The phonebook interface has undergone several changes with the introduction of the three soft keys. Now, in contacts you can directly open any contact with the center soft key. The old More key is renamed Options and is now on the left side, while in old models, it was inevitably stuck in the right. The third soft key corresponds to "back". Another practical use of the middle soft key is the Send Message option, available when a contact is open and a number is highlighted. A new feature is the Smart Search, which lists all available contacts in the phonebook starting with the digits typed in the standby screen. The search engine looks for both a combination of letters in names and a phone number that starts with exactly the same digits entered. This function is well known in Windows Mobile based devices, and we even saw it in Samsung E950. Here in K850 it can also be switched off if not needed. Also present is the Send All Contacts option, that transfers the entire phonebook to another compatible Sony Ericsson device. Now, apart from sending the phonebook via Bluetooth, it is supposedly possible to transfer "as text message", "as picture", and "as email" too. However, we were unable to test these options, as they were "currently unavailable". We managed to successfully transfer a phone book of about 500 entries, each one with multiple numbers, emails and other data to a Sony Ericsson T650 in 7 minutes.
As usual, you can choose whether the SIM contacts or the phone contacts should be default for the phonebook. Displaying both lists simultaneously is impossible. Otherwise, a nice option allows you to auto save to SIM any new contacts that you're saving in the phone memory. The maximum capacity of the phonebook is 1000 contacts but you can save up to 5000 phone numbers. Contacts can be ordered by First or Last name. They are searched by gradual typing of the desired name.
When adding a new contact, there are several phone number fields available: Mobile, Mobile (private), Mobile (work), Home, Work, Fax and Other. This is the first tab of fields for the new contact. The second one is for email and web addresses. The third is for assigning a picture, a custom ringtone and a voice command. The fourth goes for Title, Company, Street, City, State, ZIP, Country information. The last, fifth tab, is for additional information and birth date. When you add the birth date, the phone asks you whether you would like to add it to the calendar and set a reminder for it, which we found out to be a handy feature.
The Calls log is divided into four different tabs. They are: All, Answered (Received), Dialed and Missed. The maximum number of records is 30 altogether, shared between the separate tabs. When there are several calls made to a single contact, only the last call gets recorded.
Among the new enhancements are Manage Messages, Manage Email, plenty of settings for accounts, and assigning categories to messages. All messages, except emails, use one Inbox. No matter what kind of message has been received, it goes to the shared Inbox. Only email messages have their own dedicated Inbox.
However, you may opt to sort messages to category list, if you previously had defined a specific category for each message. Six of them come preinstalled: Business, Favorites, Follow Up, Fun, Holiday, Important, but categories are fully customizable as well. If sorted by category, a big icon with an Inbox By Category tag appears instead of the standard small Inbox icon. Under it the categories are displayed, but only the ones with messages are shown, which is convenient. You can also delete all messages in a given category. However, there is a glitch in the system - in the general inbox there is no indication if a message has been assigned a category. The same holds true for messages that are opened. In an open message the applied category can be viewed or changed by pressing options -> category.
Another new thing is the Manage Messages application located in the Messaging section. It consists of three tabs. The first one is All Items, There's also an On Mem. Card and an In Phone tab, each including Drafts, Inbox, Outbox, Saved messages, and Sent messages folders. The options menu allows messages to be moved to memory card or phone memory, arranged by categories, date, size, and contact as well as other functions. Generally Manage Messages, together with Categories, offers wide-ranging customization options and improved message handling.
When typing a message, there is a character counter, which would alert you when you get close to the 160-symbol limit. The T9 dictionary goes without saying. Although the K850 has a standard phone keypad, its email client supports dozens of settings and all types of encodings, inherent to more complicated messaging devices. Again, for the email there is a separate Manage email application, with the same structure and features as the one for SMS, we've already discussed.
