The Sony Ericsson K810i is the long awaited ‘upgrade’ to the K800i, Sony Ericsson’s first Cyber-Shot handset. I’ve put upgrade in inverted comma’s because the K810i isn’t really an upgrade at all – the handset has almost identical software functionality, and the only major change is the physical design of the handset.
All the same features are offered: 3.2mpx digital camera, 3G network support, Memory Stick Micro expansion slot, FM stereo radio, 262,144 colour LCD display – the list goes on. One of the only software changes is the inclusion of Photo Fix, an automated brightness/contrast adjusting application for images captured by the K810i’s camera.
Surely that can’t be all that has changed..?
There is only one major difference between the K810i and the K800i – the physical design. That aside, both handsets are identical. They have exactly the same features. Comparing them side-by-side using the Sony Ericsson website comparison application, there are no functionality changes whatsoever. This is less than impressive, considering the K800i was released in the middle of last year.
The physical revamp of the K810i does have its advantages over the K800i. Measuring 106 x 47 x 22mm (115 grams), the K800i is a pretty chunky handset, and the size is one of the major gripes with consumers. Sony Ericsson have addressed this issue and the K810i measures 106 x 48 x 17mm, a whole 5mm thinner.
The K810i still does have some impressive features though. The auto-focusing camera can capture images up to 2048 x 1536 pixels, and has 16x digital zoom, a Xenon flash, and video recording support (10 frames per second). Images and video can be stored on the internal 64MB of memory or an external Memory Stick Micro (128MB supplied).
UMTS 2100MHz networks are supported, but only with the WCDMA 3G protocol. Although fast, HSDPA networks are very quickly becoming popular with the mainstream consumer due to their high-speed data rates. Connectivity on GSM 900, 1800, or 1900MHz networks is supported, with the GPRS protocol used for data connections.
The K810i’s display is a TFT LCD panel with 320 x 240 pixel resolution. It can display up to 262,144 colours and makes using the full screen viewfinder for the camera an absolute treat.
The biggest transformation from the K800i to the K810i is this section: the physical aspects. The K800i was criticised for being a large handset, and Sony Ericsson have taken this on board, given K810i a diet before being released, and voila – 5mm thinner, and 12 grams lighter.
Here’s a quick comparison of the K800i and K810i dimensions:
106 x 48 x 17mm
105 x 47 x 22mm
The K810i has gained some width, but this is compensated by the huge reduction in depth.
The thickest part of the K810i, just like the K800i, is the camera lens. It sticks out from the rest of the back of the handset, mainly due to the active lens cover. However, as the K810i is a whole 5mm thinner than its older brother, this isn’t so much an issue anymore.
The entire front of the K810i is made of glossy plastic, which is quite prone to fingerprints around the keypad area, as the buttons have transformed into circles instead of large, non-separating buttons. The button design is perhaps the second biggest change from the K800i, and I quite like it! They look somewhat difficult to use at first glance, but are as responsive as regular keys. There are 18 keys below the display, as well as the 5-way navigational stick. Two additional buttons are located above the display for additional camera functionality when using the viewfinder application.
Flipping the K810i around, the first thing you will notice is the soft-touch plastic covering the back of the handset. This isn’t quite as functional as it could be – it doesn’t actually touch the surface the handset sits on, the lens cover does! Never the less the handset feels good in hand and won’t slip out of your hand.
On the left hand side of the handset you will find the Memory Stick Micro port and dedicated Media Player key. The volume up/down keys, infrared window and camera shutter key are located on the right hand side of the K810i. At the bottom is the Fastport connector and wrist strap slot, and at the top is the lone on/off button.
In my opinion the K810i is a much more attractive handset than the K800i, and the slimming down (in both size and weight) is a great achievement.
User interface & display
The K810i uses Sony Ericsson’s latest proprietary user interface. It is a straightforward icon- and tab-based system with large fonts and bright colours. The display on the handset is a 240 x 320 pixel TFT LCD capable of producing up to 262,144 colours.
Navigating around the user interface is made easy with the 5-way navigational joystick. The K810i does have two soft keys, but these are not used as often as the joystick. Below the left and right soft keys is a back button and ‘c’ (backspace) key, respectively. As always, holding down the back button will jump to the standby screen. Two additional buttons have been positioned on the left and right of the navigational strip – a dedicated web browser button, and My Shortcuts button. The My Shortcut menu also displays running applications, new events, and Internet bookmarks.
The main menu consists of 12 icons, which divide the main features of the handset into separate sections. The icons bounce and enlarge when they are hovered on, and the title of the icon is displayed at the top of the screen. The 5-way navigational joystick can be used to select an icon, or you can use the numerical pad, which directly reflects the 12 icons on screen.
Unfortunately, some areas of the K810i’s user interface are slightly laggy. When coming from the locked standby screen things take a few second to get back to speed, and messaging can get slow if you’re a fast typist. Tabbed menus also aren’t as fast as in other Sony Ericsson handsets.
