In Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt’s fascinating book Freakonomics, the concept of the significance of a name is brought under a microscope. They used data from a case where a sadistic father named Robert Lane decided to call his second-last born son Winner and then as proof he was on drugs, called his last son Loser. You know… for kicks. Surprisingly, neither boy killed their father and instead went on to lead normal productive lives, which for Loser meant becoming a Sargent in the New York Police department, and for Winner meant being arrested more than 30 times. They used that as proof that naming bears little correlation to the success of a person throughout their lifetime.

That siad, naming should still be important in marketing, which is something I would expect Sony Ericsson to understand. Satio , Aino and Vivaz sound like the mumbling of a drunk toddler who has not grasped the concept of consonants. So, when the question is will the Vivaz be a great phone despite its name?

On first impression, it didn’t look good. This is the first phone I have reviewed where there has actually been issues turning it on. Pressing the “ON” button once illuminates the screen, and then after 5 minutes of waiting, it was discovered that the top button has to be held in for a few seconds after that so you can gain access to your phone. The top button is the source of more malcontent as locking requires it be tapped twice. Which created another first with the Vivaz, it is the first touch screen phone that I have reviewed that is capable of pocket dialing.

Luckily, the dialling won’t go unnoticed as each tap of the screen is accompanied by a little vibration of the phone, making you feel like you are not using the awesome touch screen technology you just spent so much to acquire. While on the subject of typing, the phone has one of the more odd keyboard systems around. You can select either full QWERTY keyboard, which requires the phone to be horizontally orientated, a “mini” QWERTY which fills up the bottom of the screen when orientated vertically, but squishes itself onto the right hand side of the screen when orientated vertically, leaving a big patch of blank screen. It also has a handwriting option, which like all other handwriting options, doesn’t work. So after two days of fumbling around with this oddly named phone, I was ready to give up on it. Which would have been a mistake for a number of good reasons.

Firstly, it is exceptionally good looking, with a design that portrays elegance and style, but also has the pragmatism to fit exceptionally well in the palm on one’s hand. The touch screen itself is immaculate, and after 500 words it’s time to mention that this is the first phone I have played with that sports an HD screen. It’s not just fodder for the HD-brainwashed masses, having a higher resolution screen really does make a noticeable difference in both viewing pictures and makes watching videos on your phone both socially acceptable and tolerable.

This awesome screen is paired with an equally awesome camera, clocking in at 8.1 megapixels – that’s a lot. The pictures are sharp, the colours vivid and the flash actually makes a difference, unlike most other cellphone flashes. The camera has another rather cool feature that you’ll probably never use; you can record video in HD (720P) and upload them to YouTube direct from the device, which will molest your data bundle. I suppose it is nice to know that I can upload to YouTube in HD if I want to.

Like most Sony Erricsons, its music player is nowhere near as good as its camera, with the music player having the most basic of features, plateauing at a “shuffle” function, and annoyingly has to be told that you want to keep listening to music after you leave music application. That is one the blight on what seems to be a great user interface. The home screen allows you to select up to three home screens that can be are navigated through by swiping your finger in either direction. They are preset homescreens, not allowing the user to have full control over thier contents like Android. But the screens that are preset are very useful; there is a page linking you straight to your twitter account, a page with your browser favorites and a final page taking you to you contact list. This is accompanied by a shortcut tab at the bottom of the screen which leads to the dialling pad, the media app, messaging and a search function, making for pretty seamless navigation.

There is a steep learning curve, but once it has been mastered, the phone really does become great fun to use, and with a host of extras such as an app that identifies music, games by EA, a built-in facebook app and even a water level, there really isn’t much Sony Ericsson haven’t thought of putting into it.

This is one of those cases where you can’t judge a book by its title, as it really is a great phone, even if it’s name sounds like it was shouted from a Veitnamese whorehouse. Yes, it has a steep learning curve, and yes, it is called something really funny but you know what, so is Gal Gafot, but I wouldn’t mind having her either.

Arieh Esra
Assistant Editor

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail