Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sony Ericsson Z610i

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
~Arthur C. Clark
To keep my mental health in a more manageable state, and also to provide sufficient scaling in the years to come when my phone number would probably be distributed of hundreds of young people, I decided I needed to get a new handphone. My first preference would be an SE phone, due to the superior user-interface design (:P) of the SE phone I got last year. Angie happened to be free so we went to a downtown Singtel shop. I'd already done research on the Internets and decided to get the Z610i.

It was only when the Singtel guy inserted the battery that I experienced what Clark meant. The last time I had that feeling was then Steve Jobs did the 'expanding movement' with his thumb and forefinger to zoom into a picture in his iPhone.

For the Z610i, the magic is in the organic light-emiting diode (OLED) display at the front of the chassis. I knew that Sony had already used this in their little MP3 thingies for quite a while already, but I hadn't seen the actual product before. The display looks like surreal little pixels floating inside the glassy plastic. Magical.

The display shows the clock and other information. The icon that looks like the contour lines of a rounded hill represents 3G reception. I have no idea why. If you play music, the display changes too...

The finishing of the chassis is wonderful too. A reviewer describes it as having the 'the look of a drop of mercury over a pebble'. This seems just about right. I remember what mercury looks like from science classes, and the metallic finishing looks almost exactly like it. Then again, it's actually plastic, not metal. Reminds me of the 'is the metal chassis of the Palm Zire actually plastic?' debate years ago.

Sony Ericsson is an interesting company to watch. They were almost goners a few years ago before joining up with Sony. And then suddenly they were making great phones that had the design, the UI, and the backing of quite solid manufacturing materials; my impression is that the plastics they use were better than the competitors. (The materials used for the Z610i is quite out of this world!) And they've been doing really well recently. Anyway, this phone is available for students at $99, supposedly until Feb 16.

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