Sony Ericsson XPERIA X2 review: Another one in
XPERIA Panels disappoint a bit
As Sony Ericsson have not gone for customizing the whole Windows UI, it's got a more vanilla look here as compared to what you can see on Samsung or HTC smartphones. Instead, Sony Ericsson have concentrated on developing the XPERIA Panels UI and have put quite a lot of effort into integrating it tightly with the WinMo OS.
There is no dedicated panels' hardware button as there was on the XPERIA X1. Instead there is a shortcut to a new Shortcuts menu. This menu is nicely touch-optimized, sort of a blend of the popular Sony Ericsson Media center and the Windows Mobile default homescreen.
The menu consists of seven items - Call history, Messages, Calendar, Media, PlayNow, Sony Ericsson Sync and Panels - most of them with plenty of subsections. The Media department will sure ring a bell for Sony Ericsson users. It collects all your pictures, music, videos and games and packs them into its own gallery, music and video players.
But the amazingly nice custom menu is quite shallow in places. For example when you start a new message or open a whole email, you are thrown back onto the less than pretty Windows Mobile interface.
The XPERIA panels is the last item on this menu and logically collects all the panels you have installed and allows you to browse them with finger sweeps. The panels can be set in a timeline switching automatically at scheduled times for user-defined intervals.
The XPERIA X2 comes with 10 panels preinstalled - the default Sony Ericsson Tilewave one, CNN, Facebook, Google panel, Growing Panel, WinMo default Today screen, SPB Mobile Shell, Pixel City and XPERIA Services one.
The CNN, Facebook and Google panels offer quick access to news, the Facebook application and the Google Search are self-explanatory, while the MS Today screen is the default WinMo 6.5 one we already discussed.
The Growing panel is similar to the old Fish one - there are some bugs and flowers, which display different status readings - missed calls, battery level, signal strength, etc. The Pixel City panel does just the same. Unfortunately all three of them look way worse that the original Fish panel.
The Tilwave panel is the default option in the bunch and displays flipping 3D squares, some of them empty - some of the with specific info - the weather, clock, alarms, RSS reader, a shortcut to Contacts, etc. Choosing any one of them will lead you to another similar field of squares. The effects are eye-catching and this panel successfully combines beauty and functionality without too many compromises.
The next preinstalled panel is the great SPB Mobile Shell. That panel was also available for download for the XPERIA X1, but Sony Ericsson have graciously preinstalled it on the X2.
It has two different views - lifestyle and work. Lifestyle mode combines three different homescreens where you can put a lot of widgets, along the lines of the Android UI. The beautiful wallpaper is easily seen through the transparent widgets. The professional view of the panel looks like an older version of the SPB Shell - clock, new events and a calendar.
Finally, the XPERIA Services panel can only be used after a free registration for XPERIA support. There are local support centers in many countries, along with online information. When choosing this panel you will gain shortcuts for both call and online support.