Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro

We like the 720p video capture, and we like the pull-out keyboard. These are the phone's two main selling points, but don't be fooled — a dodgy menu system and really rubbish build quality hamstring a potentially good mobile.


5.9
CNET Rating
5.5
User Rating

View more from Sony Ericsson »


The Sony Ericsson Vivaz wanted to win our hearts with its 720p video-capture abilities and touchscreen loveliness. Unfortunately, it was rubbish, with some horrible build quality and a deeply confusing menu system. The Vivaz Pro adds a pull-out QWERTY keyboard to the mix, but is that enough to win our hearts?

In a word, no. In 800 or so words...

Cowboy builders

Getting hold of the Vivaz Pro, it's clear Sony Ericsson hasn't done anything to fix the Vivaz's truly shonky build quality. We're no strangers to slightly wobbly tech, and we're willing to forgive the odd bit of bendy plastic or stiff button, but it's a rare and awful moment when we pick up a mobile that actually screams "cheap" from the moment we hold it in our hands.

The whole phone audibly creaks inside its flimsy plastic casing, and every single button is stiff and unresponsive. Holding it feels like cradling the ancient fossil of a mobile phone — we'd stuffed it in a Jiffy bag and posted it to the Natural History Museum before we realised our mistake.

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro

The keyboard is easy to type on thanks to the well spaced keys, but it's as wobbly as a blancmange. (Credit: CNET.co.uk)

Adding a full keyboard only provides this phone with more opportunity to be made of rubbish. Sliding the keyboard out feels like opening a rusty gate, and the hinge itself is so loose that the keyboard regularly slid out all wonky-like. Applying just a little pressure to the handset while you slide will cause the front panel to catch on the keyboard's individual keys, which we imagine will cause some serious damage before too long.

Broken-backed and bone-headed

The design isn't about to win any awards either, although this phone is fairly slim considering it's concealing a full keyboard. The Vivaz Pro has a distinctive rounded back, which unfortunately means the phone spends most of its time resting on the 5.1-megapixel camera, which isn't very well protected. We can foresee a cracked lens if you should be so unfortunate as to ever sit on your phone, or drop something on top of it.

Our model came in a grim greeny-grey-black shade; though a slightly cleaner looking white version is also available. As far as buttons go, you'll find three central command keys beneath the screen, dedicated buttons on the side of the phone for both camera and camcorder, volume keys, and — bizarrely — a lock/unlock key positioned on the back of the phone, just above the camera. If you're looking at the front of the phone you won't be able to see that button, which made actually finding the darn thing tricky at the best of times.

The display is curiously placed very low down on the front of the phone. It's too close to the three function buttons for our liking, and leaves a conspicuous bare spot above the screen itself. Presumably this is to give the huge Sony Ericsson logo room to breathe, but the result is that the phone looks like it has a massive great forehead.

Baffle me once

The Vivaz Pro sports an 81mm (3.2-inch) TFT touchscreen. It's the resistive type, which means you'll have to actually apply pressure to the screen for it to register your touch. This is ironic, because after just a few minutes of using the Vivaz Pro's operating system, applying pressure is exactly what you'll want to do.

The Symbian interface is just ... baffling. There are a few home screens, with photo-browsing, a Twitter client and a shortcut to add a contact. Hitting the central key will bring up the menu. And that's about it. Sony has added its own skin to the Symbian OS, and we can't really say it's paid off — just like the previous Vivaz, menu navigation is sluggish and drab.

It's simple, we'll give it that. But there's little to no customisation apparent, and finding what it is you're after is tricky indeed. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the way the menus have been ordered, and it gives us the distinct impression of a rush job. We've seen similarly weak and unintuitive interfaces, but usually on mobiles hundreds of dollars cheaper than this one.

When you pop out the QWERTY keyboard, the screen flips round to cater to the new orientation, but it often flickers and doesn't adjust very quickly or smoothly. A rather pretty flowing ribbon across the home screen changes direction as the phone is rotated. This tells us there's a gyroscopic sensor hidden somewhere in the Vivaz Pro's depths, so why this couldn't have been used to make switching from portrait to landscape mode a little more fluid, we're not sure.

