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Review Sony Ericsson K700
Sony Ericsson made a quite revolution after presenting the model T610 about a year ago, during this term the phone became bestseller around the world. It is still very popular, that’s why the manufacturer does not have enough power to satisfy the hunger.
With the year taken as interval Sony Ericsson presented new model – K700, which is targeted for youth, it is supposed to become same thing, as T610 was during its time. We’d like to point out that this phone is not successor to T610/T630 series, unlike the obvious function and feature similarity. From the marketing point of view this model is targeted for different segment, the design for youth can be taken as proof for this statement. The design however remains strict and stylish. The technical specifications are actually cut-off version of 3G phone - Z1010, the phone’s software speaks out for itself. More than that, existing firmware versions contain curious menu item – videocall, although in reality K700 has only one camera inside. In future other models from K-series will be released, they will differ with the functionality. But since K700 is the first phone from this line-up it plays important role, especially considering the fact that there are not any similar products from other manufacturers. The only competitor in this segment is Siemens CX65, but in reality it loses clearly comparing to K700, in terms of price and functionality.
The phone’s design is strict, two color solutions will be available - Optic Silver, Blue Tinted Silver. In both cases bigger part of the case is made in one color, only different is edging. In K700 designers decided to keep shape of other models, and introduced new elements as well. What has remained as legacy – its size: 99x46.5x19.5 mm. If you compare this model with Ò610/Ò630 you will notice that it’s 3mm lower and at the same time some mm wider. This does not affect convenience in terms of using though, the phone fits nicely into ones palm. The weight is 93 grams, this can be compared with previous models.
The keyboard is made of semi-transparent plastic, partly MATOVIJ, its color is white. The shape and key placement are similar to T630, designers were trying to achieve this effect on purpose. The keyboard’s backlight is white, symbols are clearly seen in all conditions. The phone’s ergonomics deserves a lot of various awards, it is very convenient and no problems are encountered. The key’s size and convenience affects the overall impression from the phone, it is very convenient.
Same thing can be said about the joystick, which is tight enough, the button is rather big. The joystick reacts to the presses, although accidental key press do not occur rapidly, this is a great advantage. Comparing to T610 the joystick’s size increased, that’s why a lot of people will find it easy to use.
A circle which is performed in another color is element of appearance, it is formed around the keyboard, it is clearly seen in darkness. This circle is rather symmetric to circle around the camera, which is located on the back side of the phone. At first it seems to be a simple solution, but in reality we get an attractive design element.
The screen can be considered as the most interesting part of new model. It is made on TFT-technology and can display up to 65000 colors. The screen has resolution of 176x220 pixels, which allows displaying up to 7 text lines and up to 3 text lines reserved for service needs. The screen’s quality is superb, the picture looks lively and sharp. If you compare the screen with Sony Ericsson Z600, T630 it is clear that K700’s is a lot better. This parameter is actually better than all models from Sony Ericsson, and a lot better than Nokia and Siemens phones (ST55/ST60 are similar, but they are purely ODM models). It is worse than the displays of the new shipments of v-series from Motorola (v300, v500, v600, v80, v400), it is not so bright. On the other hand the screen is one of the best on the market, it doesn’t have many competitors, especially in the form-factor of an ordinary mobile phone.
The screen turns slightly pale when it hits direct sunlight, the picture remains clear and visible even during spring sun, which is very bright.
Joined volume control button is located on left side, just above it a special key for camera is located. On the right side you can see special internet soft-key. Let’s move on to the upper part of handset. Power ON and OFF button is located on the top, IrDA is hidden under smooth plastic. On the bottom part of the phone you can see the interface connector, it is fully compatible with previous models. For the first time the company decided to introduce rubber cork for this port, it is attached to the case really solid. Those who experience inconvenience during its presence will be forced to cut it off. This will be required if you will decide to use desktop charger as well. Of course you can lean the cork on the right angle each time you will need to perform similar action, but removing it completely will be a better thing to do. On the whole the cover fits solid to the case, even after few weeks of using it remains still.
