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Camera phones have gone a long way. They can now take a good picture under almost any lighting conditions, stored photos can now be sent to others with a touch of a button, and photos can even be printed out to preserve that precious moment. Sony Ericsson’s K850i has a high pixel count in the digicam stakes, but is it worth buying as a phone?


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While there are a lot of camera phones out in the market today, there are only a handful of companies that can do it well. These companies have spent a lot of money for its R&D department just to provide users with that ‘perfect’ camera phone. The new Sony Ericsson K850i is a camera phone that not only promises to take good photos with its 5 mega pixel camera sensor and xenon lens, it also comes with features that will come handy for people on the go.

The package comes with the phone, a charger, a proprietary headphone, a proprietary phone to USB port, a strap, and a PC suite installation disc. The K850i has a glossy black surface that gives it a nice classy touch. However, the problem with these kinds of surfaces is that it’s prone to fingerprint marks, making it look ‘dirty’ after several hours of use. The keys are small and its four-way navigation key is awkwardly placed ‘in-between’ the number pad, making navigation and texting a little difficult for people with large fingers. A low-resolution camera (for video calls) is located beside the ear speaker, while touch-sensitive selection buttons can be found just right above the keypads.

The volume/digital zoom keys, camera switch mode, camera on/off key, and camera shutter button is located at the right side of the unit, while its 5 mega pixel camera and flash can be found at the back of the unit. The bottom part of the unit hosts the charger, handsfree, and USB cable port, as well as a fold out cover that houses the SIM card, battery, and memory card (Memory Stick Micro or microSD).

 


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Performance:

Besides getting used to the location of the navigation key, users also have to keep in mind that that the select/OK button and other options can be accessed by pressing the touch-sensitive selection buttons located right on top of the keypad.  Pressing the middle touch button will bring users to the main menu that consists of PlayNow, Internet, Entertainment, Cyber-shot, Messaging, Media, Alarms, Contacts, Radio, Calls, Organizer, and Settings mode.

PlayNow is a service that allows a user to purchase music, ringtones, wallpapers, and games via the internet. The site is easy to use and one can listen to music files before allowing them to completely download the song/ringtone for a fee.

Launching the Internet function of the phone will bring users to a menu with a Google search bar, a website address bar, a web feed section, browsing history, a Sony-Ericsson Fun & Downloads and Accessories section, and Scoopt – a service that gives a user a chance to earn money just by taking a photo and sending it to Scoopt via email. Scoopt claims to split the earning of the sold photo (50/50) should it get sold to magazines, TV stations, or other publishers.

The Entertainment sub-menu consists of Games, a Track ID service, a VideoDJ function for video editing, a PhotoDJ for photo editing, a MusicDJ function for creating moldies with the help of four instruments, a Bluetooth remote control function, and a sound recording function for those important press conferences or oral reminders.

Other functions like checking SMS, email, web feed, or voicemail (Messaging), viewing phone or SIM contacts (Contacts), setting an alarm (Alarm), watching videos, listening to music, or viewing photos (Media), and even tuning in to an FM station (Radio) can also be done by accessing the other functions of the K850i.

 


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But perhaps the ‘highlight’ of this phone is its Cyber-shot function. The unit becomes a dedicated 5 mega pixel camera once the Cyber-shot camera is opened (via the main menu or the camera on/off button).  The 3, 6, 9, and hash keys become the shoot mode, scenes toggle, timer, and flash toggle respectively. Additional settings such as picture size (VGA, 1MP, 3MP, 5MP), focus mode (Auto, Macro, and Infinite), ISO settings (up to ISO 400), metering mode, white balance, effects, image stabilizer, and picture quality are also available, giving users more advanced options to work with. 

The camera has a BestPic function that will take nine photos as soon as the shutter is pressed, which will then give users the option to choose the photo/photos that they want to save. There is also a Panorama mode that will take three photos and will still them together into one seamless photo. Users can also have a little ‘fun’ as the K850i has a Frame function that will allow them to choose a frame (up to 15 to choose from) that they can use for a particular photo.

We have taken several photos in various circumstances (outdoor, indoor with normal lighting, indoor with minimal lighting, night shots) and have found the photo quality of the K850i to be noteworthy. The outdoor shots we took were impressive, with the camera being able to produce sharp and vivid photos. The camera’s flash was able to light up the object/person that we took in low-lighted areas and was still able to give a clear photo, making this phone a camera you can use in almost any place.

 


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Conclusion:

Overall, the Sony Ericsson K850i is a phone worth looking at for its various functions and features, as well as its 5 mega pixel camera sensor and dedicated camera controls. And while we did not like the fingerprint-magnet finish, small keys, and awkward navigation key location of the K850i, it still manages to get the job done. And that, for us, is what really matters.

 

Product Specifications:

Camera
· BestPic
· Camera – 5-mega pixel
· Digital zoom – 16x
· Image stabiliser
· Picture blogging
· Red-eye reduction
· Video stabiliser
· Xenon flash
· Auto focus
· Video record

Music
· Music tones
· Bluetooth stereo (A2DP)
· Media Player
· Music tones – MP3, AAC
· PlayNow
· TrackID

Internet
· RSS feeds
· Web browser – Access NetFront Web Browser

Entertainment
· 3D games
· Radio – FM radio RDS
· Java
· Video streaming
· Video Clip

Connectivity
· Modem
· USB mass storage
· USB support
· Bluetooth technology
· Synchronisation PC

Messaging
· Email
· Predictive text input
· Sound recorder
· SMS long (Text Messaging)
· MMS (Multimedia Messaging)

Communication
· Speakerphone
· Polyphonic ringtones
· Vibrating Alert
· Video call

Design
· Picture wallpaper
· Wallpaper animation
· Navigation key

Organiser
· Contacts
· Notes
· Phone book
· Stopwatch
· Tasks
· Timer
· Alarm clock
· Calculator
· Calendar
· Flight mode

Available Colours: Luminous Green / Velvet Blue

Screen: 240×320 pixel 262,144-colour TFT

Memory:
40 MB Phone Memory
Memory Stick Micro (M2) support (up to 4 GB)

Size 102 x 48 x 17 mm

Weight 118 g

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Sony Ericsson K850i | $1,099 |  |
www.sonyericsson.com.au

For: Great camera; Bright xenon flash; Functions and features; Dedicated camera buttons; Form factor
Against: Fingerprint-magnet surface; Small keys; Awkward location of the navigation key; Navigating through the unit may be confusing at times because of its touch keys; Price of $1,099 may turn users off
Conclusion: One of the best camera phones around.

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