Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 preview: First look
Music player is pretty basic
The music player on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 is the same as on the X10 mini – and that didn’t impress us much. It manages your audio files decently but there is very little extra functionality.
There are still no equalizer presets preinstalled, nor any alternative skins.
There isn’t even gradual typing for searching a specific song this time so you will have to use the kinetic scrolling or opt for artist sorting. At least there are three smart playlists that automatically gather your newly added, most played and never played tracks.
When you unplug the headset, the music automatically pauses – hit play and it will continue playing on the loudspeaker.
The best bit about the player is the Infinite button that allows you to quickly look up a song on YouTube or in PlayNow. You could also use TrackID to sample music and find out track and artist info along.
3MP camera seems low for an XPERIA
The camera on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 has been downgraded compared to its Android siblings. It’s a fixed-focus 3MP camera with a maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels.
The camera interface is as simple as it gets with three buttons in total. There is a camera/camcorder switch, a gallery button and scene mode switch. The four available scene presets include Twilight, Sports, Landscape and, of course, Auto.
That’s all the interface there is – you don’t even get a settings menu (so, you can’t change the image resolution for example). But if you go into Settings (the Android settings menu that is), Application Settings and Camera, you can enable/disable geotagging.
Not that there’s much to tune on a 3MP fixed focus snapper. And if the photos turn out ok with minimum user interaction – well, that’s not a bad thing.
However, the image quality is not good enough even by 3MP standards. The noise reduction is way too aggressive and turns foliage into green smudges. Contrast and colors seem OK though and there’s still time till the XPERIA X8 gets launched. Sony Ericsson might be able to tweak the settings and squeeze some more image quality out of it.
VGA video recording
Even though the still imaging capabilities on the XPERIA X8 were demoted, video capture is intact. The camcorder manages VGA video at 30 frames per second – you didn’t expect HD video, did you?
The interface of the camcorder is similar to the one on the still camera – you can set the video quality to default or MMS mode. That’s all the settings available.
Videos shot with the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 are at VGA resolution and you get a relatively good output. We'd wait for sunny weather before we pass judgment on detail but overall, the video turn out nice and the 30fps make for smooth playback.
Here’s a Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 camera sample video – VGA@30fps.
Web browser needs Flash support
The Android OS comes with an excellent WebKit-based browser and the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 does not make an exception. The browser is unchanged from what we saw on the X10 mini, but the bigger screen and resolution let it shine.
The user interface is rather minimalist – by default all the controls are hidden. But when you scroll or pan, the virtual zoom keys and the overview key show up for a little while before fading out again.
Unfortunately, the browser on the X8 mini supports only a single zoom method – the dedicated onscreen buttons. There is no double tap or one-finger zooming. Which is strange – the Gallery app supports one finger zooming (you tap and hold then slide up or down to zoom in/out). This isn’t a final version we’re testing, so maybe Sony Ericsson will add this feature by launch time.
On the positive side, the browser supports text re-flow – as soon as you zoom, columns of text adjust to fit the screen width.
The UI is minimalist but it still offers enough functions. Hit the menu key and four keys pop up – Go button, tabs button, favorites and more options.
Flash is the infamous absentee on the X8 browser. Flash 10.1 is available for Android 2.2 Froyo but it’s another matter when the XPERIA X8 will be updated – we’re still waiting for those 2.1 Eclair updates.
Anyway, the YouTube app handles the video viewing part of the Flash experience. Even on sites that have embedded YouTube players, you’ll see the preview snapshot of the video and tapping the Play button will launch the video player.