On top of this, the screen is touch-sensitive, and uses capacitive technology so responds to the lightest of touches, though doesn’t work with gloves on (as resistive screen’s do). However, bafflingly, Sony Ericsson has made it so the screen only works when the phone is closed. Not only that but, when closed, you can only use the media interface. This gives access to the camera, which likewise can only be used when the phone is closed, as well as to the music and video players, picture viewer, and FM radio. We can see that Sony Ericsson has decided not to have touchscreen enabled all the time to avoid confusion and also to prevent the need to completely overhaul the operating system and we certainly value the resulting simplicity. However, we’re pretty sure there could have been a bit more crossover without too much effort.
According to Sony, a major focus of the Aino is its use as a multimedia player. As such you get a rather nifty docking station and Bluetooth headset adapter in the box. The docking station holds the phone on its side ready for viewing videos – this is of course where the touchscreen comes into its own – and has plugs around the back for a charger as well as an AV connection, a cable for which is provided. Sadly said cable is nothing as fancy as HDMI but instead provides composite video and analogue stereo audio output. There’s also a plug on the dock for charging and storing the headset adapter so it should always be charged and ready whenever your phone is.
The Bluetooth headset adapter itself, which measures 63 x 16 x 19mm, has a call answer button on the front, music playback controls on one side and a touch-sensitive volume slider on the opposite side. A power button on the bottom and a 3.5mm jack on the top complete the button roster. A downward facing clip on the back makes it easy to attach the adapter to an item of clothing or bag strap.
Obviously the unit connects via Bluetooth and, when turned on, is instantly recognised by the phone. It’s very nice to use and provides great audio quality, though we’d rather have normal buttons for the volume rather than the touch-slider. Furthermore, the very short cables on the supplied headphones (42cm from the plug to the left, 80cm to the right) rather limit how you can wear the ensemble. This is a shame as the earphones are perfectly decent, feature good noise isolation and come with a selection of rubber tips in different sizes.