Sony Ericsson P800 – the CAD-Reviews independent review

A useful alternative to a laptop?

Sony Ericsson P800 review screenshot

Sony Ericsson P800 from Sony Ericsson

As things hot up in mobile phone and PDA integration, new opportunities arise for mobile working.

If you do not wish to permanently carry around a laptop, the Sony Ericsson P800 may offer a useful alternative.

Despite its diminutive 117 x 59 x 27 mm, equivalent to many mid size phones, the P800 offers a tri-band GSM phone and a full Symbian OS 7.0 with UIQ stylus-based graphical user interface PDA with a crisp 208 x 320 pixel 4,096 colour display.

OK so its not a 21″ monitor but should you need to access 2D drawing files remotely, the third party VISIARC System is available.

This provides immediate secure encrypted mobile access and viewing of drawings via a server-side drawing archive, the ‘Interaction Server’ held corporately or as a subscription based hosted portal service.

AutoCAD DWF, Microstation SVF, HP-GL/PLT (generic plot format) and Continuous Acquisition and Lifecycle Support CALS general open raster format files are supported and are surprisingly usable with simple zoom and scroll commands.

The viewer saves the latest downloads locally to ensure that drawing details can be viewed where there is no network coverage and there is a built-in function for wireless syncing when a connection is established to the server to ensure the latest revisions are being viewed.

This integration of local functionality and data with remote access is also exploited by a number of other applications for the P800.

These include Traffic-i that uses the well established Traffic Master service for live hold-up information.

There is also the Wayfinder service that combines a remote Global Positioning receiver that communicates with the P800 via Bluetooth with access to the Wayfinder servers via GPRS to download route plan maps plus verbal and icon instructions.

Although early days for this service with UK postcodes not yet implemented, once destinations have been identified it works very well.

The P800 itself offers extensive functionality.

It syncs to a PC via USB including Outlook calendar, contacts, tasks, notes and email although of course the ease of remotely syncing email while on the move is one of the great benefits over trying to orchestrate a separate phone and PDA.

But web access via the acceptably fast GPRS service with the supplied browser or third party Opera browser is also surprisingly useful once conveniently located in your pocket for a Google search or street map on tap! Document viewers are also usefully supplied to deal with email attachments including an excellent word wrapping Word .doc viewer but currently somewhat slow PDF viewer.

Although only 640 x 480 pixels and with a tiny lens that gives slight distortion at the corners, the integrated 24bit camera is always on hand to catch design images or even portraits of contacts that can be assigned to address book entries to appear Thunderbird style to identify incoming callers.

Other entertainment features include an MP3 player and remarkably sophisticated 3D games.

12 MB of system memory is available for data and applications.

This can be expanded using Sony’s compact Memory Stick DUO format that can be used in standard Memory Stick slots with the supplied adaptor.

Symbian is intentionally open for developers and a huge range of Java applications ranging from file managers to instant messaging and chat are already available to download directly using the browser or to install from a connected PC.

Given the strong personal preferences I have encountered with mobile devices, it is not surprising that the P800 is supplied with a flip open phone keypad that can also be removed for use as a true PDA with a ‘virtual flip’ for dialling if required.

If like me you want all the benefits of a PDA with connectivity in a carry-anywhere package, the P800 has much to offer.