Introduction

Sony Ericsson are on the move recently and the Aino is very much part of the agenda. But living in the shadow of the Satio and X10 is not much fun we guess. So, the Sony Ericsson Aino is keen to live a double life. At first glance, it’s a touchscreen PMP, but on a second look it’s a regular slider phone with an extra big screen. It’s not the ultimate PlayStation phone but it does have Remote Play, to wirelessly pair with Sony’s PlayStation 3.

Sony Ericsson Aino official photo Sony Ericsson Aino official photo Sony Ericsson Aino official photo
Sony Ericsson Aino official photos

As far as feature phones go, the Aino has pretty much everything – excellent connectivity, full-featured navigation, a great camera, plenty of internal storage and a simple-but-snappy touch media menu.

By the way, don’t let anyone tell you touchscreen functionality is limited to the proprietary Sony Ericsson multimedia menu. We were pleasantly surprised with Opera Mini, which seemed to quite agree with the Aino touch system. Touchscreen navigation is all there and it performed very smoothly. This means touch controlled Java games might work as well.

All right, this was just a single little secret revealed. Let’s take a closer look at what else the Aino may be hiding there.

Key features

  • 3″ 16M-color capacitive touchscreen, 240 x 432 pixels
  • Quad-band GSM support
  • Tri-band 3G with 7.2Mbps HSDPA, 2Mbps HSUPA
  • 8 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash; geotagging, touch-focus, face detection, image stabilization; VGA video recording @ 30fps
  • Some degree of touchscreen functionality – touch-enabled media and camera interface
  • Touch works in Java apps as well, e.g. Opera Mini
  • Built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS; Trial version of Wisepilot navigation software
  • Wi-Fi with DLNA
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Stereo Bluetooth 2.1
  • microSD card slot
  • Wireless Bluetooth headset with 3.5 mm audio jack and nice headphones, desktop docking station and 8GB microSD card in box
  • Remote play for Playstation 3

Main disadvantages

  • No standard USB port
  • No 3.5mm audio jack (but there’s one on the Bluetooth headset)
  • Touch control is limited to camera, gallery, multimedia players and some Java apps
  • Media library updates very slowly in the touch media menu
  • No DivX/XviD support
  • No xenon flash
  • No camera lens cover

The box contents are a sweat deal too – the matching desk stand and wireless headset would fetch a pretty high price as a separate purchase, but with Aino they are part of the experience. And the 8GB microSD card in the box should be enough for most people.

Sony Ericsson Aino photo Sony Ericsson Aino photo Sony Ericsson Aino photo
Sony Ericsson Aino live shots

Uncomfortable questions start to emerge though – the Remote Play feature doesn’t really do much more than DLNA and is useless with anything but PlayStation3. The touch functionality sounds great but not having it in the built-in browser sucks.

But asking these questions is missing the point. If you owned the original PlayStation, then upgraded to PlayStation 2 and have the 3rd version sitting next to your BRAVIA set, well this love letter in the shape of Sony Ericsson Aino is addressed to you.

 Sony is a company that never ceases to amaze me. Every time I think that it can’t produce another groundbreaking product, it does just that. When I looked at the Sony Vaio X505 ultra-slim notebook earlier this year, I was amazed at how small and light it was, while remaining a usable mobile tool. But with the Vaio Type U, Sony has created a mobile computer that makes even the X505 look big, writes Riyad Emeran.The Type U is about the size of that ill-fated PDA pioneer, Apple’s Newton MessagePad. Its exact dimensions are 16.7 x 11 x 2.8cm, with a weight of 550g. However, whereas a PDA is a device that’s designed to do some of what a PC can do, the Vaio Type U actually is a PC. Despite the small dimensions, there’s a complete set of PC components hiding inside that brushed silver and black chassis.

Sony Vaio U70 with 'fin' stylus and remote control

For starters, there’s a 1GHz Intel Pentium M CPU backed up by 512MB of RAM, although the integrated graphics use will use a minimum of 8MB of that. There’s a 20GB hard disk, which is small by modern notebook standards, but you’ve got to remember how much Sony has had to squeeze into such a small casing.

Dominating the front of the Type U is the 5in TFT screen. With a resolution of 800 x 600, it’s a little low by notebook standards but very high by PDA standards. The screen is bright and vibrant, and the viewing angle is surprisingly good, considering that the device is going to be directly in front of you when you’re using it. The screen is also touch-sensitive which is pretty handy.

