TechRadar recently attended the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 demonstration in London, and got the chance to have a play with the device that some have been saying might be the one to save SE's bacon.
The first impressions are of quality. It feels a little on the heavy side in the hand, but not like a pointless lump of metal. More in a Nokia 'why on earth is this so expensive?' and 'but it feels really nice like a Sirocco' kind of way.
The sliding action to reveal the QWERTY keyboard of the Xperia X1 felt smooth, like it could be used time and again without any deterioration. The keys felt slightly spongy to touch, but again the all-metal finish felt nice, and the handset sat well in landscape mode for typing an email or text message.
But what's inside is what counts, especially on a high-end handset, so let's have a look at how the 'revolutionary' interface handles.
As many of you will probably know, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 features the 'Panels' interface, which essentially means the phone can run nine different desktops at once.
So you can have the standard Windows Mobile interface if you're into that one, a Sony Ericsson personalised version with RSS feeds and widgets a-plenty on another, and a whole host of other things.
TechRadar saw a radio application and a multimedia player, as well as a weird fish screensaver that allows you to make the fish move around the screen.
In short, the theory is great, and it works well in practice.
And to be honest, from our brief-ish experience with the phone, there's only one gripe, and that's with the interface.
Moving from panel to panel is slow and clunky, in fact, standard Windows Mobile speed (those of you who have experienced it will know what we mean).
It's not OUTRAGEOUSLY slow, it's annoying slow. Magnus Andersson, senior product manager at Sony Ericsson, was asked about the very same problem, and he said it was fast enough. And to be honest, it probably is.
But there are those out there who have used the iPhone, and they know how fast they want things to open. Pretty much instantly, in most cases.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia is packing some pretty mean specs too; 528Mhz processor with 340MB RAM is pretty meaty for a device this size.
But the lag that comes from Windows Mobile use just won't go away, and is the chief gripe of most users.
Andersson said the reason this UI was used was to allow more features to be packed into one handset, with all the range of connectivity offered. And WM offers this fine, it's just annoying to use, especially when the stylus is needed every so often.
In short, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 is a good handset, well worthy of its 'premium' tag (and likely price). It's no worse than the dozens of other WM handsets out there, and in fact is far better in most cases.
But the lag which persists is something you'll have to live with if you're desperate to move to this device. To the experienced WM user, this will be a piece of cake. Just don't expect a smooth transition if you're ditching a first-gen iPhone.
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