- Fun and easy to use
- A bit expensive
The mylo is a small wireless device that allow users to exchange instant messages, browse the Internet, listen to music, send emails, make voice calls, and view photos.
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It sports a small keyboard and Wi-Fi short-range wireless networking.
Almost — But Not Quite — a Handheld
The mylo offers many of the features some people have become accustomed to in a handheld computer, but not all of them. This has caused fans of more standard devices from companies like Palm and HP to criticize the mylo as too limited, especially at its price.
I think these people are being too harsh. They are accustomed to general-purpose devices, while the mylo is a special purpose device mostly focused on communication tasks.
There can be advantages to having a focus on just one or two functions. One of them is ease of use, and mylo delivers this well. There’s a home screen that clearly lists each task to do, and you can scroll between these quickly and easily.
It also does a decent job of the tasks it sets out to do, although some are handled better than others.
But I have to acknowledge one of the criticisms of this device: it does what it does and that’s all that it does. There’s no adding additional software to extend its functionality.
I’ll start off with one of the mylo’s strengths: instant messaging.
It comes pre-loaded with clients for Google Talk and Yahoo! Messenger. I use Gtalk all the time, and the mylo version is close to what I’m used to on my PC.
IM is one of the functions that the mylo can handle in the background, so you can be signed in to receive messages while you’re surfing the Web.
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This model’s built-in keyboard makes typing up messages a breeze. You just slide up the screen and start typing.
You can put the mylo aside and let it keep waiting for instant messages to come in. It will alert you with an alarm. During this time the screen is off, but naturally Wi-Fi has to be on.
An AOL client would have been nice, though.
Web and Email
The mylo doesn’t come with a dedicated email application. Instead, it depends on Web services like Google Mail.
I don’t count this as a big strike against this device. It’s mostly targeted at teenagers and young adults, and these people are heavy users of Web-based services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail. And you have to admit, setting up a Web email account is much easier than a regular one.
The mylo uses a version of the Opera web browser, but this isn’t the latest or greatest. It works perfectly well for something like the mobile version of Gmail, but when it comes to handling regular Web pages things aren’t as nice.
I’m not saying it’s useless, but the browser’s practice of jumping from link to link when you’re scrolling through a page, no matter how far apart these links are, can make reading an article online something of a challenge.
Basically, it’s usable enough if there’s something you want to read online and the mylo is your only option, but I really wish Sony had put a better version of Opera into this model.
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The mylo isn’t a phone, but you can still use it to make voice calls thanks to a built-in version of Skype.
This lets you call someone who is also a Skype user and talk back and forth completely free of charge. The other person might also be talking on a mylo, but they don’t have to be; there are versions of Skype for a wide variety of devices, from desktops and laptops to handhelds running Windows Mobile. These are available for free, so your friends can download one very easily.
When you’re talking, you hold the mylo to your ear, just like you would a phone. It has a small speaker and microphone on its front just for this purpose. Or you can use the included headset, which works like the the ones for mobile phones.
You can even use Skype to call regular phones, but this costs money.
Audio, Video, Etc.
As you would expect from a mobile device intended for teens and young adults, the mylo comes with a music player. It also can play videos.
You can transfer multimedia files onto it by hooking the mylo up to your computer’s USB port. When you do this, it will appear on your PC as a removable hard drive, and you can transfer files across.
What might be a better option is using a Memory Stick Pro Duo card. These come in sizes up to 4 GB, giving you storage space for a fairly significant number of songs. Naturally, you’re going to need a card reader for your PC if you want to transfer music or video over.
If you don’t want to get an external card, you can use the mylo’s 1 GB of built-in memory.
The mylo has a set of hardware buttons specifically dedicated to controlling audio and video. You can jump forward or back, and control the volume with these.
It comes with a set of headphones. These have a standard connector, but they must be plugged into an adapter to hook up to the mylo. This is necessary because these are also used for making voice calls, and the adapter also has a microphone in it.
Music: The mylo can play songs stored in ATRAC, MP3, or Windows Media Audio.
Video: It can play MPEG-4 videos on its QVGA, 2.4-inch screen. I wish I could test this feature more, but converting the files for playback on the mylo requires Sony’s Image Converter 2 application, which for some reason Sony won’t give me.
Update: Since I wrote this review, I’ve been able to use Hagiwara Sys-Com’s Easy Recorder 2, which can record TV programs in a format that the mylo will accept. You can record a show onto a Memory Stick, then pop it into your mobile device to watch whenever you want to. It’s convenient and, at about $120, not too expensive.
Images: This device can also display images. If you have a Sony camera that uses Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, you can take the card out of your camera and put it into the mylo and start looking at them immediately.
The feature I miss the most is a calendar. I’m a little surprised Sony left this out; teens have schedules, too. But maybe Sony decided teens were less likely to actually use a calendar.
The mylo also doesn’t have an address book, per se. But its various applications save the contact information for people you use them to communicate with, whether it’s through Skype, Gmail, or something else.
There have been complaints that this device doesn’t have Bluetooth so you can use a mobile phone to connect to the Internet. I can see both sides of this issue. It would be nice, but so far this has been something only a few people do. And Wi-Fi is becoming amazingly common. You can easily load your mylo up with locations offering free wireless networking, and then go hunt one up.
Still, if you don’t have Wi-Fi at your home and school or office, then this probably isn’t the product for you.
You can make the case that a mobile device is only as good as its battery. Fortunately, the mylo is equipped with a good one.
I put it through what I consider is a fairly typical day. I made a Skype call lasting about 20 minutes, then I spent two hours exchanging instant messages. After that, I put the device on standby, and it lasted roughly eight hours.
When on standby, the mylo’s screen isn’t on, but it’s connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot and it’s checking for incoming instant messages.
That’s fairly impressive battery life. I don’t see how anyone could ask for much more.
I like the Sony mylo. It’s easy and fun to use, and looks really cool.
It’s not cheap though: $350. Still, if you’re someone who is regularly in range of a Wi-Fi access point, and likes to exchange IMs and emails while listening to music and don’t have a laptop, then this might be a good device for you.
Or if you have a son or daughter who is constantly tying up the family computer chatting with his friends, this could make a great gift.