sony Ericsson smartphones that we have tested recently.
The output is especially convincing when you use the Sony Ericsson Xperia ray with an active external amplifier. As you can see from the table below it got great scores across the board in that scenario.
Unfortunately, there was quite significant degradation when we connected a pair of headphones, most notably in terms of stereo crosstalk and distortion. The crosstalk shot well above the average and distortion levels were no longer impressive. Plus, there was a drop in volume so this is not really a commendable effort on ray's behalf.
And here come the full results so you can see for yourselves:
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
Sony Ericsson Xperia ray frequency response
You can learn more about the whole testing process here.