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Photo galleries: exterior, applications, web, photos samples

With the “Put the fun of a PC in your pocket” tag line, Sony is going after the “young adults” crowd. The company thinks that there are not many devices that would allow students to have good “mobile entertainment” (as defined below), without paying an expensive wireless subscription fee. This is true and that’s the idea behind the Mylo 2.

Although the original Mylo did not have the success that was hoped by its maker, Sony has learned a lot, and it designed the Mylo 2 to address the weaknesses of the first one. In this review, we will put the Mylo 2 to the test and share our thoughts with you. Feel free to ask questions, share your opinion or write your review (if you own the Mylo 2) in the comments section at the bottom of the article page.

Every device is engineered to solve a problem, and the Mylo 2 has been built to provide “good” mobile entertainment and communications. For Sony, that means:

  • Desktop-like web browsing
    • Including Flash games and web video
  • Good email support
  • Broad instant messaging support
  • Social Networks
  • VoIP


Improvements over the first Mylo

Mylo Mylo 2
WiFi B (11Mbps) WiFi G (54Mbps)
320×240 display 800×480 touch display
No back-lit keyboard Back-lit Keyboard
No camera 1.3 Megapixel Camera
No customization Removable faceplate
No file upload/download File upload/download supported
No widgets Widgets supported
No RSS Intgrated RSS reader
$349 $299
5.16 x 0.82 x 2.55″

Physical description

First, let’s take a quick look at the device too see how it looks and what are its physical properties and functionalities. Mylo 2 has about the same size than its predecessor. It is slightly on the bulky side, and is even larger than a Nokia N93i, but it is a definitely a pocket device. [photo gallery]

A few user interface (UI) elements are visible from the outside: a joystick on the right provides 4 directions + click on the left side of the screen. A microphone is located on the right. On each side of the display, there are a few touch elements:

  • Options: the equivalent of a “menu”
  • Disp: toggles the application UI elements (menus, buttons) to reduce the clutter on the screen
  • Back: go back to the previous screen
  • Info: opens a “task manager” to switch from one application to the next
  • Mylo: brings you to a Netvibes-looking page that contains Widgets
  • Home: back to the main menu


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More physical design photos

QWERTY keyboard

The keyboard slider feels solid, much more than most smartphones that I have seen, except for the i-mate 9502. The keys are flat, but surprisingly they have a good tactile feedback. The key spacing is large enough to avoid mistyping issues common to smaller keyboards. Finally, it is a backlit keyboard, which is indispensable when texting in dark conditions. Overall, I am happy with it.

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More physical design photos

The display is the computer

Someone I know used to say that, and it applies very well to the Mylo 2: You will immediately notice how awesome the display is, thanks to its 800×480 resolution – that’s 2.5 times the number of pixels of the iPhone’s display! (which has 480×320 pixels). With such a screen, “Desktop PC web browsing experience” starts to be true. The text on websites is readable without zooming in and out, but if you want to, it is possible to zoom. This unbelievably crisp display is the most important asset of the Mylo 2, in my opinion, and I can only hope to see more devices with a similar screen in the near future.

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Applications photo gallery

Computer Sync

The Mylo 2 connects to a computer as a USB Mass Storage device (like a Flash drive), or by using the Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), a protocol used by Windows Media 10 and above to access Media Players. Both protocols are mutually exclusive and in this review, we used USB Mass Storage.

Applications

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is very well integrated in the Mylo 2. Four major IM clients are supported (AIM, Skype, YIM, Google Talk) and although MSN isn’t in the list, you can still chat with your MSN buddies from an Yahoo IM account, if you have one. All the IM clients have a similar user interface, which is convenient and consistent. I noticed that it is not always possible to filter-out the contacts that are not online, and that can be annoying if you have many of IM contacts.

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Applications photo gallery

RSS

A basic RSS reader has been included, and although it shows the headlines, it does not provide a preview/excerpt. You will have to follow the link and open the web browser to read the content. It is something that needs improvement. At the moment, I would still like to use Google Reader instead.

Web

Overall, the
web browser is good. We have tested several popular sites like CNN, Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo, Google Maps, Digg and … Ubergizmo icon smile Everything worked fine, without needing to zoom. Unfortunately, the current browser does not work with Google Reader and Google Docs. The server returned an “unsupported browser” error. That is probably due to the Javascript support, but it is just my guess.

Flash seems to be fully supported we tested YouTube and MetaCafe. Both worked fine, even if the video playback wasn’t as smooth as on a desktop PC.

Although it is mostly OK, links are sometimes hard to click on because of the small size of the characters (when no zoom is applied). It would be necessary to improve this in the future.

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View more popular sites on the Mylo 2

Music

A powerful device like the Mylo 2 can certainly play music files. I quickly dropped a few MP3 files via USB and voila. The volume was plenty loud (there’s an option to protect from hearing damages in the settings) and the sound quality is good. The sound quality is probably limited by the default earphones, but the point is that the Mylo 2 sounds like a good MP3 player. It supports MP3, AAC, WMA and ATRAC.

The Mylo 2 does not have a standard jack (!), so you will have to use the adapter found in the box. This adds additional cable clutter, unfortunately.

