Sony Mylo – 8 weeks of college lunch money

  • October 27th, 2006

UPDATE 11/5: This review unit is available for sale on eBay. Sold.

Prior to this review, I had the impression that Sony had created a respectable mobile communications device suitable for instant messaging and VoIP users. True to the sales pitch, the Sony Mylo, or “My life online” delivers – to a certain degree.

Mylo hands on assessment

Inspecting the media glamorized features and factory specifications on SonyStyle.com. What is there to complain about? I’ll go through the nitty-gritty and “glamorize” where the device falls short preventing it from being a solid Wifi-limited communications device.

Until users manage to get their hands on an actual unit, they are completely unaware of how far the device falls short of expectations – strike that, where Sony falls short. Ignoring the hefty $350 price tag (or about 8 weeks of lunch money for the average college student), the initial “Mylo gadget magic” soon subsides.

The sliding screen is hiding an uncomfortable keypad

Slide the PSP-esque plastic display up to reveal what looks like a standard mobile friendly QWERTY keypad. Look only, don’t touch. The moment your finger touch the tactile-less keys, you immediately realize how much of a nuisance tapping out messages will be. Anyone with average width fingers will have an extremely difficult time registering keystrokes; be prepared to peck at keys with your thumbnails in order to ensure your words are displayed as they should be.

Mylo keypad is useless when the lights go out

Fisher Price creates toddler toys with more tactile feedback and attention to keyboard usability than Sony did with the Mylo.

The above comment is no exaggeration. What’s more surprising the the fact that Sony opted to go the touch typist route by neglecting to add any type of backlighting. Why? The device has a constantly pulsing light when connected via Wifi. Why not go the extra step and add a few LEDs under the keys?

Instant messaging bundle minus AIM

Why enter a mobile communications arena without the single largest messaging network bundled as part of the software package? Although the current Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and Skype clients all carry their own weight – chat, file transfer, and profiles – nothing competes with the likes of AOL / AIM.

OS X / Sony video transfer headache?

Why does Sony insist on creating headaches for users? Why require software for transferring files to and from the device? Plugged-in via USB, the unit mounts as a standard USB mass storage device. Why not leave it at that and let users manage their own files via drag ‘n drop [respecting the default file heirarchy] rather than dumping Sonicstage on to Windows users or leaving OS X users to fend for themselves? Headaches I tell you! All I want is to move some of my unviewed Lost episodes from my MacBook Pro to the tiny bean shaped unit. Will someone show me the way?

The Sony Mylo is a sound investment?

I don’t think so. If you have an extra $350 lying around, invest that money into a Smartphone which allows you to do everything this device does – browsing, MP3, photos, video, and phone calls – anywhere your adventures take you. With the exception of Skype, the Sony Mylo carries little value in comparison to your standard Windows Mobile, Blackberry, or Palm powered devices. Target audience of late high school & college students? Most of these kids are already carrying fully featured handsets more capable than the Mylo could ever be for the same or less (price-wise).

In an effort to boost sales, Sony and T-Mobile have teamed up to offer Mylo users free internet access at any one of thousands of T-Mobile Hotspots across the country (read Starbucks) through the end of 2007 [via]. Sony promises that a unique certificate delivered to the device via software updates will allow Mylo users to log on at any T-Mobile Hotspot bypassing the standard web authentication required for standard laptop / PDA users.

I consider Seattle to be incredibly wired (meaning blanketed in free Wifi) and the Mylo serves as nothing more than a solution to saving cellphone minutes. $350 for a Skype handset anyone?