The Sony Ericsson P900 is the updated mobile phone/PDA of the older P800. And let me just start off by saying it’s very different.
I thought to myself after the P800 that I would probably never buy another convergent product again. The P800 was such a relative disappointment that I was pretty put off from these devices again. I think I’ve always said that the problem with convergent devices is that they never tend to do any specific thing well but try too often to do too much and end up doing everything poorly. That was certainly true with the P800. It was an average phone at best and a terrible PDA. So with this in mind, I approached the P900 with quite a bit of trepidation.
Initially, I was drawn to the P900 because it seemed to be better designed. In addition, it seemed to have a significant amount of improvement in both software and features. The real kicker was of course the improvement in screen quality to a full 64k color screen versus the older 4k screen. Although the software was relatively the same, there seemed to be an improvement of the Symbian system. We’ll get into that a bit later.
I’ve had my Sony Ericsson T610 for such a long time that when the first new Sony Ericsson came out (the Z600), I immediately bought one without too much hesitation. But less than 2 weeks after that, the P900 was released. I felt somewhat uneasy because I knew I would be lured to it. But I remember enough of my past experience with the P800 to ignore it initially. That is, until I saw one up close.
I just couldn’t get over how much better the P900 looked. The screen was much better, the phone felt lighter, slimmer – just overall much friendlier. I was pretty much sold except for the price. At US$730, this isn’t exactly cheap. I was though sold and after pondering over it for a few hours (probably more like minutes), I asked if my provider had one and they sent one over the very next day.
The P900 is very similar to the previous P800 model. But it’s a massive improvement. First, the color scheme has changed. Rather than going for a more colorful brilliant blue which would play into the more fashionable side of the mobile phone, the P900 is a metallic silvery with some blue-metallic trimmings. I think this color scheme is stunning and very well suited for this (and almost any other) phone.
The P900 has many of the same design features as the P800. The keypad still “flips” open to reveal the screen. The keypad though is much more user friendly and less obtrusive than the P800. As with the P800, it’s also removable, though that takes a bit of work with a special screwdriver.
Unlike the P800, the P900 comes with a real PDA pen which is a huge design improvement. The silly pen/stick on the P800 was just horrible in hindsight. The pen now slides into the mobile on the back of the phone. The jog dial is also still there and its one feature that Sony puts in that I really like and wish they would do it for all their phones. The docking station is very similar to the old P800. Nothing exciting to write about but it is functional and works.
Overall, the P900 is less “fat” than the P800. Which is a major design improvement because it is now much more “pocket-friendly”. In addition, it does feel somewhat lighter although arguably, the specs say they are relatively the same. Psychologically though, and from just pure first hand experience, it does feel lighter. The look and feel of the P900 is very good and I would rate it very highly.
Where do I begin? The P900 is probably one of the most complete phones around. Let me start by saying that this is probably the first phone that I’ve found where it was a very good mobile phone, and a relatively decent PDA. In truth, I can (and have) completely abandoned my PDA. The Contacts as well as the Jotter function are more than adequate at replacing the main functions that I wanted from my PDA (keeping track of my contacts as well as some notes).
The P900 as a phone is much better than other Sony Ericsson’s. First, this one is much louder than some of the past models. No problems in cranking up the volume if you are in a crowded or loud area. I also like that the P900 supports a speakerphone function – something I missed with other models. As for voice quality/clarity, I would say it’s on par if not better than the older SE models (like my T610 or Z600). Sony Ericsson has never been known for its sound quality, but the P900 is more than adequate and much better than other models. As a tri-band GSM phone, the P900 is capable of covering almost the entire globe.
So the phone function isn’t an issue. How do the other functions stack up? Well, as I mentioned above the big advantage of the P900 over the P800 is the upgrade in the screen resolution. This is now a full 65k color screen. Not exactly as strong as PDAs, but for a mobile, it’s fantastic. The size of the screen is also ideal. It’s large enough to read text and play games, use its functions, etc. But not too big so that it makes the phone bulky (like other PDA phones such as the XDA/XDAII) or so that it eats up a lot of battery. Having said that though, I did wish that there was a way to turn up the contrast/brightness on the screen. I would have like to have had the screen turned up a bit brighter.