Pointer control comes courtesy of a thumb stick that brings back memories of the Toshiba Libretto, which used a similar device imbedded in its lid. Pressing the thumb stick inwards is equivalent to pressing the left mouse button, while at the top left corner of the fascia is a group of three buttons that represent the left and right mouse buttons, along with a scroll-lock button. The latter is particularly useful when you’re scrolling through web pages. Above the thumb stick is a four-way rocker pad that serves as your cursor keys, while there’s a button in the centre that selects the highlighted option.

The bottom right corner also houses three buttons. One of these controls the brightness of the backlight, another takes you into a hardware set-up menu populated with volume control, brightness, mute etc. The third button fires up a rather strange handwriting recognition/text entry utility that I couldn’t quite get the hang of. Now, before you think that I shouldn’t be reviewing a PC if I can’t figure out the applications, let me point out that the Type U is only available in Japan, so everything on this device, including Windows XP, is Japanese.

The final two buttons are in the bottom left corner, and are labelled Zoom and Rotate. The Zoom button will change the resolution of the screen – you can drop it down to 640 x 480, or push it up to 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024 or 1600 x 1200. Of course the higher resolutions present you with a virtual desktop that you have to scroll around. The Rotate button spins the display into a portrait format, which can be very handy when you’re reading a long document.

On the left side of the chassis is the power switch, a hold switch to stop any buttons being pressed inadvertently, and a headphone socket. The headphone socket also accepts a Sony type remote control and thankfully one is supplied in the box, complete with backlit display. On the right is a single USB port, a hardware switch for the integrated 802.11b wireless adapter and a control+alt+del button – absolutely imperative for any Windows-based device.

Sony Vaio U70

On the top you’ll find a standby button, a MemoryStick slot and a CompactFlash slot. It’s good to see that Sony is giving you the option of using a different memory card format from it’s own MemoryStick. Here you’ll also find a couple of clips that hold the battery in place – the battery takes up the whole back of the device.

Nokia is going full force into expanding their mobile mapping service by offering to buy US-based Navteq for a massive US$8.1billion. Navteq is a company which develops digital maps for the car industry, satellite navigation devices, internet-based mapping applications and solutions for the government and business markets.

Early this year, Nokia rolled out their mobile mapping service called Smart2go. I even have a post about the review of Smart2Go, which was done by a reader of mine, Hafiz Ismail.

Nokia Mobile Mapping Service

“The navigation area is a fast-growing business, and with location-based services expanding rapidly into mobile communications devices, the industry is poised for even further growth,” Nokia said in a statement.

The news of Nokia is acquiring Navteq proves to be one of the key steps to strengthen their leadership in mapping service for mobile phone. If the acquisition is successful, it aligns perfectly with Nokia’s vision to enable everyone to find their way to people, places and opportunities on mobile communications devices, cars, desktop computers and in all the other places that are important to them.

Apple iPod Nano has evolved to the 3rd generation, now with larger and brighter display. The design of its casing somehow doesn’t change much and still consists of an anodized aluminum top and polished stainless steel back. You might already been getting bored of the original casing and want something different?

Platinum Nano Original

Well, the world’s first platinum Apple iPod Nano is soon to be launched by the UK’s Goldstriker. Unlike the conventional casing, the platinum plated iPod Nano uses the most precious metal and it sure look more glamorous and style.

Platinum iPod Nano

Platinum iPod Nano

Goldstriker have already received many requests and orders even before the official release of platinum iPod Nano 8GB in January 2008. Goldstriker will sell the unit at £399.95 each, which is equivalent to about US$825.

Sony PocketBit USB Drive

After releasing its 16GB Memory Stick PRO Duo media, Sony has now introduced its new PocketBit USMGLX USB drive with capacities between 1GB up to 16GB. This PocketBit USMGLX USB drive ofers a reading speed of 31Mbps and a new case with a LED light, give you a neat and elegant feel. It is compatible with Mac and PC, and ReadyBoost for Vista user.

The PocketBit USMGLX USB drive is now availabe in Japan at around €212 for 16GB.

These new Intelligent Stick USB flash drives will boom for those careless people who would spill water, coffee, etc. on their electronics or get them exposed to rain. I can’t think of a time when I’ve got a gadget too dusty to use, but these tiny flash drives can even cope with that. Manufactured with a special COB process, they’re available in 2GB and 4GB in a number of colors, and are due to be unveiled at CeBIT this week.