Finally, the s710a Arrives

Tuesday, February 22, 2005, at 02:51PM

By Eric Richardson

So I got a new phone today. I've been anxiously awaiting the release of the Sony Ericsson s710a for quite a while now, so when it finally appeared I couldn't hold off too much longer before ordering it. I placed the order yesterday around noon via cingular's website. The phone was delivered this morning at 9am. That's what I call good turnaround. I can't say I'm an expert just yet, but I've played with the phone enough by now to be able to give a first impression type review. Summary: good, not perfect.

I'll start right out with the biggest problem I have with the phone: there's no way to turn off or turn down the camera shutter sound. That may sound like just a little thing, but believe me it's not. This is a "feature" that comes from a heightened fear for privacy. I understand that concern. But what I understand more is that the sound is just loud and obnoxious. If you're inside everyone within thirty feet will hear you taking a picture. Even when no one's around I feel awkward about taking pictures because it's just that annoying.

There are remote unlock services that claim to be able to remove the shutter sound (I think through reflashing with the sound file not included), but that's a sketchy route I'm very hesitant to take. The problem's annoying enough that I'd consider it, though.

With that out of the way, lets get to positives...

The camera lives up to its billing. Check out this night shot taken out my apartment window. That's great for my purposes since all I really care about is sending stuff to the web.

The form factor is a little thicker than I might want it to be. It feels about the size of a digital camera, though there are certainly smaller cameras to be found. The camera lens cover is very nice.

It's true that the swivel is not a one-handed operation. Most of the time this isn't a problem, though. Receiving a call you're most often going to just use the phone closed. You only need to open it to get to the keypad. The only problem I have with the swivel is remembering which way it goes. It'll open in either direction, but it doesn't go 360 degrees -- it'll only return that first direction.

Shoving the keypad off the front leaves room for a huge half-VGA screen. The menu system is largely the same as on the T616 and its kin, but its more animated.

I used bluetooth to transfer my addressbook between phones and it worked flawlessly. I've also used it to transfer pictures to the computer.

The phone comes with a MemoryStick / compact flash reader, and I've successfully mounted the included 32MB MemoryStick Duo under Linux. I copied an mp3 to it and then played it back on the phone using the included headphones.

So, yeah, other than the super-annoying shutter sound I'm happy.