Until about 2 years ago, I refused to get a cell phone. Exhibit A on why is simply that I was in college and had no money, so a $100 a month cell bill was out of the question. Well, times changed and I graduated, and people began to become somewhat annoyed that they couldn’t reach me at all hours of the day and night, so low and behold I had to choose a cell phone.
As a seasoned electronics consumer, I did what we all do and started reviewing the options in my price range. That range was in the $250-$350 price range, but I had some stipulations. I wanted to use the internet and be able to tether the phone via Bluetooth, USB, or whatever other magic the cell company came up with. An extension of this tether ability is that I wanted to have an internet compatible phone, meaning an lcd with more than 600 pixels to display things, and a candybar-ish layout. None of this flip phone crap, thank you very much. I also did not need a keyboard, as me and T9 text prediction get along just fine, thanks. These attributes narrowed my search greatly, but at the time, the hot new ticket was the iPhone, but my friend Sang Jun in the Computer Science department at CSU had the K790a phone, which was intriguing to me.
The k790a had a 3.2(!) megapixel digital camera which could also do video, an FM radio, and best of all, it happens to be a Java based phone. The K790a also had user expandable memory and a user replaceable battery, and was tri band. The iPhone, however, had a gigantic screen, and WiFi connectivity which was unique to only 1 other phone in my price range at the time, an HTC(at the time, who the heck is that?!?) brand phone. A minor setback though is that the iPhone required iTunes to operate, and if there is one application I hate, it would be iTunes, for all its “Take over your computer” annoyingness. Rumor had it that the iPhone was going to be available in 3G later on, but at that time, no date was known. Ok, scratch the iPhone, I am sold on the K790a.
I have had the k790a phone for 2 years now, and could not be happier. One of the best features is that it is java based, so I can take advantage of cool apps like MidpSSH and also use the Opera web browser to make my cell experience that more effective. This might be kinda nerdy, but the server from which you are reading this text can be rebooted from my cellphone. The phone has built in Bluetooth as well, which was somewhat uncommon at the time, but is now ubiquitous. It can use any mp3 as a ringtone, and I quickly bought a 2GB memory chip for it, which at the time was a steep $70, but worth every penny. It has voice dial, and came with a wired hands free setup in the box. My next objective is to figure out a way to turn the iR port into a channel changer.
The phone performs all of the functions of a blackberry, handling pop and imap email and even push email, and it integrates with outlook to sync calendaring information from bluetooth or usb. It has obsoleted my alarm clock with its ability to set an alarm for Monday through Friday, including snooze functions, and dutifully turns the alarm off for the weekend so I can sleep in. I don’t carry a digital camera anymore, because the camera has the same ccd sensor size as my standalone digital camera, but seems more tolerant to a variety of lighting conditions. It even has an RSS reader built in, and a text to blog system that existed long before twitter was cool.
Finally though, the best feature of the phone is my ability to make calls pretty much anywhere I go. I know this factor is as much network dependant as anything, but this phone on the then cingular, now AT&T network has never been without at least 2 bars, even in the basement apartment I lived in for a year. I never loose calls and never have issues with call quality, so kudos to the Sony Ericsson and AT&T crew.
My only complaints with the phone have nothing to do with the phone functionality at all. My only complaint is with the integrated camera, and that is that it has no optical zoom whatsoever, and the flash is worthless for anything farther away than about 4 feet, even with the reduction in intensity equivalent to the inverse square of the distance factored in. But the iPhone doesn’t even have a flash..
Other blogs and people have reported issues with the joystick main control button going limp on the phone after a certain period of time, but it has been 2 years with no issues for me.
If given the choice, I would buy it again, and I definitely will buy future Sony Ericsson phones with a similar feature set. The phone is a great conglomeration of devices, significantly reducing my need to carry many separate devices as so many people do.
The Sony Ericsson K790a gets 25/25 ninja stars from mycomputerninja.com.