VGA-camera is located on the back side of the phone, a small mirror is located right next to it, on the left you can notice small flashlight. The company does not call this flashlight a flash, this device is used for backlight during process of taking pictures in complete darkness. With its help you can take pictures of objects located on close distance, about 30 centimeters.
The hole which can be seen above the lens was supposed to be used for the camera’s shutter. But just few moments before the official launch this feature was removed, because it affected loudspeaker badly, volume was decreasing.
The back cover is covering battery section. This model use Lithium Polymer battery BST-30, it is installed in such models as Sony Ericsson T230, Z200. Models T610/T630 use battery BST-25, which has slightly more capacity. In this case the battery has 670mAh capacity. The manufacturer claims that it can work up to 7 hours during talking and up to 300 hours in the stand by mode.
We decided to test similar ways of using the phone with K700 and T630. With 45 minutes of talks and up to one hour of Bluetooth usage, 20 minutes spent for other functions (games, calendar, backlight was always turned on) both phones managed to work for about two days. K700 worked for about 10-15 percent less than T630. The explanation is hidden behind different type of batteries, one of them (K700’s) is not as big as the other one. Seems that the company decided to decrease model’s weight and point out its youth status, differ it from the business models.
More interesting thing to do was testing the phone with usage of Radio, loudspeaker, short usage of IrDA, Bluetooth for file exchange. With 3-4 hours of listening to radio via headphones, up to 30 minutes spent for talks and about 25 minutes of other function usage the phone worked for about two days. Basically we used its features for 100%, there was no energy saving around. With not so much time for work this will be average time for all users. It takes around 1.5 hours for the phone to fully charge up.
Considering the screen’s quality, presence of loudspeaker we can come to the conclusion that the phone’s working time is typical enough for similar models. On the whole the phone looks very solid by this parameter.
SIM-card holder is standard, it does not have any lockers, passive construction is used. Take a look at the area which is marked with red arrow, in the upcoming T-series model it will be used for expansion card slot (MemoryStick Duo).
Before going on to the interface description, I would like to say some words about stereo headphone headset. Unfortunately manufacturers decided not to make separate port for the headphones, the plug itself is rather big, with time lockers can fall off. This situation was typical for headsets for other models which had same construction. The lack of separate port for headphones should be considered as disadvantage, especially since the cork is present, it should be leaned off every time you use the headphones.
The headset is convenient, it has special button for voice dialing, phone call decline.
Changes in the interface are noticed right after the phone is turned on for the first time. You will be introduced to your personal helper, who will help you setting up the phone. In several slides you will find out about main soft-keys, will be offered to enter date, time, copy entries from SIM-card into the phone’s memory. In the very beginning you are offered to choose menu language, on other phones this feature is not present right during the start. Pretty simple function, but the first time it got introduced is K700. Basically this helper can make the things better for newbie for whom K700 is first phone from Sony Ericsson. In future it can be left turned on every time the phone will be turned on, it is all up to you weather you need this function or no.
Allright, let’s imagine that the phone is turned on, you see usual T610 design, signatures for soft-keys. Let’s try to lean the joystick in one of the directions and see what will happen. The phone signalizes the fact that there is no shortcut for the earlier made action, and you are offered to bind one. For five minutes most usable functions will be assigned to joystick’s sides, and you will test how they work. Curious fact that during shortcut setup menu is presented in substrate view of shortcut’s icon.
The main menu is presented by four rows of icons, three in each row. Unlike the previous versions icons look prettier, they are better drawn. Most likely this is due to the higher screen’s resolution. In main menu manufacturers decided to review the animation, while moving from one item to other a circle which will highlight the current item will appear. Animation is extremely pleasant and is not annoying at all, even if you use the phone for long term. Surfing through the menu speed deserves separate praise, no slow downs, everything works surprisingly fast. The user can use shortcut number navigation in case he wants to, this way road to the required menu item will take only 1-2-3 seconds.
The input convenience remained on the same level, by pressing the # key you will bring up available language list, and be able to switch between them while text inputting.
That’s about it what can be said about interface’s changes. The manufacturer decided to take care of additional horizontal theme bookmarks. This means that now when you are in the call list menu, which is called by pressing the Call button, you will see not only the last dialed numbers but gain the ability to switch between bookmarks with last missed/received calls (horizontal joystick presses). In the phone’s menu such navigation is used in all possible places, it strongly simplifies usage of phone, menu’s ergonomics in this model is extremely high. I’d like to point out that similar horizontal panels present in the phone book, settings menu and several other menu items as well.
Camera. The phone has VGA-camera on board, it has 4x digital zoom function. Manufacturer points out the fact that the phone’s design is dual, on one hand we have a typical mobile phone and on the other (back side) a sort of digital camera. Considering this we come to the conclusion that the pictures can be taken with one hand, instead of two. Volume regulation button plays the role of zoom, and the separate button is used for shutter. Meanwhile the picture is displayed on the screen that plays the role of viewfinder.
Received pictures are automatically oriented in the required direction, this leaves you from mock with its rotation later. On the hole those, who is not used to hold the phone in such unusual way can take the pictures in old-school way. The interface is drawn vertically, which means that it is actually supposed to be used with standard shooting mode.
Presence of bookmarks can be considered as advantage. They allow quickly moving from one picture taking mode to another, as well as video capture. The phone can record video clips in 3GP format, sound will be recorded as well. The clips themselves look nicely on the screen, most likely due to the screen’s superb quality. They look even better than those who were recorded on Nokia 6230. Upload of video clip from Sony Ericsson K700 to Nokia 6230 showed that Nokia has worse screen, the clip was displayed worse, picture’s quality was not as good as expected. On the other hand such video clip quality can never be recalled as being good you can’t expect much from them. K700’s peculiarity is sensitive microphone, recorded sound’s volume while being played on PC is extremely loud. Video clip’s recording time for our firmware version was limited by 30 seconds, in future versions this limitation may be removed, in that case recording time will be limited only with the amount of available free memory.
Flashlight which is presented in this model is interesting when taking pictures on the distance of about 30 centimeters. In other conditions this feature is useless, although it can be used as flashlight.
The phone supports three picture resolutions, best of them is VGA, there are also few quality modes, picture compression (standard JPEG files). The phone has various effects and the ability to use night mode. From various effects such unique feature as panoramic shooting should be mentioned. In this mode you are doing first shot and you will see its image displayed on the screen, meanwhile part of the screen is white, it shows part of the taken picture. You are combining white part of the slide with the thing you see in the viewfinder and take the shot again, and again. As a result you get complex image, panorama. You can see a sample of such pictures here, its resolution is 1648x438 pixels. You don’t have to put any special effort in order to get this sort of picture, for example the sample was made during several seconds. And here is what can turn out in case you do not follow the rules of overlay one image over another. The picture turns into phantasmagoria. From artistic point of view such pictures contain certain amount of sense; I am sure that this process will be popular among a lot of young K700 users.
Received pictures can be used as wallpapers, it can be easily sent to any device with the help of IrDA or Bluetooth. They can be sent via MMS as well, either with the help of built-in e-mail client.
Picture viewing process can be made from Album, they are displayed as thumbnails, everything is pretty common.
Radio. The phone has a built-in FM tuner, it is the first phone with such function from Sony Ericsson. The phone’s memory can store up to 20 radio stations, the stereo headset that is shipped in every package plays the role of antenna. In case you are using auto-search the phone will find about 6-7 stations with the strongest signal’s coverage (at least it did it in Moscow) and store them in the memory. At the same time radio stations with weaker signal, but pretty suitable for listening will be skipped. They can be added into the list manually. This parameter is identical to Nokia phones, in which same problems are noticed.
Signal’s playback quality is rather high, the headset allows to set up almost any volume, maximal level is extremely loud, the music will suppress everything. The user can switch the radio into the loudspeaker mode, in this case people around will hear it as well. The radio’s volume is pretty high.
