Sony Mylo Hands On

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The Sony Mylo (MyLifeOnline) offers a great suite of tools in a very small and funky package. Sony’s latest personal communications device has all the right features for a sure fire hit, but it lacks in a few areas. The slider allows the QWERTY keyboard to remain hidden while not in use. The 2.4-inch screen is vibrant and takes care of visuals very nicely. The Mylo is being marketed towards someone in my age group, 18-24, but I lost interest in it pretty quickly. Let’s keep in mind that most of the Mylo audience exists on college campus’ so there’s reason enough for me not have a great interest in the device. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the media capabilities and WiFi functionality. If you’re looking to buy one don’t be deterred because it has plenty of desirable features, but I’m just a picky person and I <3 my Sidekick3 (most of the time). The Mylo is not a cell phone, but it sure does look like one.

Let’s start with the positives and the list is quite long. The UI was fairly intuitive and easy to navigate through, much like the Sidekick. The best feature is WiFi, 802.11b, and it’s easily activated by pushing the slide button on the top left corner. It also supports WEP and WPA-PSK. A WiFi strength meter is lit up in white on the bottom left corner of the screen otherwise it the meter is grayed out. If that isn’t enough the right side lights up blue to let you know WiFi is active.

The suite of IM clients includes Yahoo, Google and Skype. AIM is currently not supported but a Sony rep tells me it could be on its way shortly. Yahoo messenger is stripped down and seems pretty generic, but that’s not a bad thing. Google Talk works flawlessly and I didn’t have any problems with it at all. I was skeptical about Skype on the Mylo, but I was pleasantly surprised. Voice quality was much better than on my Mac even with the included headset/mic combo. In fact, Internet service was better in every way when connected to my home network. It also helps that you get a free year of T-Mobile hotspot service. This came in pretty handy when I was out and about in the city. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to use the Ad-Hoc application because I never found anyone that had a Mylo so I couldn’t share my playlists or stream audio.

Multimedia on the Mylo was very easy to navigate through and adding/removing content was fairly straightforward via the mini-USB. The onboard 1GB of flash memory and Memory Stick Pro Duo slot can keep you entertained for quite some time. The player supports MP3, secured and unsecure WMA as well as ATRAC audio formats. The supported video formats include MPEG-4/AAC.

Now let’s talk about the downside to the Mylo. First off is WiFi. Wha?! Chances are you’re like me and you always want to be connected. NYC has plenty of free WiFi spots and Starbucks, but it’s a pain to go searching when you need to check emails or IM someone. On the flipside, the Mylo includes a free web service to tell you where all the free WiFi spots in your area are.

The QWERTY keyboard blows for a number of reasons. The keys are not very distinctive by touch because they’re way too small. A lefty will appreciate the placement of the space bar, but it was the first gripe I had with the Mylo. The speaker placement on the back caused me to turn up the volume more than I would have liked. Like I said, I’m really picky. I didn’t like the placement of the Home key, which is due to the fact that I’m used to the Sidekick.

There is also no email client and the formatting of certain web pages was a real hassle. You do have the ability to zoom in and out of pages, but you shouldn’t have to worry about formatting. For a communications device, why did Sony skimp on the most crucial feature?

Last but definitely not least is the price tag of $350. It’s a lot for a communications device that can easily be forgotten and left in your desk drawer. I’d rather lug around my iPod and SK3 than the Mylo. I don’t think it’ll be around much longer if the rumors about VoIP coming to the PSP are true.

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