If we have to pinpoint the major novelty in the phone, it should be the Media Center. It is important enough to have a dedicated shortcut on the left soft key in standby. The interface, with its totally renovated dark-blue design, reminds of Sony PSP.
|If we have to pinpoint the major novelty in the phone, it should be the Media Center. It is important enough to have a dedicated shortcut on the left soft key in standby. The interface, with its totally renovated dark-blue design, reminds of Sony PSP.|
The Media center menu lists the Photo, Music, Video, and Settings icons. The current pick is highlighted and the count of included files is displayed. The Media Center is also accessible through the sixth icon in the main menu. The settings menu is simple - you may opt for portrait, landscape or auto rotate screen orientation, thanks to the integrated motion senzor. It would've been nice to have at least a basic set of customizable features like, for example, sorting files according to their size. Anyway, if you're very particular about track order, you can always rely on custom playlists.
Sony Ericsson K850 is equipped with Music Player 3.0, which is almost the same as the newly announced version 3.0 of the Walkman player to be seen in Sony Ericsson W910. The player supports MP3, AAC, and AAC+, E-AAC +, WAV, WMA, M4A and MIDI file formats and sports the MegaBass equalizer preset. The player can naturally be set to run in the background. Sound is audible, crisp and even - as long you're using the player with a good headset, that is. Further on, the K850 comes with stylish light effects to make listening to music on the handset even more enjoyable. If you are not willing to use the media player step-by-step structure, you can directly play a file through the file manager with its classic flat tree structure.
The video player, previously found in the entertainment sector, is now accommodated in the media center as well. This time it supports fast-forwarding. The interface is simple but stylish, although it fails to impress from a functional point of view. Much like the W910, the Sony Ericsson K850 has a built-in motion sensor allowing the video player to auto rotate. Again, the video files are accessible via the file manager, but there you cannot opt to auto rotate the file according to the screen orientation, which we found a bit odd.
The third application in the Media Center is the Photo gallery. It consists of: Latest Photo, Camera Album, Photo Tags, Photo Feeds, and Pictures. Latest Photo provides quick access to most recent photos. Camera Album is a thumb list for each month of the year. When a month is open, it reveals a 4x3 grid of thumbs of photos. Scrolling down shows all the photos taken in the corresponding month. The highlighted photo is a bit larger for a better browsing experience. The Pictures section opens again as a 4x3 grid of thumbs with non-camera images, as the preinstalled wallpapers. When exiting the full screen view of a picture, it smoothly zooms out to thumb view.
Generally, the Photo gallery is a powerful tool for conveniently managing a vast collection of camera photos with great customization capabilities. Photo Tags is a new feature for displaying previously marked favorite photos. The Up key on the D-pad offers quick access to sending options like: send as Picture Msg, as email, to blog, via Bluetooth. Other than that, you can set a photo as wallpaper, screen saver, startup screen, and contact picture straight from the gallery. There is a new option called Pan and Zoom and an amazing slideshow revealed when you further scroll down the submenu. Pan and zoom is a menu shortcut to the familiar zoom view mode in other Sony Ericsson phones. Slideshows in K850 are just amazing - before they start you are asked to pick a mood and the handset plays the animated slide shows with background music to suit the chosen mood. The transition style of the slideshow also varies according to the mood.
Accordingly, picture browsing via the classic file manager is still possible, but kind of pushed aside with the timeline view missing. This is quite a pity, having in mind, that T650 and K810 have it.
Editing a photo in PhotoDJ is just the same nice experience with the available rich options.
You can zoom in to the actual size of the picture or even beyond. That would be useless though, especially given the available megapixel count. Extreme zooming in won't really reveal more details. All you'd get are smudged spots as a result of the interpolation. We were pleased to find that viewing images one by one didn't involve any lags at all. The high-res photo loaded immediately, which was not the case with picture browsing in K810 or T650. However, when you are zooming in your pictures the phone preloads a lower quality preview.
The integrated FM radio of the Sony Ericsson K850 has memory for 20 preset stations and supports RDS.