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Monday, March 07, 2005

Sony Ericsson P915/P1000

UPDATE: You can find additional P915/P1000 concepts discussion elsewhere on this weblog, here.

I really should read Engadget more regularly. On February 27 - I just discovered this - they had a little entry about the possibility of Sony Ericsson announcing the successor to their P910. The SE announcement, said Engadget, could come as early as March 1. Well, that date has passed and still no word. Still, something is in the offing for this year.

Engadget got its info from the forum of Russia-based site Mobile Review, which apparently has the inside track on these developments (or claims to). One of its forum participants even made a (purely fictional) mockup of the upcoming device.

I doubt the P-whatever will look anything like this. At least, I certainly hope it doesn't. Way too much like the Benq P50 brick.

I think the big challenge for Sony Ericsson, with the P series, is the QWERTY keypad. This keypad seems to be pretty much an afterthought on the P910, and not a very good one at that. For such a keypad to be really workable in this form factor, SE engineers will to have to design something really innovative, and with the ergonomics thoroughly tested. The keypad on the Treo 600/650 would be a good place to start - the convex buttons on these phones feel solid and are actually operable by feel. The downside, for me, is that the keypad here is fixed and takes up too much real estate better devoted to a larger screen.

Whatever form it takes, though, the new P series device has to offer, in my view, and at a minimum, a speedy, top-of-the-line processor, such as the 220 MHz ARM 5 found in Nokia's 6630; at least 64 MB RAM-flash memory (but preferably 128); a one megapixel or better camera, preferably with flash; Bluetooth; UIQ3 - use of two hands has to be an option, not a requirement; and, most importantly, 3G capability. The later in the year this comes out, the more important this capability is. By this time next year, no higher end phone will be less than 3G capable.

Perhaps SE will do the smart thing and leverage Sony's imaging technologies in upcoming camera phones, including the latest in the P series. This might mean giving the new P device a DSP chip dedicated to imaging (a la Sendo X). It will definitely mean utilizing the imaging algorithms, and perhaps one of the CCDs, used in Sony's digital point-and-shoot cameras. In any case, I suspect that since it will be coming out toward year's end, SE will leapfrog ahead in megapixels, to something like two or three. Otherwise, the thing will be outdated before it hits the streets.

Parenthetically, I've seen a lot of comparison in various SE forums, between the P series and Nokia's 9500 Communicator. When I was in the Cingular shop recently, picking up my piece of crap, tide-me-over, walled garden flip phone, a woman game in, visiting from New York, with her new 9500 (which she bought, she said, on the "gray market" - for $1000. Nothing gray about that figure). Man, that thing was HUGE - much bigger than I'd expected. The 9500 is, I'm sure, a happy sight for those who long for the old Psion devices; but if Nokia thinks North American business people are going to buy them in any numbers, they've obviously been smoking too much Norwegian wood (I guess that would be Finnish wood), or spending too much time in the cold. People who are nostalgic for Psion devices have, I think, too much influence at Symbian - and apparently at Nokia, as well.

But, anyway, I hope by the end of this year Sony Ericsson will have introduced a P series phone that is truly exciting, one that I can buy, use, and keep for a good long time. I'm looking forward to it.



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