Ever since rumours and pictures of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz emerged, albeit under the Kurara nametag, everyone was hooked. Thankfully, Sony Ericsson only left us waiting a couple of months before the official announcement came. On January 21st the Sony Ericsson Vivaz was revealed to the world. By this time there was little in the press release that hadn’t already been discussed, realistically all that was left to do was to get some hands on action!
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz represents a few firsts for the company, not only is it Sony Ericsson’s first multimedia handset release of 2010, but it is also the first to sport the ‘human curvature’ design that will be adopted across the new range. If this design concept passed you by, what Sony Ericsson has done is curve the outer casing of the phone so that it fits perfectly and comfortably into the human hand, making it far easier to get more one-handed action out of the touchscreen. Despite being plastic the casing doesn’t look or feel cheap, perhaps that has something to do with the sleek edging, curved design and smudge free surface, whatever it is the Sony Ericsson Vivaz will undoubtedly captivate its audience.
Similarities can be made between the Vivaz and the Sony Ericsson Satio, for starters they’re both big hitters on the multimedia side of things and both target similar areas in the market. Design-wise they couldn’t be further apart, with the Vivaz weighing about 36grams less than the Satio, and let’s not forget those rounded edges; we know which is the more pocket-friendly out of the two. But moving away from comparisons, the Vivaz has its own strengths. The rather, in-your-face camera bezel on the back of the handset gives some hint to what the standout feature could be, not the camera, so to speak more like what can be done with it. The Vivaz packs an 8.1megapixel snapper and carries a mass of features. Naturally it has auto focus and touch capture, there’s 4xDigital Zoom on offer and a few added extras for optimal experience, these include face detection, geo tagging, image stabiliser, smile detection, photo light and send to web. Picture quality overall is very impressive, images are vibrant and saturated. To the average human eye, (not a photo boff) it would be hard going to tell the difference between images caught on the Vivaz and it’s 12megapixel sibling the Satio.
Sony Ericsson has made no secret about the Vivaz’s key feature, 720p HD video recording. Video resolution is stunning, and capture is fluid. The video set-up is the same as on the Satio and a simple double tap will bring up a sidebar with all the recording, editing and distribution tools, the Vivaz has integrated YouTube and Picasa apps so users can upload videos straight away. Recording time is limited, but to around 30-40 minutes, a figure I don’t think many will reach. Video capture and playback can be switched between portrait and landscape modes while full screen viewing provides a T.V like experience. There are also two dedicated hardware keys on the outer casing, one for image capture, the other for video recording.
The Vivaz features a rather impressive 16 million colour, 3.2 inch screen with a resolution of 360×640. An accelerometer covers orientation and given that it is a resistive screen Sony Ericsson has included a stylus, which, as with the Satio is attached via a lanyard. The screen itself is pretty responsive, and the Symbian OS (S60 5th Edition) is renowned for finger friendly use; odds are the stylus won’t make it out of the box unless you’re into handwriting messages. There are a number of messaging options onboard, hopefully catering for each individual need. For the stylus users there’s handwriting recognition and a mini QWERTY keyboard while finger pokers have the option of a full landscape QWERTY or alpha numeric keypad. The user interface is the same five-panel screen as on the Sony Ericsson Satio, albeit with a few updates here and there and a bit of extra graphic juice. Navigation is quick and responsive, a light finger swipe is all that is required to travel through the various menus and the middle key still holds the ever useful task manager panel.
Whilst the main focus for the Sony Ericsson Vivaz is multimedia, the company has made sure it is still a great all-rounder. Most connectivity bases are covered by 3G with HSDPA and HSUPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and assisted GPS. As with the Satio, Sony Ericsson has decided to stick with the move to MicroSD storage and to assure full commitment even throw an 8GB card in the box. MicroUSB has been implemented into the design, making data transfers and charging efforts far easier. They’ve even got smart with the headphones providing the 3.5mm audio jack we’ve been longing for.
The Sony Ericsson Vivaz is a natural all-rounder; it could happily sit in the multimedia category, social networking space and is a fierce competitor as an easy to use smartphone.