Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 review: Larger than life
User interface: Timescape meets Mediascape
The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 runs version 1.6 of the Android OS which seems a bit outdated now that version 2.1 is already available on several handsets. The interface has been thoroughly customized though with Timescape and Mediascape. Plus, v 2.0 compatibility is in the picture too.
The two custom add-ons aside, it’s the well known Android interface we find here. You get three homescreen panes full of widgets, shortcuts or folders, and a main menu, which is pulled up from the bottom of the screen when needed.
A major advantage of Android is the notification area. It's a thin bar at the top of the screen with status info about battery, signal strength and others such as Bluetooth or missed events. But if you slide it down you get a list of all recent notifications - that's the so-called notifications area.
Since you can open the notification area from wherever the top bar is visible, new events won't interrupt your work. You can pull the tray down like a window blind just enough to see more details about what has happened and if it doesn't need your immediate attention you can let it roll back up and continue where you left off.
To bring up the task switcher on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 you can press and hold the Home key just like on any other Android phone. It allows you access to the six most recently used apps.
The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 takes full advantage of the powerful hardware – the fast-ticking 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and the massive 4” capacitive touchscreen. The UI is lively and fluid, and looks quite attractive too.
Here is how the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 compares to its predecessor, the HTC Legend in terms of performance. We used the free Benhcmark and PiBenchmark apps from the Android Market for the test and the results are here for you to see.
There are plenty of Android smartphones these days so you should already be familiar with the standard Android UI. Indeed, all the homescreen, lockscreen, menus and notifications have been re-designed to give the X10 a completely different feel than its Android siblings.
But the changes are visual mostly, so we’d better concentrate on the real new stuff here. Namely, the Sony Ericsson Timescape and Mediascape add-ons.
They are actually two applications which should make your life easier, more connected and more fun. The Timescape will be your link to the world, your communicator, while the Mediascape is a media player to bring all your media contents together.
In other words, the Timescape and the Mediascape provide a novel and integrated way of accessing and managing your communications (including social networking) and your multimedia content.
Timescape, the ultimate communicator
The Timescape brings all your communications together. It displays an aggregated view of your SMS, MMS, email, call log, Facebook and Twitter updates. Timescape has a tabbed structure, allowing you to filter the contents by type and get all relevant information in one place.
With Timescape you can not only see the latest activities and updates from your contacts but also share your own status, reply to received messages or call back if you have a missed call.
You can set Timescape as your default homescreen and let it act like a full-blown UI. In this case the different tabs for various communications will be displayed on top of the screen. On the bottom you’ll see 4 virtual buttons (shortcuts to Mediascape, phonebook, messaging, dialer). You will always get back to the Timescape screen when you hit the Home key.
The advantage is you’ll have nine homescreen panes but they will all be communication-related. You’ll have to sacrifice the widget-inhabited homescreen panes of the stock interface.
If – alternatively – you stick with the standard Android homescreen, the Timescape will be just another app on your main menu. However, it will keep doing what it was meant to.
The Mediascape UI is actually no UI
The Mediascape is an application that brings together all the media content you can use on the handset – both local and online. We can simply call it a fancy file browser and a media player. But we would be oversimplifying things.
Unlike the Timescape, the Mediascape cannot be set as your default homescreen, so we’ll be taking a closer look at it later on in the media chapter of our Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 review.