Unfortunately all control is made from the phone’s keyboard. Channel switch which are stored in the memory – joystick’s vertical movement. You can regulate the volume with the help of side-buttons. In case you want to turn off the radio and move on to other menu item’s functions you will have to minimize it the way you are doing it on your desktop pc. In order to have the ability of changing channels again you will have to call Radio mode again. In minimized condition appropriate icon will appear.
Brief impressions from the radio can be described as positive, this phone’s parameter is interesting, more than that, it offers quality realization. The radio is not worse than in Nokia’s products and this speaks out for a lot of things, as well as the fact that the radio works in stereo mode.
File manager, amount of memory. The manufacturer decided to announce the fact loudly that the phone has 32 Mb of memory on board, but in reality we face the fact that the user can use about 42 Mb of free space, on which his data, files (pictures, video clips, applications) can be stored. Remaining memory is occupied with pre-installed applications, which you cannot delete. Part of phone’s memory is used as phonebook, call list etc.
The phone also gained simple file manager, with its help you can sort files into various folders, create directories in the phone’s memory and store files in them. Using internal memory for file storage is impossible, the phone declined storing files with unknown extensions. But if you rename the file (its extension) it will be easily stored in the phone’s memory. Meanwhile when we tried to view it, it lead to error; however the phone did not freeze and continued working. In future you will be able to send files via IrDA and Bluetooth in near future. Basically we face the fact that the phone can be used as file storage for very important files.
Presence of file manager makes the life significantly easier, with its help you can sort out loads of pictures, prepare them for transferring process to PC. The phone still has the same problems like T610 and T630 had – pictures are taking up twice as much memory as they do when they are already on your PC. Most likely this is due to the peculiarities of file system’s organization. Curious fact that when you are viewing properties for the picture, you will see correct information about picture’s size, but if you look at the free memory amount, it will be decreased twice as much after taking the picture. Since there is a lot of free memory to use this problem is not actual.
Player. The phone has built-in mp3 file player, as well as 3GP. This function came from Sony Ericsson Z1010, which had support of exchangeable memory cards, in that case this feature had sense. Here the memory is enough for keeping 20 minutes of poor mp3 file sound quality, there is no use of creating playlists. At the same time player is actually a nice tool for listening to mp3 files, the phone can be used for file storage, you can store one or two songs in very good quality. This is the only use for using the player, it can not be used as alternative to mp3 player.
Equalizer setup is present among the other settings (Bass, Voice, Tremble etc), as well as the ability of creating your own settings. Depending on these settings the sound will actually change, this is noticeable.
Phone book. Functional possibilities of the phonebook remind ones for Sony Ericsson T610, but the interface was redone. For example, one entry can be associated with several phone numbers, e-mail address, other contact information. In settings you can choose the required fields, as well as sorting by various fields including name, surname, but the input field remains single. Such sorting is important only while transferring data from PC, for phone’s entries it’s actually useless. For separate names you can setup custom ring tones and own picture, while the incoming call you will hear the custom ring tone, as well as chosen image.
While information input you are free to scroll between bookmarks, on the first one phone number entering and their sorting according to types. Actually this organization reminds Outlook for some reason, it is convenient. Ability to add voice dialing to separate numbers stored under one name was introduced as well, there can be up to 40 of them in total. If you remember, earlier on voice dialing was supported only for 1 name, and you had to make additional voice dialing bookmarks for other phones stored under the same contact.
While viewing the phone book you can scroll the numbers by the horizontal joystick’s keypress, as well as watching other information. Of course the default number will be bind by you.
Traditionally the company believes that SIM-card and its memory will be used only in emergency situations, and not for storing information continuously. Viewing the entries on the SIM-card is possible from the separate menu item, they are not displayed in the common entry list.
Messages. All functions are basic for messages, templates and ability to create your own ones are present. For messages storing phone’s memory as well as SIM-card’s is used. Chat function is supported, on the whole I can say that the features are pretty common for any other phone. Appeared emoticons should be mentioned as well, they are made on a new quality level, and support youth part of the phone.
