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Sony Ericsson TM506

>> Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Sony Ericsson doesn't make a bold style statement, but that doesn't mean it's unattractive. Indeed, we liked its slim profile (3.7 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick) and its glossy black skin with the amber highlights. This phone would look at home both in the boardroom and in a nightclub. It's also relatively lightweight (3.4 ounces), but it has a comfortable feel and a sturdy hinge. Still, we had a few design gripes.

The external display is small, rectangular, and monochrome. As such, it won't work as a self portrait viewfinder and it can't support photo caller ID. It does show the time, battery life, signal strength, and numeric caller ID, but none of the display's options are customizable. Fortunately, one flick of the volume rocker on the right spine will reactivate the screen's back lighting.

In the right light, the phone's external skin will show some fingerprints and smudges, but they weren't noticeable most of the time.

Besides the volume rocker, there are few remaining features on the TM506's exterior. The Memory Stick Micro slot is in a convenient and readily accessible location on the left spine.

The camera lens sits just above the external display, the charger port rests on the bottom of the phone, and the TM506's single speaker is on the rear side.

Though the TM506's external display is disappointing, its 2.25 inch internal screen is bright, colorful, and vibrant. With support for 262,000 colors, it stands up to Sony Ericsson's long tradition of making great displays. Graphics, photos, and text show up well and gaming was a treat. You can change the brightness level and choose from three easy to use menu interface designs. Initially we were a little wary of the TM506's controls and keypad, but in use, they're not so bad. The circular toggle and central OK button are flush, but they're surrounded by a raised ring that gives them some definition.

The toggle doubles as a shortcut to four user defined functions. The Talk and End buttons, the camera shortcut, and the clear key are also flat, but their arrangement is spacious enough to prevent misdials. The thin sliver soft keys are raised slightly above the surface of the phone, but they're not as tactile as we'd like. There's a dedicated power button just below the keypad.

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