The Sony Ericsson Zylo is SE’s latest Walkman phone, capable of handling lossless audio files as well as offering an equaliser and a whole bunch of customisation features. Could this be the music phone you’ve been waiting for? Read on to find out.
What we like
The Sony Ericsson Zylo is doesn’t occupy much pocket space and fits neatly into the palm of the hand. The handset is comfortable to hold and easy to get to grips with - the slide-out keyboard clicks comfortably into place and its keys have a clear rubber finish which makes it easy to dial numbers and text on.
The Zylo’s music player comes with a 5-band equaliser, with 9 presets and the option to create your own customised preset. So if you’re fond of listening to hip hop music at the back of the bus, you can crank the bass all the way up for full-on commuter annoyance.
The Zylo is also the first Sony Ericsson phone to offer playback of lossless FLAC files. This is good news for people who feel that MP3’s and AAC’s just don’t cut it quality-wise and want a purer digital music listening experience. We downloaded a program to rip tracks from CDs as FLAC files and bunged a few on the Zylo. We couldn't tell much of a difference between FLACs and MP3s played on the Zylo but audiofiles might.
The music player comes with a number of animated backgrounds like a reel-to-reel, mixing desk, vinyl player, and a Sony Discman CD player. The best of the bunch has to be the cassette tape though – not only does the ‘tape’ spool across from side to side when a track is playing, but the track and artist name are also written across the label of the tape, giving your lovingly-crafted playlists a cool old-school mixtape feel.
Creating playlists on the Zylo is a doddle. After naming your list in the Playlists folder of the music player, you’ll be given an overview of all of the MP3s in the Zylo’s library. Adding songs is a simple case of scrolling through the list and ticking the checkboxes of the songs you want added.
We like that the Sony Ericsson Zylo gives you the option to view text messages as threaded conversations. It’s easy to add pictures and sound files to text messages within the text editor, without you having to go into a separate MMS folder.
The 3-megapixel camera comes with basic effects like sepia and monochrome as well as a number of white balance settings for gloomy locations. The picture quality isn’t bad although there are certainly more powerful camera-phones out there. Snaps taken on a 3-megapixel camera will also suffice for Facebook profiles.
The Facebook app on the Zylo also gives you the option of two modes, Advanced and Basic. Advanced mode allows you to check the news feed, post new statuses, view profiles, photos and notifications and check your inbox. Basic mode, as its name suggests, is a stripped down affair that gives you access to the news feed and the ability to like and add comments to people’s status updates. This is good for when you’re in an area where there’s a lack of 3G or the signal isn’t great and you just want to keep track of what people are saying. You also won’t be wasting battery power struggling to download the Advanced version of over a GPRS connection, which will eat into your data plan and potentially be expensive.
We called a number of different mobiles and landlines on the Zylo and found voice quality to generally be fine.
What we don't like
Not having a 3.5mm audio port is bad enough in our books, but on a music phone it’s a double no-no. The Zylo relegates you to using the bundled FastPort headphones; admittedly these aren’t terrible sound-quality wise and aren’t too uncomfortable. That said, we’d much rather have the option of being able to use whatever headphones we want.
This also negates the Zylo’s FLAC-playing abilities somewhat. Proper audiophiles who want to listen to FLAC files are probably going to want to listen to them on some top range headgear. If this sounds like you might want to invest in a FastPort-to-3.5mm headphone adapter.
Sometimes we found that the camera would take a picture a split second before the autofocus had had time to do it’s focus properly, resulting in some messy shots. The lack of a flash also really limits you to daytime snaps and pictures taken in brightly lit areas.
Annoyingly, the Sony Ericsson Zylo has tucked its Twitter app away in one of the sub menus of the camera. When browsing through the picture gallery there’s an option to Send to Twitter which allows you to upload your pictures to your Twitter profile. While this is obviously a useful feature and not a bad thing at all, it’s a bit of a workaround having to go through this entire process when you just want to check a few tweets on the go.
This is also the only way you can access Twitter on the Zylo out of the box. Although you can download the Snaptu app for free from the PlayNow store, it seems odd that the fully functional Twitter app already installed on the phone can only be accessed in such an awkward way.
While we think that having a Basic mode for browsing Facebook in low 3G areas is a great idea, we wish that the Zylo came packed with Wi-Fi. Not having Wi-Fi means that you can’t check Facebook in any of the many open wireless hotspots going which would be much kinder to your data plan and faster.
Some websites didn’t render terribly well on the Zylo’s browser. Links are often bunched together and appear out of place. The comparatively small display and limited navigation offered by the keypad means that the Zylo doesn’t lend itself to browsing the web.
The Sony Ericsson Zylo does well at being a basic slider phone that’s comfortable and easy to use, complete with a solid music player. Unfortunately the Zylo’s music playing capabilities are spoiled by the lack of a 3.5mm headphone slot, and the handset’s functionality is limited by awkward menu layouts and poor web browsing capabilities.