MMS realization deserves to be mentioned as well, you can actually create clips, there are a lot of settings and it is not hard to use them, a truly unique quality that other phones lack.
E-Mail client supports sending and receiving messages, all possible encodings are supported.
In this menu Instant Messaging is present as well, sort of ICQ analogue, this technology becomes popular really fast and by the time K700 will be released it will be demanded by a number of users.
Call list. In common list you will see up to 30 entries with date and time assigned to each. Near each of them an icon will explain to what type of call it refers (missed, received, dialed). Besides this in common list additional icons are present, they show if the phone number is present in the phone’s memory, or SIM-card’s. The list of missed calls can be viewed separately, it can store up to 10 entries. In the same menu item information about cost and length of last, all calls can be viewed. Moving through the separate lists can be made with the help of bookmarks, this actually saves your time greatly.
Entertainment. This menu item contains access to picture album, list of music files. Function MuiscDJ is interesting, although it is rather niche and will not be in demand around most of users. In this editor you can create your own ring tones and edit up to 4 tracks.
In case you are creative person you can use graphical editor, in it you can draw simple pictures. Sometimes with its help time flies, but in most cases this function is useless.
Organizer. In organizer menu a lot of functions are stored at once, first of all – let’s review the calendar. There are three types of event view, monthly, weekly and daily. In last case you see the list of all things to do and reminders, in two other modes you will notice the highlighted time with events or the day. Fast transfer to the required year, day and month is present. Everything is pretty simple and traditional, as well as schedule entry. Basically you get the chance to choose one of the 6 icons assigned to the action type, specify the place where it will occur, length and setup reminder (beforehand or in the entered time). I was unable find a way to setup reoccurrence rate, in my samples this feature was not present at all. From the editing menu for separate events you can choose another time and date, and that’s it. Reminders work even if the phone is turned off, in case you turn on this function in the settings menu. Pleasant peculiarity of this model is that you can turn on/off automatic switch of profiles after the event had occurred, as well as return to the earlier set profile after the event is over. Basically we get analogue of Time Profile function in Nokia’s phones.
To do list of rather ascetic, only two modes of events, call or reminder. On the other hand this is pretty enough, simplicity has its own advantages as well.
The phone has fully-functional search, which is organized for calendar, you just enter the words (or part of it) and after few seconds see all events which suit for the searched words. Function works very fast even if there are more than 100 entries, fast teleportation to the event is supported as well.
The phone has normal support of sending files to different devices (like always – IrDA, Bluetooth). You just choose the required interval (day, week, or month) and send all entries. I’d like to point out the fact that receiving device must support PIM function in order to receive and display these data files correctly. When we tried to send our own schedule to TV-set it was successful, although it could not be displayed (via IrDA). Same thing can be sent from your office or desktop PC without any additional software for synchronization.
Notes. The phone supports recording short text notes, in common list first word from each is displayed. This is not always convenient since you have to enter every note with “marker word”., in order to understand what it is all about.
Alarm clocks. The phone has single as well as reoccurring alarm clock, which can be setup by the defined days of week. The alarm clocks will work even if the phone is turned off.
Countdown timer. Everything is pretty simple here, although same thing can be said about the stop-watch, it supports intervals. The phone has code storage, which was loved by many, working with calculator became more convenient.
Connectivity. From here you can setup all communication settings of the phone starting with WAP, GPRS and ending with Bluetooth as well as synchronization. The standard usage will not be mentioned, it is pretty obvious, everything works. The stability of Bluetooth should be mentioned though, no problems were encountered, synchronization with devices runs smoothly, all profiles are supported.
The very same menu allows setting up local and external synchronization, everything is pretty common as well.
WAP. The browser was given separate menu item’s sport, its version is 2.0 and it supports secured transfers, which is important for electronic transactions. With the help of browser you can download new wallpapers, themes, ring tones, everything is available on the original web-site.
