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Sony Ericsson Vivaz pro review: HD gets a Pro flavor

Gsmarrena have posted a review of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro. Here are the phone's key features, main disadvantages and their final impression.

Key features:
* 3.2" 16M-color resistive touchscreen of 640 x 360 pixel resolution
* 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, face and smile detection, geotagging and touch focus
* HD 720p video recording @ 24fps with continuous auto focus
* Symbian OS 9.4 S60 5th, topped with a custom-brewed homescreen and media menu
* 720 MHz CPU, PowerVR SGX dedicated graphics accelerator
* Quad-band GSM support
* 3G with HSDPA 10.2Mbps and HSUPA 2Mbps support
* Wi-Fi b/g; DLNA
* GPS with A-GPS support
* microSD card slot (up to 16GB, 8GB card in the box)
* Built-in accelerometer; Turn-to-mute
* TV out
* Wisepilot navigation software preinstalled (30 day trial)
* Four-row QWERTY keyboard
* Office document viewer
* Stereo FM Radio with RDS; TrackID
* microUSB and stereo Bluetooth v2.0
* Web browser with full Flash support
* Decent audio quality

Main disadvantages:
* Camera downgraded from 8MP on the regular Vivaz
* No camera lens protection
* The S60 5th edition UI isn't the best in usability
* No auto locking of the screen during a call
* No DivX or XviD support out-of-the-box
* No smart or voice dialing
* No secondary videocalling camera

We’ve had plenty of positive things to say about the Sony Ericsson Vivaz pro and some not so positive. In the end, it’s how the pros and cons balance. It looks like a simple trade-off: still camera downgraded, QWERTY keyboard added. But hey, keeping the compact size is quite an achievement.

The hardware QWERTY is the obvious improvement over the vanilla Vivaz. The still cameras are in different leagues but the 5MP snapper on the Vivaz pro is very near the best in class and the 720p video capabilities haven’t suffered.

The thickness and weight went up, but in the world of slide-out QWERTY the thickness is to be expected and the weight of the Vivaz pro is more than reasonable. The Motorola MILESTONE is slimmer (13.7mm) but weighs a good 48 grams more. In fact, the Vivaz pro is 3 grams lighter than even the petite Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini pro.

The software side of things is unchanged from the first Vivaz. We like what Sony Ericsson have done with the homescreen, the media and the camera UI but Symbian S60 5th edition has a few updates that still haven’t made their way to the Vivaz pro – basic usability upgrades like kinetic scrolling in list and grid menus.

It’s hard to find a competing phone with both hardware QWERTY and 720p video recording, but if you’re willing to go down to D1 or VGA video, there’s quite a lot to choose from.

An option from Sony Ericsson is the XPERIA X10 mini pro. It’s super compact and uses the more touch-friendly Android OS (though only v1.6 Donut) and has a respectable 600MHz CPU. The camera is 5MP again but the video is no match at VGA@30fps. So, there are some compromises to be made when picking the X10 min pro over Vivaz pro, but the diminutive size and better OS are two compelling points in X10 mini pro’s favor.

While we are on the subject of Android, we can’t help but mention the Motorola MILESTONE (a.k.a. DROID Stateside). It’s slightly thinner and the 3.7-inch screen of 480x854 pixel resolution is brilliant. The keyboard is excellent and there’s an 8GB microSD card in the box. The major downside is that the MILESTONE records videos in D1@30fps tops.

If you insist on having both 720p video recording and a hardware QWERTY, the alternatives to the Vivaz pro are very few. Unless you happen to live in South Korea (in which case, check out the LG Optimus Q), the only real alternative oddly enough seems to be the Microsoft Kin Two.

It’s got a bigger (though slightly lower-res) screen, an 8GB built-in memory expandable by a microSD card slot. The camera is an 8MP sharpshooter with 720p video recording. The whole thing runs on NVIDIA’s Tegra platform, but the OS is much more limited than Symbian. It does have all its social networking bases covered though.

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz pro is not perfect, but the camera is keeping it afloat. Still images are good enough and 720p video is a premium feature to have on a phone. The QWERTY keyboard is the real premise though for the existence of the Vivaz pro. Users like to have a choice, and makers seem to understand that. Even if it means investing into niche products. The Vivaz pro will appeal to the always-connected crowd, and sometimes that’s just enough for a handset to do well.

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