Tools Of The Trade: The Sony Ericsson P990i smartphone

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The Independent Online

Sony Ericsson's P900i smart- phone was one of the first serious attempts to combine the features of a mobile and a personal digital assistant (PDA). The P990i is more evolution than revolution but in many ways it represents the cutting edge of smartphone technology.

The P900i broke new ground with its touchscreen, handwriting recognition and easy-to-use email software - as well as offering a camera and music player.

The P990i has all this too, but more. The main improvements include a wireless LAN connection and support for 3G mobile networks. The P990i still supports handwriting recognition but adds a small keyboard behind the phone's flip front. The camera has been upgraded to two megapixels and now has autofocus. The software is based on the Symbian operating system and the UIQ graphical interface, which makes the device easy to use despite its wide range of features.

Sony Ericsson, though, has taken a slightly different approach to designing a business smartphone to some competitors. Nokia, for example, has not fitted its E61 email phone with a camera or an easily accessible memory card slot - features that are both built in on the P990i.

These might seem frivolous additions but the camera on the P990i is probably good enough for many business users who need to take pictures during the working day. Add in the ability to send images over either a WiFi link or a 3G network, making a separate digital camera excess baggage.

The P990i can also be used for web browsing and downloading email. While the email software in the P990i is reasonable, heavy users will probably want to subscribe to a "push" service where an external server pushes messages on to the phone.

As yet, the P990i is too new to work with many of these services, such as Vodafone's Business Email, though it is likely that support will be added soon.

Nor is the internet browser as effective as the latest Nokia versions, and the P990i does not have built-in software for voice over the internet. But because the phone runs the Symbian operating system, it is relatively easy for developers to add applications.

Overall, the P990i is a versatile business tool with enough entertainment features to make it attractive for personal time too. Recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pros: good feature set, excellent camera, WiFi.

Cons: business software set not as comprehensive as some rival phones.

Cost: around £590 without a contract.

Contact: w