Settings. Basically all settings related to the work with the phone are stored here, partly with the appearance of screens. I will not describe this menu item, since everything is way too common. The presence of updated themes should be mentioned though, they actually differ the appearance nicely.
Java. The phone supports Java (MIDP 2.0), as well as 3D-engine, which allows launching truly three-dimensional games. I will say that they are rather interesting and are launched rather fast. Subjective impression from usual games available for T610 as well witness the fact that K700 works with Java applications faster.
Another phone's exclusive feature is the possibility of enlarging the screen for the games, that actually also expands the list of the games to be played.
The network receiving quality is perfect, everything works stable. The speaker’s volume was increased, now it is enough in almost all conditions, discos are not included. For the first time Sony Ericsson used loudspeaker in such phone (segment). Another advantage is presence of big amount of free memory, it allows playing mp3 files and recording video clips with sound as well as taking panoramic pictures. The screen is perfect.
Vibrating alert’s power is average, no changes were made comparing to the previous models. Interesting fact that the phone has 40 chord polyphonic ring tones instead of 32 chord in Ò610/Ò630. Saying that the phone sounds better is impossible, unless you compare it with the very same T610, ring tones sound nicer. Without such compare it is impossible to define the difference, it is transparent and can be noticed only on few melodies. On the whole comparing polyphony with Korean manufacturer’s products who have 40 chord polyphonic ring tones as well I come to the conclusion that it is very nice, in melodic and volume terms. It is better than phones from Nokia, Siemens and Motorola have.
Considering the presence of almost all possible technologies, except for exchangeable memory card slot (otherwise we would face high price for this model). In reality the price set by the manufacturer is pretty democratic and shows the will of manufacturer to sell this phone exactly to youth segment (this does not mean that youth do not have money). The model will got for sale from the beginning of summer, probably June or beginning of July for some countries. The wholesale price will be around 260 euros, depending on the percent which will added by the distributor the price will range for end-user. I do not think that K700’s price will be higher than 350-375 euros after 1 month of sales. The most suitable price will be set in November, it will be around 240-260 Euros. Considering the amount of present functions I will say that this phone will not have any direct competitors. Although Siemens CX65 will apply for this role, it has the same price. But in its case we see the lack of Bluetooth, worse screen, less amount of memory, less voice tags, the list can be added with lots of terms.
The lack of competitors will allow fixing the price at high level, then we will see the situation which exists around T610 happening again. The manufacturer decreases wholesale prices, but is not able to satisfy hunger for the device. As a result distributors are not decreasing the price, instead they are fixing them on high level and receiving overprofits.
I’d like to point out that this model is important, once again it sets new quality standard, this time for youth phones. I will allow myself quoting part of T610 review which was published on 9th of March, 2003. In it I predicted price change for T610 as well as appearance of successor to this model. Here is the quote: «It is expected that the phone will be available in the end of May, but we think that it will go on sale in the end of May – beginning of June. An expected price will be 450-500 Euro, later in would be 420-440. This phone will be the a good Christmas present, at that time it would cost about 300 Euro in most of European countries.
Such a low price will be real if there is a revised version T610i or Christmas Edition. It would cost 50 dollars more than a based phone version, but it would have a TFT color screen and Instant Messaging support.Pay attention that it’s not an official information, but only our presumption».
I’d like to make another traditional prediction, which may actually turn out real, as well as description of T630’s appearance, the only mistake I’ve made was release term, the company decided not to release this model by Christmas since T610’s sales were really high.
In September we will see T-series model, it will be built on the same platform as K700. The improvements will be concluded in presence of exchangeable memory cards (hotswap will be supported), camera will turn into 1.3mpx one. The manufacturer will most likely claim that this model will have around 64mb of memory on board. The price will range from 360-370 Euros for wholesale buyers. Form-factor will remain the same, color and designer’s solution will be similar to T610.
Let’s find out if my predictions will come true or no, it is always interesting to suppose what will happen tomorrow.
Published 01 April 2004
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