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Sony Ericsson P1i

>> Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Sony Ericsson P1i has the familiar design of many of the company's cell phones but most closely resembles the M600i. The candy bar shape smart phone is compact and light at 4.1 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.7 inch deep and 4.4 ounces, and sports a traditional but attractive silver and black casing. It's certainly a huge improvement over the bulky P990i. With a solid construction, the P1i is comfortable to use as a phone, and it has a nice soft touch finish on the back to make it easier to grip.

It also won't make too much of a tight fit in a pants pocket. The Sony Ericsson P1i next to the RIM BlackBerry Curve. The P1i boasts a beautiful 2.6 inch display that shows off 262,144 colors at a 320x240 pixel resolution. It's sharp and bright, and you can adjust the backlight timer, theme, wallpaper, menu style (grid or list views), and more to suit your personal style. Even better, it's a touch screen, so you can enter data, navigate the various menus, and launch applications with just touch of your finger or stylus.

For the most part, the screen was responsive to our commands, though the smart phone's somewhat sluggish performance originally had us thinking otherwise (see Performance section for more). Like the Sony Ericsson M600i, the P1i features a dual function rocker style keyboard that's surprisingly easy to use. Given the smaller footprint, the Sony Ericsson P1i doesn't have a full QWERTY keyboard but sports the dual function rocker style keyboard like the M600i's.

(You also have the option of entering text using the onscreen keyboard or handwriting recognition system.) There are two letters per key, and if you press it to the left, it inputs one letter pressing it to the right enters the other letter. Admittedly, it takes a bit of acclimation to use the keyboard, but not as much as one would think. We got the hang of it pretty quickly, and the tactile buttons are large and have a fair amount of spacing between them for easy typing.

The number buttons are outlined in red to help you locate them in a sea of black. Unlike many smart phones today, there are no dedicated Talk and End keys on the P1i, so you'll have to use the touch screen to make and end calls. There's also no navigation toggle, but you do get a scroll wheel on the left spine (as well as a back button and a cell phone strap loop) that you can depress to select an item.

Though this control allows for easier one handed use, we did miss having the directional keypad and we often found ourselves having to use the jog wheel for one task, the touch screen for another, and the keyboard for yet another function it just wasn't the most seamless experience and got to be frustrating.

On the right, you'll find a customizable shortcut button, a proprietary Sony Memory Stick Micro (M2) expansion slot, and a camera activation key. The camera lens and flash are located on the back, while there is a connector for the AC adapter and headset on the bottom. Of the latter, Sony Ericsson uses a proprietary port, so that's a bit of annoyance particularly where the headset is concerned.

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