Sony Ericsson has been pushing the multimedia angle since its relaunch, and the Vivaz HD is next in line to its 12-megapixel Satio, also Sony Ericsson's first device to record in high-definition. We had a play with it at Mobile World Congress .
Look and feel
The Vivaz HD is an impressively slim, light phone considering its high-def video credentials. It's a full touch device just slightly larger than a palm, with a glossy chassis in blue, red, black or white. According to product planner Maiko Ishida, the device actually looks thinner and smaller than it is thanks to the 'polarised' colouring effect - one area reflects light while its surroundings absorbs it, looking darker and hence 'shrinking' the device. Whatever it's actually doing, it does look stylish.
Its interface is like that of the Satio's, with a toolbar at the top of the homescreen with shortcuts to web, bookmarks and gallery, whose icon is actually the last snapped photo.
Under the hood
The eight-megapixel camera is capable of recording and playing back in 'nanoHD' (technically this is the resolution all HD phones record at, so it's on level with its peers), and also packs some other interesting video features including a first for mobiles - central focus, which means the phone is able to automatically refocus its lens to whatever object is in its center. Its processor is an impressive 720Mhz, one of the faster chips available, but we were a little disappointed to find that the 3.2-inch touch-screen is the lower-end resistive type. At least there's a 3.5mm audio jack, and a TV out port to throw your HD goodies onto the big screen (though they won't look quite as sharp there). Its internal memory is a puny 75MB, but the phone comes bundled with an 8GB memory card.
Sony Ericsson showed off some impressive footage shot with the Vivaz HD, and demonstrated how quickly the phone was able to switch from a long-distance focus on a building in the video background, to an object placed up close.
The video camera is a cinch to fire up and use, and comes with several editing and setting options.
The touch-screen was generally responsive, though we had to press harder than with other screens and it felt just a little slower. Unfortunately, the age-old problem with Sony E's touch-screen keyboards hasn't been solved, and the keyboard here just wasn't fast enough to keep up with seasoned texters, missing a letter every few letters. It's Sony Ericsson's first Symbian S60 smartphone but with no central app marketplace for Symbian, you'll find it more difficult to get the apps you want.
The Vivaz HD is a feature phone that should impress any trainspotters of the video-phone market. It packs some impressive firsts for mobile video and is certainly no ugly duckling either.