Sony Ericsson Equinox TM717 - carbon black (T-Mobile) review: Sony Ericsson Equinox TM717 - carbon black (T-Mobile)

The Equinox's 3.2-megapixel camera shoots photos in four sizes and two quality settings. Editing options include three color effects, a night mode, white balance, brightness adjustments, 14 frames, a self-timer, panoramic and multishot modes, and four shutter sounds plus a silent option. There's also a 3.2x digital zoom, but it's usable at the lowest resolution only. Photo quality was decent, but we noticed some image noise and a pinkish tone to most of our shots. Colors were bright and images were sharp. Unfortunately, there's no camera flash.

Videos meant for multimedia messages are capped at 1 minute, 15 seconds. In normal mode, you're limited only by the available memory, which is a generous 100MB of internal shared space. The Equinox doesn't come with a memory card in the box, though the slot can accommodate cards up to 16GB. The camcorder offers a few editing applications.

The Equiniox's photo quality is acceptable.

You can manipulate your finished work with the integrated PhotoDJ and VideoDJ applications. After that, you can transfer the photos and clips off the Equinox in a number of ways. We used a USB cable and we're glad to see that our PC recognized the phone without any software.

For music fans, the Equinox offers a digital player that is similar to those on Walkman-branded phones. Features include playlists, shuffle and repeat modes, and an equalizer with Sony's Mega Bass. Transferring music to the phone is an easy process through a USB cable, Bluetooth, or a memory card. The player interface is simple and utilitarian, and it supports album art. You can activate an airline mode for listening to tunes while flying, and you can send the music player to the background while using other phone functions. The Equinox has an FM radio.

You also get a couple of GPS options with Google Maps and support for TeleNav. The latter offers turn-by-turn voice-assisted directions, local maps, traffic, and a search feature for locating nearby points-of-interest and business. You also can add geotagging information to photos that you take with the phone's camera. .

Rounding out the Equinox are apps for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. A unique Comeks feature lets you create comic strips using photos from the phone's camera. Gamers can choose from two titles: Bubble Town and Real Football 2. Of course, you can always get more options from T-Mobile's t-zones service with the WAP browser. You can personalize the Equinox with a variety of wallpaper, display themes, screensavers, and alert tones.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Sony Ericsson Equinox TM717 in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was generally acceptable. Voices sounded natural, the signal was clear, and we encountered no static or interference. The volume could be a bit louder, but it was sufficient in most situations. The only times we had real trouble was when we were in places with a lot of background noise. As mentioned, the Equinox also supports T-Mobile's 3G (AWS 1700/2100) network.

Callers reported a similar experience. They could tell we were using a cell phone, but they could hear us plainly most of the time. Like us, they only had trouble if we were in a noisy place; most of our friends said that the Equinox picks up a lot of background noise. It was the same story with automated calling systems; our voices registered if we were in a relatively quiet place. Speakerphone quality was average. The audio on our end was a bit distorted and the external speaker doesn't get very loud. Fortunately, Bluetooth headset calls were better, but your experience will depend on which headset you use.

The Equinox has a rated battery life of 10 hours of GSM talk time and 4 hours of 3G talk time. The promised standby time for both modes is 16 days. During our tests, it had a talk time of 4 hours and 15 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Equinox has a digital SAR of 0.90 watt per kilogram.