What do you need a higher resolution screen for? Everything. The games are so much better, web browsing is stunning, and pictures are amazing. Let’s start with the last issue first. So far the biggest surprise with the P900 is the quality of the images. I am extremely impressed with the camera on this phone. I would say it’s about even par with the silly camera that they stuck on my Sony Vaio TR2! The pictures are very good and resolution is very high. The downside is that the images are so good, that they are often too large to send as MMS. You will need to downsize them. The files are also slightly larger so a larger memory stick might be needed. But I have over a hundred images and I still have plenty of memory to go. You can also take video clips on the P900 which is very fun. I have yet to send a clip though as I don’t know anyone else that has this function on their mobile to watch it. Still, it’s a fun feature to have.
Speaking of which, the P900 supports the Memory Stick Duo format, but can only support up to 128MB, i.e. it does not support the MS Duo Pro format. 128MB is probably way overkill anyway, unless you want to use this as an MP3 player as well. While we’re on that subject, the MP3 player works really well. Sounds are very clear through the headphones as well as the speaker. But more importantly, you can set any MP3 tune as your ringing tone. Very cool.
The P900 supports very advanced data features. With the built-in browser and the additional Opera browser software, you can view full web pages. It’s slow, but it can be done. Unfortunately, with the way mobile operators charge for data (per packet) downloading web pages can get expensive very quickly. Still it’s plenty of fun and a great option that I have used often.
With it’s PDA like functions, you can write on the screen just as you would many of the PDAs. The use of a touchscreen is very useful. Also there’s a built-in pop-up keyboard so SMS and other functions are extremely easy. No more using the alphanumeric keypad to enter text!
The P900 also comes with plenty of software to keep you busy and to make the P900 your one-stop device. A CD-rom comes with the P900 that offers a host of add-on software. At the top of your must have application is the V-Rally game which is a P900 version of this popular Atari racing game. I have tried it many times (the demo version that comes with the P900) and even though the car is difficult to control, it’s still a lot of fun. Other fun software includes a mapping software, Handy-safe (to safe guard information), photo editor, and a pocket reader (to read e-books and other files).
The Symbian operating system is less than ideal. But for what it is, it’s relatively decent. I’ve become an increasingly big fan of Windows Pocket PC (especially for PDAs) and though the XDAII uses it, I still am not fully happy with it as a mobile phone operating system. Nokia has the simplest and most intuitive operating menus. But it too is looking towards Symbian as its operating system for some of its more advanced handsets. So I’m willing to accept it on the P900. It is very simple and although it takes a little bit of time to get used to it, I am happy with its use and will stick with it.
The P900 easily lasts a few days of standard use. Even with heavy use of the MP3, GPRS, and camera function, I could easily use the phone for at least 2 full days, which is more than adequate in my opinion.
There are two very easy ways to describe the P900. First, it’s the most complete phone/PDA out there. In terms of features, and more importantly function, this is the first mobile phone that I have had that can truly do all the things that I want in a PDA. The P900 is a device that is a very good phone and a reasonable PDA as well. Others are often a mediocre PDA and a poor phone or vice versa.
Second, the P900 is probably as close to a 3G device you can have today without having a 3G device. It does data (albeit through the much slower GPRS) and is capable of full web page views. More importantly, the P900 has picture and video qualities which would allow it to deliver multimedia content similar to 3G services. Although 3G is just around the corner, the handsets, functions and services are likely to be quite similar to what the P900 can offer today. I wish it were at 3G speeds but even with it’s limitations, its fun to dream of what is to come. With its screen, functions, and overall cool factor, the P900 is a winner in my opinion and for those wanting more from their mobile handset, the P900 is an ESSENTIAL mobile gadget for you.