Reviewer: Valens Quinn
More than just a phone
The Sony Ericsson K800i finally fits the definition of a true camera phone hybrid device. Apart from being a fully capable 3G phone, with all the bells and whistles that you’d expect, the K800i is quite a good little camera too.
To take a photo, you turn the K800i on its side, more like a conventional camera. And unlike most camera phones, which can only capture around 1.3 megapixels of detail, the K800i handles 3.2 million pixels. This means photos that you might actually want to add to your album, and they print out quite well as 8 x 10s. Also, the K800i has auto-focus, 16x digital zoom, an image stabilizer and a xenon flash to help you get that winning shot. The flash pulses light like a regular camera, and is considerably brighter than the other methods of flashes used on camera phones, so you can actually capture the action at night. It also does a bang-up job on reducing red eye.
There are other photo modes that you wouldn’t expect in a camera phone, such as Panorama, which helps you stitch together wide images, plus the BestPic feature. This is essentially a ‘burst’ mode, which captures four shots before you press the shutter button and four shots afterwards. You can then select the best photo of the lot to keep.
And once you’ve taken your snaps, the K800i offers a unique ‘picture blog’ feature that saves your best work to a web address. You can then send your friends and family online to share your memories.
The only downside to being able to take such detailed images is that they take a bit of time to transfer via the Bluetooth wireless connection, as file sizes are just under one megabyte per shot. (You can reduce the photo file size, but then you’d lose detail.) Fortunately, a handy USB 2.0 cable is included for a direct, faster connection. You can also print directly to any PictBridge compatible printer.
For a little fun, the PhotoDJ and VideoDJ software make it fairly easy to edit your work, and there’s a clever little Face Warp tool for distorting faces – so you can make your friends look like aliens and circus freaks.
And as a phone?
The K800i is a compact ‘candy bar’ style phone, so it doesn’t have a flip close feature. It has a small numeric keypad beneath the two inch colour display. The buttons are quite small, and some are not so easy to distinguish between when typing text messages. However, the key action is fairly good once you get used to it. A joystick makes navigating the attractive menus quite easy, and the screen is very sharp. There are direct buttons for deleting text, photos and videos, returning to the main menu and hopping on the net. For protecting the camera’s lens, a cover slides across it, and this also initiates the camera for grabbing that quick shot.
In terms of business use, you can use the ‘push’ email facility for keeping up with emails, plus standard SMS and MMS messaging is included. A handy feature is the RSS feed reader, so you can stay in touch with your favourite blogs and articles.
On the music front, a built-in radio is included for passing the time, plus MP3 music is supported. The MusicDJ lets you create your own polyphonic ring tones with MIDI drum, guitar, keyboard, bass and brass loops. You can also use MP3 tracks for ringtones. On the video front, you can watch recorded clips, not to mention stream video from your telco provider.
The K800i comes with an assortment of 3D games, plus there’s Java support so you can download and play most Java games. FotoQuest fishing, where you explore underwater scenes to photograph rare fish, Mini Golf Castles, a cute 3D mini-golf tournament, and SEGA’s WTA Tour tennis are included.
An interesting feature is that the K800i can double as a wireless mouse pointer, for use when you’re making presentations from your computer. I tried it with my Bluetooth-enabled MacBook Pro, and it worked fairly well. The joystick handles the mouse directions and the keypad doubles as a selection of keys for starting and stopping the media player, or right and left click buttons.
Ultimately, the K800i is the kind of phone that leaves you asking for little. It’s compact, well designed, has a good screen, a fantastic camera and plenty of features. There’s even a handy flight mode so you can still play games, listen to music or take photos when you’re on a plane. In terms of connectivity, it works with 3G networks, is a tri-band phone for using in other countries, and supports Bluetooth for connecting to headsets, computers and other phones. As for battery life, you’ll get about two and a half hours of talk time when using a 3G network, with around 350 hours of standby time. When on lower speed networks like GPRS and GSM, you’ll get more talk time.
All in all, if you’re looking for a fully featured, state-of-the-art phone, the K800i certainly has what it takes.