VoIP

Placing calls with Skype worked like a breeze, much better than on my Windows Mobile phone, for sure. It is best to use earphones because the speaker is a little weak even when you are indoors. With earphones, it works really well and it is comparable at what you would get on a PC. (The Mylo 2 had 3/3 bars of WiFi reception when I tried)

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Applications photo gallery

Photos Viewing

If you have some room to spare, you can copy your favorite photos to the Mylo 2. Given how good the screen is, this device is a very good photo viewer. There is no need to re-scale high-resolution photos. We tried to view a 1728×1152 photo and the Mylo 2 did a very good job at downscaling the photo to the native screen resolution. However, a 3504×2336 photo was deemed “unsupported” by the viewer application.

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Applications photo gallery
Camera

The 1.3 Megapixel camera will produce photos that are comparable to a cellphone camera – probably because it is a cellphone camera. At the moment, I have not been able to record movies, and I don’t know if there is a plan to support movie recording when the Mylo 2 launches.

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Photo samples

Video Replay

The videos provided by default in the Mylo 2 were encoded in Mpeg4, 320×240, 29.97FPS, AAC audio 48Khz, Stereo. They play smoothly, although during fast action sequences, I could see compression artifacts. I wonder if the Mylo 2 could play Memory Stick movies originally intended for the Sony PSP. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Right now, you can expect video too look like the standard 320×240 videos on an iPod.

Text Editor

The integrated text editor works like Windows Notepad. It is simple and does not support formatting, but having a notepad is always a good idea for a QWERTY device

Homepage

The “Mylo” button in the (vertical) middle-right of the screen brings the user to a “home page” that looks like Netvibes or iGoogle. Third party applications can be installed, and it is not yet clear if Sony will tightly control the widget application distribution. What we can say is that Widgets are downloadable from the web, or installed from a Memory Stick card.

Developers: Sony will create a developer website and provide an SDK, we will keep an eye on the announcement, and we will let you know. This has not been confirmed to us, but because you can download a widget from your PC, it doesn not look like Sony is going to try to have a tight control over the applications.

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Networking

The Mylo 2 can connect to WiFi G networks. This is quite an improvement over the WiFi B featured in the first Mylo. The main drawback with WiFi is how scarce free hotspot are (remember, Mylo 2 was trying to avoid the data subscription fee). To avoid this, Sony Mylo 2 customers will have a free access to Wayport’s WiFi network that includes 9000 McDonald’s, hotels, airports and other venues. (wayport.net)

WiFi LAN

WiFi is easy to configure. By default, the Mylo 2 scanned and connected to an unprotected network, which is probably the best behavior if you are outside of your home. If you want to connect to a particular network, you just have to enter the Network settings, choose a network and enter the password. We tried it with a WEP-protected network and it worked.

WiFi AdHoc

The Mylo 2 can also be connected with other Mylo 2 to form a peer-to-peer network. That would allow a user to listen to someone else’s music wirelessly. We do not have more than one Mylo 2, so right now, we can’t tell you how well it works, but it is reasonable to expect it to work well.

Update 1/14:This section was based on an early unit and documentation and we have since learned that the AdHoc feature has been removed from The Mylo 2 (codenamed COM-2)

Storage

There is 1GB of built-in memory, and it is possible to extend the storage by using a Memory Stick flash card (about $50 for 4GB, 8GB is the largest capacity today).

Battery life

The Mylo 2 uses a 3.7V, 1200mAh battery. After 24 hours of playing and testing it (not continuously), Less than half of the battery remained. I would say about 30%. That’s equivalent to a busy day of use (for me), in my opinion.

Accessories

  • Charging Cradle
  • Color FacePlate
  • AC Adapter
  • Extra battery and charger kit
  • Screen Protector

Conclusion

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Photo galleries: exterior, applications, web, photos samples

I was not very excited by the first Mylo, but I have to admit that the Mylo 2 is a nice surprise. Technically, the display is brilliant and the device fulfills its goal. Creating a mobile device requires a concerted effort between hardware, software and design teams is really hard to pull off. The Mylo 2 brings a solution for having a better mobile entertainment, w
ithout paying hundreds of dollars in subscription pr year (for a slower network). The idea of cutting a deal with Wayport is excellent, because accessibility is WiFi’s weak point.

Sony has done a tremendous step forward from the original Mylo and now, we will see if consumers want to buy a connected device that is not a phone. I’m definitely not in the 18-22 group anymore, so it’s hard to guess. Although the cost of ownership of a Mylo 2 can be an order of magnitude less than using a “fruity phone” (over a couple of years), the “cool” factor of the competition should not be underestimated. Again, feel free to share your thoughts, questions and review in the comments section.

Note: this review was done with an engineering sample that uses a development version of the firmware. While I did notice that some function were slow, like the YouTube (flash) videos, I’ll reserve my judgment for now. Potential buyers should pay attention to the performance when the Mylo 2 comes on the market. We will try to follow-up as things unfold.

Availability: End of January 2008, $299

Filed in Gaming >Reviews >Top Stories. Read more about CES and Hands-On.

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