The 240 x 320 pixel TFT LCD display is perfect for the K810i. The large resolution is great for viewing full screen images and video, and the user interface itself is full of bright colours. It is visible in sunlight, and the brightness can be manually adjusted in 10% increments to save battery life.
Four themes are pre-installed on the K810i’s internal memory – Crystaline, Deepest purple, Light flow, and Phenomenon. Themes can modify the background, screensaver, colour scheme, and several other colour-related aspects of the user interface. Additional themes can be found on the Sony Ericsson website and a bunch of other websites.
Making and receiving calls
Video and voice calling is supported by the K810i. Calls can be taken via the earpiece, or you can use the included stereo headset, the integrated loudspeaker, or a separately purchased Bluetooth headset.
The K810i’s phone book can be synchronised with your computer using the Sony Ericsson software, or you can transfer stored contacts from your SIM card to the handset memory. Multiple fields can be added to each contact, as can an image, which will be displayed when the contact calls.
If you dial a number from the standby screen, the left soft key turns into the ‘call’ button. If you want to make a video call, store the number, or send a message to the number, select the right soft key – ‘options’. If you are highlighting a number in a message, or a contact in the phone book, the options menu will display call-related functions.
Above the display is a small camera, reserved for video calling functionality. During a call you can switch to the 3.2mpx digital camera on the back of the handset, or even stream a static image from the memory. The front camera offers 2x digital zoom, night mode, and manual brightness adjustment. Video quality can be set to smooth, normal, or sharp.
During a video call you can transfer a sound from the memory by going to the Sounds section of the options menu. The sound is played from the handset to the other caller in place of what the microphone is picking up. The speakerphone and microphone can both be muted during a call.
The volume can be adjusted during a call using the volume up and down keys on the right hand side of the handset. The earpiece volume is great – most of the time I only had it at about 65%, any louder was too loud.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the loudspeaker…
Loudspeaker volume during a call is much too soft (without the stereo on, I may add), which makes it almost impossible to take calls while driving without carrying around the wired headphones or a Bluetooth headset. Either that, or hold the handset up to your ear – in which case you might as well not even turn the loudspeaker on! In quieter situations, the loudspeaker volume is mediocre.
I’ve never had this problem with a Sony Ericsson handset before, and hope that the audio codecs are updated in a future version of the firmware, fixing this problem.
The K810i has the default Sony Ericsson messaging implementation. SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail messages are supported, and T9 predictive text is included in most local languages (based on the region the handset is sold in). Message composition windows can lag when a lot of text has been added or there are several items in an MMS message. Most users won’t find this troublesome.
I always enjoy the Sony Ericsson MMS composition window – it has a row of icons below the message body for adding items to the message, and the options menu has advanced configuration settings including new slide attachment, slide timing, and so forth. Pictures and video can be captured and automatically inserted, or you can grab an item from the memory. Voice clips can also be recorded on the go while creating a message.
POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 e-mail standards are supported. Attachments can be downloaded, however the K810i doesn’t come with any document viewers so you may want to install Java-based ones.
The RSS reader is accessed through the Messaging window. By default, the reader has the feeds for BBC News, Google News, Sony Ericsson WTA News, Sony Ericsson FUN&downloads, and Sony Ericsson News. You can add your own feeds with the press of a few buttons, and you can schedule updates or set the application to automatically update when connected to a packet data service.
The K810i supports 2G and 3G networks, Bluetooth, infrared, and USB connectivity (Mass Storage Device and PictBridge support). Inside the sales package is a USB data-cable, and CD-rom with the Sony Ericsson PC Suite software. The handset does not have HSDPA or WLAN support, which is a disappointment.
GSM 900, 1800, and1900MHz networks provide coverage on most continents, except the Americas, which use the GSM 850MHz band. Packet data connectivity on 2G networks is provided by the GPRS protocol, capable of speeds up to 48kbp/s.
Only one 3G network is supported: UMTS 2100MHz. The WCDMA protocol provides downlink speeds of up to 384kbp/s – enough bandwidth for streaming video and audio, video calling, and high-speed internet access.
The USB connectivity on the K810i can be used to connect to the aforementioned PC Suite software, or you can utilise the Mass Storage Device profile. Using the latter option, additional Sony Ericsson drivers are not needed to provide connectivity between the handset and a computer – just plug in and start transferring files across. Most other handsets with this USB profile only support transferring files to the memory card, but the K810i provides access to the memory card and the internal memory!
When the USB cable is plugged into the FastPort at the bottom of the K810i, the handset prompts you to select File Transfer, Phone mode, or PictBridge mode. File transfer mode is the Mass Storage Device profile, which disables all phone functionality while connected. In Phone mode, the PC Suite software can connect to the handset and phone functions are not affected. PictBridge mode is used when connecting directly to a compatible printer for photo printing.
Bluetooth version 2.0 (and backwards) devices are fully compatible with the K810i, and the handset also includes support for the A2DP profile for stereo audio streaming. The other supported profiles are the Basic Imaging profile, Dial-up Networking profile, File Transfer profile, Generic Access profile, Generic Object Exchange profile, Handsfree profile, Headset profile, HID profile, JSR-82 Java, Object Push profile, Personal Area Networking profile, Serial Port profile, Synchronization profile, SyncML OBEX binding, Audio/Video Remote Control profile, and the Phonebook Access profile.
