Fantastic Voyage – Xperia 2011

Following the progress of the 2011 Xperia range certainly makes for interesting viewing.
When I got the X10HD in January I was suitably impressed with the handset, however a big step was taken with the Arc, moving from plain old black to the glossy purple, shiny-shiny veneer of the Arc, which quite obviously trumps the X10HD in terms of style and grace.

However, what’s more fascinating to me is charting the evolution of the handsets and the technology contained therein, from the Arc through to the Ray. The Arc was quite a large handset, purposefully designed to be sleek and slim but to cram as much tech onboard as possible. The Neo was supposed to be out at the same time as the Arc but was delayed due to production issues following the tsunami in Japan in March.

Released at the end of June. It has the same features as the Arc, albeit a slightly smaller screen, throws in a front-facing camera, but still manages to be smaller than it’s predecessor. Sure it’s a bit chunkier overall, but it does more than the Arc could do (Skype video calling is brilliant!) and does it very well.

In fact if I’m going to be honest and totally biased, it’s a blinder of a handset, probably in joint first place with the amazing k800i. Considering 6 months ago Sony Ericsson were top of my shitlist, for the Neo to come along and go straight to the top of the list, that’s saying something as:

1. I’m not very forgiving
2. I still love the k800i handset!

Moving on, the Xperia Ray, due out late August/early September has very similar specs to the Neo but has managed to squeeze the same features into an even smaller chassis probably a teensy bit bigger than a 5 th generation of iPod Nano.

First up for the Ray, software improvements. Those of you who read my blog would know I complained bitterly back in April about the lack of digital zoom on the Arc handset, when it had been in place on the X10HD. Why release a phone with Exmor-R capabilities and BRAVIA picture improvements and then take a step backwards by removing zoom capabilities? Madness!

So, at a recent Test Lab meeting I thrilled to be able to play with the Ray for a bit and discovered improvements to the camera software. Yes, digital zoom is back! Hurrah!

Coming back to the physical aspects of the Ray, there have been some necessary sacrifices to accommodate the reduction in size; we lose LED flash (replaced with a horrific photo-light, similar to the travesty that blighted the X10HD) and an HDMI port.

These sacrifices may mean a lot to some (dirty photo-light), but when you consider the phone retains the front-facing camera, the 8.1 MP rear camera (still with 720p HD video) the 1GHz Snapdragon processor and throws in some subtle but welcome software improvements, that’s impressive.

And for the handsets to go from the size of an iPod Classic to just about iPod Nano 5G size (and I mean ‘just!’) in a mere 6 months (Arc –Neo –Ray) that’s very impressive indeed.

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