Sony Ericsson S700i reviewJan 10, 2005.
By Olav Hellesų-Knutsen
Camera / image handling
If you try to start the camera without opening the lens a warning message is displayed saying, "Open the lens cover". If the lens-cover is not removed within 30 seconds, the phone automatically goes back to standby mode. The camera is the application that makes the best use of the large display by using it as a viewfinder. It is also the only application except the picture viewer in slide show mode that uses the display in horizontal mode. The included image application is hidden a long way down the menu hierarchy. I actually didn't find that application before I started writing this review. Yes, it is mentioned in the manual, but who reads that anyway? The reason I didn't find it was that the application can't work with pictures captured at maximum resolution. I'm always capturing the images at max resolution of course. The "edit" option in the menu was removed instead of being grayed out. I found the edit image application at last, and this is what it can do with your images: Paste in clipart, paste in one of the 10 frames, add effects (Mosaic, Tint, Negative, Emboss, Frosted glass, Contrast, Ripple and Brightness), add text, draw lines, zoom, rotate and some more. It is possible to rotate the max resolution images clockwise from within the file explorer, but to resize the largest pictures you will have cheat a little and use the camera application. Start the Camera, click the view button and use the zoom to select a 320x240 area of the already captured image. Now you can edit the smaller version of the picture. Finally save the selected part as a new image.
The camera has a number of adjustable features to help capturing the perfect picture. You can adjust/set the following:
All settings mentioned above are adjustable from within the camera application.
Turning the camera light on and off is also possible with the combined
keyboard lock and photo light button located at the bottom (when holding
the phone horizontally) of the phone. One thing I miss is some kind of
warning when you forget to close the lens after capturing a shot. I forget
to close it 9 out of 10 times and it should not be a problem for Sony
Ericsson to add a warning that says "Remember to close the lens"
message when you exit the camera application.
I have captured a couple of pictures with the S700i and a Casio EXILIM X-Z4, a 4 mega-pixel camera for comparison. The pictures was taken by freehand without support of any sort. Both the S700i and the EXILIM was set to a 1280x960 resolution. Click on thumbnails to view the original images. As you can see, the S700i tend to be a little blurry in the edges like most mobile phone cameras.
The video recording part of the camera will only give you the usual 176x144 or 128x96 pixel resolution not suitable for anything else than sending a short clip of your suroundings to a friend via MMS or email. My guess is that the relatively low resolution is limited by the processor speed, and not the camera itself. Remember that captured video is stored as MPG4 files, and the real-time compression to MPG4 formate requires processor power that the probably S700 lacks. Video settings are similar to the still picture camera in addition to the option where you can limit captured clips to the standarized 10 second maximum used by most mobile phone manufactures.
Dialog boxes sometimes need a confirmation click before they disappear, and sometimes they will vanish by themselves within a second or two. You can always press the OK soft key button to remove them, but you'll have to be quick because you can end up clicking the original menu item once more. It is still a mystery to me when I am required to press a key or not.
As with all the latest models from Sony Ericsson, you can customize the phone by changing themes. By swapping a theme the S700i will have new colours in all menu elements. Including text colour, background colour or image and optional ringtone. A theme can be downloaded from the Sony Ericsson wap site, or here at Esato. If you want to create your own theme, you can download a free application from the developer.sonyericsson.com web site.
The FM radio uses the handsfree headset as an antenna, and it is not possible to start the Radio application without the headset connected. It is possible to play the radio via the loud speaker, but the handsfree headset must be connected. Channels can be saved using auto scan or you can type in the frequency manually before you save them. Up to 20 channels can be set. The user interface is simple and clear, but as a side note, I found the order of the auto stored channels a little hard to getting used to. E.g: If you save frequency 88.7 on channel 1 and 100.0 on channel 2 you will have to scroll down to change from channel 1 to 2. To me, the logical way to browse up in frequency is to scroll up. This is an example of a minor user interface detail I'm having diffcult to getting used to - and I use the radio frequently.
Other applications worth mentioning are:
Lately the phone has started to lose connection with the Sony Memory Stick Duo card after an unwanted reboot. I found this out when looking for an image in the Picture folder. The image was gone, and I could not figure out why. I had to turn the phone off and remove the battery for a short while before the phone would start up again. By the way: reboots does not require any interaction from the user. No SIM-card code is needed after a reboot.
I will let you know if a future software upgrade will solve these problems.All in all, I think the S700i is a very well built mobile phone. No plastic. Nice camera. A little expensive and a little large. Excellent connectivity solutions.