The infrared port is located at the bottom right hand side of the device for low-speed, close-range wireless communications. IrDA is an old specification, but still included in mobile phones for backwards compatibility.
The main menu has an Entertainment folder that contains most of the K810i’s multimedia applications. There’s the stereo FM radio tuner, TrackID, video player, VideoDJ, PhotoDJ, MusicDJ, sound recorder, Java games, and Bluetooth remote control. The music player has its own icon on the main menu. Sony Ericsson’s ringtone service, PlayNow, also has a dedicated menu icon.
The Music player is a slimmed down version of the Walkman player which sorts compatible audio formats by artist name, track name, and into custom-made playlists. When you open the Music player it scans the internal and external memory for new files to add to the library. Supported audio formats include MPEG4, MP3, M4A, 3GPP, WAV, AMR(-NB and -WB), MIDI, RealAudio 8, and WMA (Windows Media Audio).
A stereo widening option is offered, but I didn’t find it did much to the music being played. The equalizer has four presets (normal, bass, voice, or treble boost) or you can manually create your own preset. Shuffle and loop functionality is offered.
At maximum volume, the loudspeaker can get crackly and distort the music being played. For the most part you will probably be using the headphones to listen to music, so this isn’t such a big problem. Stereo Bluetooth headsets could also be used as the K810i supports the A2DP profile.
Supported video formats are MPEG4, 3GPP, RealVideo 8, and WMV (Windows Media Video). Video can be viewed in portrait or landscape layout, at the original resolution, resized to fit the screen, or at full screen. You can capture a screenshot of the video clip being played by pausing at the spot you want, choosing the options menu, and then selecting ‘save image’. Just like the music player, the memory is scanned for new files when you launch the application.
The TrackID service is used to identify a song’s artist, title, and album name by recording a clip from the FM radio or from an external source through the microphone. The recorded clip is sent over the Internet, and the song is searched for. If a match is found, the results are displayed. Data costs do apply.
VideoDJ, PhotoDJ, and MusicDJ are pre-installed Sony Ericsson applications that allow to you to edit videos, photos, and audio files on-the-fly. VideoDJ offers functionality such as cropping video clips, adding transitions, editing the soundtrack of a video clip, adding text, images, and more. PhotoDJ can be used to adjust levels, brightness, light balance, remove red-eye, rotate, add effect (negative, cartoon, frosted glass, or painting), or add an item (such as text, clipart, or frame). MusicDJ is used to create your own MIDI ring tones.
Extreme Air Snowboarding and Tennis Multiplay are the two pre-installed Java games. Using a Bluetooth connection you can verse your friends in the Tennis Multiplay game – providing they also have the game installed.
* K800i results courtesy http://www.jbenchmark.com.
The K810i has pre-installed PIM applications such as an alarm clock, calendar, task manager, note taker, timer, stopwatch, calculator, and code memo service. The handset can synchronize with remote servers over a 2G or 3G data connection, or with a local computer via the Sony Ericsson software and USB, infrared or Bluetooth connection.
Unfortunately, the K810i does not have any document viewers – which is particularly annoying as the e-mail client supports attachments. Your best bet is to download Java-based viewers, which may come at a cost.
Java applications are supported by the Sony Ericsson K810i, and I managed the following benchmarks using the JBenchmark application suite:
||LQ: 325 HQ: 178
||LQ: 334 HQ: 187
The K810i performs quite well in JBenchmark 1.0 and 2.0, but the figures aren’t anything amazing for 3D applications. There is a huge difference in the scores using JBenchmark 1.0 on the K810i and the K800i, but the results I got using the application in real life on my K810i are different to that shown on the JBenchmark website, where I got the K800i results. On the JBenchmark website the K810i achieved 7374 using JBenchmark 1.0 – which is still considerably lower than that of the K800i.
The K810i fully supports MIDP 2.0 applications, and does include a 3D engine for enhanced graphics in 3D games.
Build quality of the K810i is excellent. The only moveable part of the handset is the active lens cover, which clicks smoothly into place at the open and closed position.
Weighing 103 grams and measuring 106 x 48 x 17mm, the handset is solid and comfortable to hold.
The only reason the K810i doesn’t get 5 stars in this section is due to the fingerprint-prone front section, which is made of high gloss plastic. Although the screen won’t necessarily be touched regularly, the gaps between the numerical keys are touched every time one of the buttons is pressed.
This is perhaps the biggest downfall for the K810i. I would only be able to last a maximum of two days with the K810i before it needed a full charge. The battery loses a lot of charge while resizing images for MMS messages and when using the camera – the latter of which is to be expected, but not to the extent that I experienced on the K810i.
The K810i’s battery is 50mAh larger than the K800i’s, and it is surprising that the battery didn’t last longer than the K800i. I reviewed the K800i back in 2006 and don’t remember the battery being anything like that of the K810i.
As a side note, the battery can be charged via USB.