Keyboard and camera comeback

Now this we like. We see plenty of QWERTY keyboards, and not all of them are — how to put this delicately? — usable. This one is, however. The keys themselves are well spaced out, with the gaps helping to eliminate mistakes while typing at speed. It made tapping out texts very comfortable, and is vastly preferable to wrangling with the somewhat unresponsive on-screen keypad.

Now we come to the real selling point — the Vivaz Pro shoots 720p video. But how does it actually handle? Recorded video certainly looks good, and while we've seen more colourful footage from the likes of a mini camcorder, it's pretty decent. If you want to do anything with the footage you've taken, you'll still have to grapple with the thoroughly awkward interface, however.

The camera has a 5.1-megapixel sensor, which is slightly disappointing considering the earlier Vivaz featured an 8.1-megapixel snapper, but in all honesty it makes very little difference with such a small sensor. Pictures taken with the Vivaz Pro still look decent mind you, and we're happy to see an LED photo light, auto-focus, 4x digital zoom, face detection and geotagging all present and correct.

Bits and bobs

Connectivity is pretty comprehensive, with both 3G and Wi-Fi on-board. At this price, that's no more than we'd expect. Call quality is perfectly reasonable, and although they're just as sticky and stubborn as every other hardware button on this phone, the volume keys on the side will give you a little more control during calls. As for battery life, expect the Vivaz Pro to last you a few days at most, and less if you're consuming gallons of data or using the camcorder all the time.

Conclusion

A rubbish interface and truly shocking build quality make the Vivaz Pro hard to recommend. We like the QWERTY keyboard, which does give it an edge over its touchscreen-only predecessor, and the 720p camcorder works well, shooting good quality footage. This phone's flaws invariably drag down the few smart features though, and for this price, we'd expect a significantly higher level of quality.

If Vivaz Pro leaves you cold, why not check out the Nokia N86, which features an 8-megapixel camera and Wi-Fi? It's a year old now, but we liked it then, and you'll likely find it going cheaper these days.

Via CNET UK

Previous Story

Nokia C5

Mobile Phones
Next Story

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro



Add Your Review 5


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
Summerlun
1
Rating
 

Summerlun posted a review   

The Good:Qwerty keyboard, Smart looking

The Bad:Slow response time, Turn off automatically, Not user-friendly

Finally sold this phone after 5 months of torture.

Ya Mum
10
Rating
 

Ya Mum posted a review   

The Good:Awesome slider, keyboard, and good design

The Bad:Build quality? WTF?

Gee you guys must hate this phone. No need to down grade it so much. Sliding the keyboard feels like sliding a rusty gate, WTF!? EVEN I CAN WRITE A BETTER REVIEW! BUILD QUALITY? WTF IS BUILD QUALITY! AS LONG AS YOU CAN SEARCH THE WEB, PLAY GAMES AND TEXT AND CALL, WHO THE **** CARES ABOUT BUILD QUALITY!

 

Ya Mum posted a reply   

Oh btw, stop advertising for **** nokia. Nokia is just a piece of finnish plastic **** that is for people that "can't afford good phons" N86? wtf!? n86 goes down the drain versing this phone!

 

chrissy posted a comment   

i love this phone:) it is a sexy phone...
i want it:o
xoxo

 

amir posted a comment   

It breaks my heart each time I read such review about SonyEricsson products. I used to love Sony Ericsson and Sony products.

What the hell are they thinking?? Instead of trying to come out with a trillions models in a year which no one will buy, why can't they dedicate the effort on just a few good models for Symbian, Android and Windows Mobile??

Build a good fan base.

Good quality reliable products, so the can compete with Apple and HTC.




Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro

  • Summerlun

    Summerlun

    Rating1

    "Finally sold this phone after 5 months of torture."

  • Ya Mum

    Ya Mum

    Rating10

    "Gee you guys must hate this phone. No need to down grade it so much. Sliding the keyboard feels like sliding a rusty gate, WTF!? EVEN I CAN WRITE A BETTER REVIEW! BUILD QUALITY? WTF IS BUILD QUALIT..."

  • chrissy

    chrissy

    "i love this phone:) it is a sexy phone...
    i want it:o
    xoxo"

CNET Speedtest
WHERE TO BUY

More Mobile Phones

Recently Viewed Products