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Sony Ericsson Satio review: Sony Ericsson Satio

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The Good Fantastic photo quality; quick shutter speed; useful xenon flash; sliding lens cover; high-quality music reproduction; Wi-Fi connectivity; GPS; FM radio; good on-board apps.

The Bad Proprietary headphone jack; fiddly resistive touchscreen; new apps are hard to find and install; keyboards are no fun to use; inconsistent user interface.

The Bottom Line Sony Ericsson's do-everything media phone pumps out fabulous pictures and great sound, but, due to an irritating user interface, unresponsive touchscreen and proprietary headphone jack, the Satio's just no fun to use

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7.5 Overall

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This review of the Sony Ericsson Satio is the story of a love that almost was, but could never be. We trembled at the Satio's spectacular photo quality and zippy shutter speed, and then recoiled at its disappointing resistive touchscreen and complicated Symbian user interface. Our hearts melted over its excellent music quality, and then froze at the sight of its proprietary headphone jack. O Satio, Satio! Wherefore art thou, Satio?

The Satio is available for free on a £35-per-month, 18-month contract, or you can pick it up for £500 SIM-free.

Shutter love bug
With the Satio, Sony Ericsson promised that it would take its excellent Cyber-shot camera phones and Walkman music phones, smash them up, and rebuild them into a super phone, the like of which has barely been dreamt possible.

Close-up photos, taken in bright sunlight using the Satio's default 9-megapixel setting, are clear and vivid (click image to enlarge)

One aspect of the phone that doesn't disappoint is its camera. This 12.1-megapixel monster takes the best shots we've seen from a camera phone, nearly beating our inexpensive compact camera at its own game. We found the Satio couldn't quite capture the detail of reflections and textures that we saw in our compact's photos, but it does a fantastic job of capturing a clear, clean image. Colours are slightly over-saturated, but otherwise accurate.

The Satio's default camera setting captures wide-format, 16:9, 9-megapixel images. At this setting, we were very impressed by the phone's speed. Sliding the plastic lens cover quickly starts the camera, and there's very little delay between pressing the shutter button and taking a photo. At the camera's full, 12.1-megapixel resolution, we found that there was a slight delay as the camera wrote the larger image file to the memory card. The 12.1-megapixel setting improves the clarity of the image, though, so it's worth using if you're planning to crop your photo tightly.

Photos taken with the 12.1-megapixel setting are sharp, delivering accurate colour, even when using the flash in a dark room (click image to enlarge)

The Satio has an LED photo light and a xenon flash. We were very impressed by the natural-looking illumination of the flash. Our photos in dark conditions looked almost as clear and bright as our well-lit shots. The camera also recharges quickly, so you can take photos briskly one after another. That's a significant advantage over the Samsung Pixon12 M8910's slow-charging camera, for example.

Don't talk to us about 3.5mm headphone jacks
We can't say enough good things about the Satio's camera, and we were similarly happy with its music quality. Sony Ericsson's Walkman phones rarely let us down, and the Satio pumps out great tunes.

We listened to classical, electronic and pop MP3s on the Satio using some beautiful Audio Technica headphones, and found there was an almost imperceptible difference in sound quality compared to a SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 player.

Unfortunately, Sony Ericsson has saddled the Satio with a proprietary headphone jack, which it shares with the charger and USB cable. This discovery left us rending our garments and demanding ancient forms of punishment be inflicted on those responsible. We'd hoped the lovely W995 Walkman was proof that Sony Ericsson had left this concept behind forever, especially in terms of its flagship phones. But, no, it hasn't.

There's an included adaptor that adds about a metre to the cable length, so you could end up throttling yourself in time to music. The proprietary jack also means that you have to unplug the headphones every time you transfer music, since you need to plug in the USB cable to do so. But the Satio does have stereo Bluetooth, so it could stream to a set of wireless headphones.

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