The Sony Ericsson Aino is a media-centric slider, which doesn't differ much from high-end Sony Ericsson feature phones. But it's also a touchscreen device and gives users the extra option of handling media by touch. Keeping options open is always welcome and yes, we did think at first, that touch could be a nice bonus. Touchscreen is king on today's market but you'll never hear us say the Aino would've been better off if it was a full-touch device. But to be perfectly honest, touch could've been better implemented.
And before we start the tour, let us warn you about one of the biggest faults of the Touch Media application - the abysmal refresh rates. Every time you swap memory cards, the Aino's Touch Media will take about ten minutes to update its library. This isn't the case at all in the non-touch Media Center. And things get even uglier: without a memory card inserted it still takes 10 minutes to refresh the inbuilt memory, which isn't nearly as big.
But before we get to our UI description, you may want to check our demo video.
The new media menu is accessible only when the keypad is closed. It consists of five icons - camera, gallery, music, video and FM radio. There is no back button in the media menu. If you want to go back in the menus, you must touch on a blank spot on the screen. It's an obvious attempt of Sony Ericsson to keep the styling of icons and menus consistent across their product range - from phones to gaming consoles.
The camera icon throws you directly into the viewfinder. The gallery gives you access to all the images on the handset: albums are displayed by default in timeline view. Thanks to the capacitive screen, browsing thumbs is very smooth and fast. Tapping on any of the thumbs will open the selected picture full screen. Scrolling full-screen images with finger sweeps is very fluid too. Still, the touch gallery is nothing revolutionary. There's no kinetic scrolling and multi-touch support - even if it's a capacitive screen.
There are four available options in full screen view - send, edit, zoom and delete. Zooming is nicely done by a dedicated virtual zoom bar at the bottom of the screen, but it's really slow.
The music section has one sub-menu with four buttons - Resume, Newly Added, Albums and Playlists. As you may have guessed - the last two have their own sub-menus in turn, with album icons or various playlists.
The video section has similar layout as the music department - the available options here are Resume, Newly Added, Videos and Camera album.
The touch audio and video players look almost the same. There are three standard control buttons - previous, next and play/pause. The video player has also send and delete as additional options.
While the music player is running and the screen is locked an indicating red line appears at the bottom. If you touch there, the media controls will appear for a while, which is quite handy.
The FM radio has new touch optimized user interface and looks very good. Frankly, it may well be the best UI among mobile FM receivers.
There is an interesting thing to note about the FM receiver. It's embedded directly into the Bluetooth handsfree, not in the handset itself. This is quite handy, as you don't need anything plugged into the phone.