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Hands-on with the Sony Ericsson Idou

CNET gets a brief tour of the Sony Ericsson Idou.

Now playing: Watch this: Sony Ericsson Idou

The Sony Ericsson Idou may just be a concept phone, but I had the opportunity to handle it while visiting the company's booth at the GSMA World Congress. Indeed, a press pass has its benefits, as other show attendees could gaze at it only in a glass display.

As the Idou is not a finished product, the Sony Ericsson rep wouldn't let the model out of his sight. We had a similar experience at CES 2009 when we examined the Palm Pre--we could touch the outside all we wanted, but we couldn't get an extensive tour of the phone's inner workings.

But even with a short tour, I came away with favorable impressions. Though it doesn't break any new design ground, the Idou is a striking handset in many regards. The 3.5-inch display covers almost all of the phone's front face. Colors were bright and graphics were rich and vibrant. Of course, the Idou displays video in landscape mode. On the whole, the media experience looks quite promising.

The Idou should be a media machine. Kent German/CNET Networks

The touch-screen interface appears to be pretty intuitive and user-friendly. We saw shortcuts to the camera and phonebook and we spied dedicated touch music player controls. On the bottom of the display are dedicated touch controls for the main menu, the video player, the messaging in-box and the search function. When selecting items the display appears to be pretty responsive.

Below the display are three physical controls including the Talk and End buttons. They're a tad thin, but nothing that we couldn't live with. In the right spine are a volume rocker, a camera shutter and media player controls. The left spine has the standard proprietary headset jack/charger port. After Sony Ericsson had decency to put a 3.5mm headset jack on its new W995 Walkman, we're disappointed that the company couldn't do the same with the Idou.

The camera lens on the rear side has a sliding cover. Opening the cover will start the camera automatically. There's also a flash but we didn't have the opportunity to test it. The Idou resembles a standalone camera from behind and it offers similar ergonomics.

As we mentioned earlier, we didn't get an extensive tour of the Idou's inner workings. Yet, we did see the nifty photo viewer interface. It has a filmstriplike effect where you can move between different photos by swiping your finger. It's attractive and it appears to be responsive. Finger swiping also works in other areas of the display interface.

The Idou's photo gallery interface. Kent German/CNET Networks

That's all we can tell you for now. As we told you at the start of the Barcelona show, Sony Ericsson is holding most feature details close to its chest. The company will make a formal announcement of the Idou by the summer. At that point it also will reveal the phone's official name. Rest assured, I'll review it just as soon as we can, though I imagine that it will be a while. In the meantime, check out the Idou photos.