The "1-Minute" Review
A phone-PDA hybrid that has attracted a loyal following of users and Java application developers, and runs a version of the Symbian OS using a stylus for input. No other wireless device can compare to the Sony-Ericsson P800 in one respect: those who buy one seem to fall head-over-heels in love with it, just the same way Mac users do with their computers, or iPod users do with their player. With its blue-and-white casing and pale, translucent keypad, the P800 even looks a little like an iMac. What is it about the P800 that inspires such loyalty? Does this loyalty make sense when more and more wireless manufacturers are coming out with third-generation smartphones that match or exceed the P800's list of features?
When it first appeared in 2002, the P800 was hands-down the most advanced PDA-phone available. More than a year later, the battle has been joined by newer competitors like the Palm Treo 600 and Samsung's i700, and opting for the P800 is no longer a no-brainer. Potential users now have to ask themselves a few key questions. First, do you prefer a built-in keypad for typing with your thumbs or fingers, or are you happy using a stylus on a touch-sensitive screen? The P800 requires a stylus, but on the other hand, it gives you a bigger screen area in exchange. With the stylus, the P800 is very responsive -- you won't notice any delay while you tap out messages letter by letter -- and the handwriting recognition is effective and easy to use.
The screen itself is a 4,096-color, 208 x 320 pixel LCD which is good but not outstanding by contemporary standards. Unfortunately, the P800's screen doesn't have external brightness or contrast controls, making it less than ideal for shifting light conditions. The built-in camera is typical for camphones, and comes with a group of useful additional features. There is no flash, but camera operations are very simple and quick.
This is one of the keys to understanding why users like their P800s so much: thoughtful, user-friendly operation. The second question to ask yourself is whether or not you value user-friendly operation in general over specific capablities and maxed-out performance -- if the answer is yes, the P800 will satisfy you. Unlike some complex wireless devices, the P800 doesn't make you learn new tricks or re-wire your brain to get things done. By-and-large, buttons are where you expect them to be, and shortcuts of various kinds are included everywhere. For example, your phone book Contacts list includes one-touch "Hot Links" that work much the same way as speed dial -- saving second or two here and there with features like these really seems to add up in your favor. One fact that may or may not be a turn-off for potential users: no predictive text-entry. If you depend on this feature, this might be a real annoyance.
The other secret to the P800's enduring appeal is that its Symbian OS enjoys a large and ever-growing library of freeware Java applications, distributed quickly and painlessly by a network of official and unofficial websites. When it comes to judging the P800 as a portable computing device, its popularity with third-party developers sets it head-and-shoulders above the competition.
In other respects, its computing features are average or above-average for its class. One glaring weakness is Sony's proprietary DUO memory stick format: these are are less convenient to buy or replace than generic Flash sticks, and will cost more for the equivalent capacity. Also, Sybian OS does not support multiple user profiles, so if you plan on sharing your device, this may pose a problem. The P800 supports Bluetooth and MMS, and comes with an IR port for fast data exchange between devices. USB is provided for synchronization and charging but not for peripherals like an external keyboard. Support for multimedia is not outstanding: popular movie formats and some sound formats are not available for playback, and you won't be able to use MP3s as ringtones.
Prices (Where to Buy)
Sony released the Ericsson p800 on June 17, 2003.
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Sony Ericsson p800 user manual here.
Sony backs up the Ericsson p800 with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Ericsson p800 has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Sony support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Sony's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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