June 28, 2009
Sony's Mylo COM2 (Mylo) is one of those "almost great" gadgets. It has several strengths like a crystal clear screen, a slide out keyboard, a web browser and supports Skype for chat messages and to make voice calls! However, Sony fumbled badly in marketing and advertising this device. The general public did not know the Mylo existed. Sony also fumbled in its tech support. Their tech support people woefully lacked basic knowledge of the features of the device. Also, some obvious features are missing on the Mylo (See Usability Issues Below).
As a consequence, Sony has all but admitted they are phasing out this gadget. However, if you use Skype and have good access to wifi, I think the Mylo is still a worthwhile purchase.
I wanted a device that uses Skype because now that's pretty much all I use when making phone calls. I also have constant access to a wifi signal in most places where I go. I originally bought the Belkin Skype Wifi Phone mainly because it was advertised on Skype's website. There were problems with the Belkin phone. The main problem was the Belkin phone did not have a web browser so you couldn't sign into access points that require it. So the Belkin phone could only be used on access points that do not require a web browser to sign in. This limits it's use to the home or other very friendly places.
I bought the Sony Mylo COM2 last year in November so I've had several months of experience with it. The device was hard to find. You couldn't find it in stores like Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, Radio Shack, etc. I eventually discovered that Frys carried them.
I also have an iPod Touch 2G with 16GB (iPod) so I will be making comparisons between the iPod and the Mylo. The Mylo is Sony's answer to the iPod Touch, even though the Mylo is only a 2nd generation device and the iPod is really a +6th generation device. Depending on your needs, the Mylo compares somewhat favorably.
The first things I noticed about the Mylo is that it had a nice hefty feel to it. I turned it on and the screen looks very cool. Bright and sharp. It's a touchscreen too.
I put in the battery and plugged it in for charging. The Mylo was fully charged in about 2 hours! Wow.
One of the first things I noticed is the wifi detection is not that sensitive. While my Belkin wifi phone detected 4 weak signals from different hot spots, the Mylo didn't even detect one.
When comparing the sensitivity between the Mylo and the iPod, it's a stalemate because, in some places, the Mylo detects signals that the iPod does not and, in other places, it's vice versa! I have noticed the iPod does connect more quickly and more reliably once it detects a signal it can use though.
I have used the Mylo to connect to wifi spots where you have to login with the browser and other wifi spots where you just have to click a button for access. This is a very common situation in airports and hotel rooms. The Mylo does connect to the wifi signal. It sometimes takes a little longer. The Belkin phone would not be able to connect to either of these situations.
Skype is one of the Mylo's main strengths and is a major selling point. Strangely, Sony did not capitalize on it. Other than having the Skype program on the Mylo, there appeared to be no overt business partnership between Sony and Skype(!) The Mylo was NOT advertised on the skype.com website. Surely this is a huge marketing faux pas by Sony.
So I started up Skype on my Mylo...
The first thing I noticed is the Mylo has its own version of Skype. It is not the same program you would run on a regular computer. It's similar though.
The second thing I noticed is the font in Skype chat is very small but it is readable. And you can't adjust the font size either. On regular Skype, you can adjust the font size.
The third thing I noticed is typing with your thumbs on the small keyboard is tiring and annoying. Mostly because the little things like apostrophes and numbers are harder to type. I did find myself getting used to the keyboard after a while though.
However, having a physical keyboard is BETTER than not having a keyboard. Typing on the Mylo is still MUCH FASTER than typing on the iPod's touchscreen keyboard. Having a tactile keyboard helps a lot. You make fewer mistakes. On a touchscreen keyboard, I find myself mistyping letters more often. I constantly have to find the backspace key and retype.
The fourth thing I noticed is the Skype icons are difficult to recognize. Mostly because the icons are small and are not animated as in regular Skype.
But Skype chat works well other than the problems described above. I should mention that PUSH technology is already available for Skype on the Mylo. This means you get notified of new chat messages in real time while you are running another program. You also get notified if people are trying to call you via Skype. The implementation is to have Skype run simultaneously in memory. You may then switch back and forth between Skype and your current running program.
PUSH for Skype is not available on the iPod.
I also made a call to a friend via a Skype-to-Skype call and her voice came in loud and clear! We talked for a good part of an hour. The call was never dropped.
I also called a friend's cell phone. It connected right away and her voice was also loud and clear. I should mention here that to dial out with Mylo's Skype, start with a plus-1. Like +1 (213) 555-1234
A problem I discovered is that you can only send files via Skype from the Mylo's internal memory and not from the memory stick duo. This may prove to be cumbersome when transfering files from the memory stick to internal memory and back again! By the way, did I mention you can also send files through Skype?
One MSN friend managed to send me a chat msg to my Mylo but when I responded, she wasn't able to receive any of my Mylo chat msgs. This is a significant limitation for Yahoo Messenger on the Mylo.
This is contrary to claims by other reviews for the Mylo. Yahoo Messenger is NOT compatible with MSN Messenger on the Mylo. Check your facts before you publish them people!
It takes a long time to load if the webpage is "complicated" like having many images. Yahoo's homepage takes forever to load and sometimes the browser runs out of memory (See Usability Issues below) or even crashes!
There should be a way to disable the loading of images in the browser so the webpages can load faster. It would save the paltry memory allocated to programs (only 26 MB!)
Although the Mylo's screen is a touchscreen, it doesn't have the iPod's elegant interface for magnifying and scrolling. But then the iPod is really a sixth generation device while the Mylo is only a second generation device. Also, I suspect Apple has patented their touchscreen interface which is a shame.
I tried accessing the web. The browser font is tiny but it's clear and sharp. The webpages look good although they are smaller in size. I discovered you can "magnify" the webpage by touching the "disp" button on the screen. This puts up a "control bar" on the bottom of the screen. You use the "magnify" function from the control bar to make the font and images larger.
The "disp" "button" is on the far leftside of the display. It toggles between:
You just keep tapping the "disp" button until everything disappears and you are left only with the webpage.
One cool thing about the Mylo's browser is that it re-renders the text so it fits on the width of the screen. You don't have to scroll left/right to read a line when you make the font larger. This is something the iPod doesn't do.
Another interesting thing the Mylo's browser does is play Flash videos that are embedded in a webpage. If the entire webpage is written in Flash though, the Mylo's browser won't load it. The iPod's browser doesn't play Flash at all except for YouTube videos(!)
The iPod will display the most "complicated" webpages regardless of how many images are on it. The iPod's browser is one of it's major strengths. In fact, a cool thing the iPod does is it will automatically display the mobile version of a webpage if it is available. The Mylo should do this too.
I copied over some music files. MP3 files play fine. Sadly, the Mylo does not play .WMA files!? This is strange considering it supports WMA audio codec in the video files it plays. These same WMA files can all be played on my other MP3 players. (I discovered later the Mylo does play WMA files. It just doesn't play some of them!)
One thing I didn't like about the Mylo is the non-standard connector for the headset. This is to accommodate the included microphone cable that has the non-standard connector for making Skype calls. This is a very awkward solution. Sony requires the user to keep an extra mic cable around. If the user loses this cable, he's stuck. He not only can't he make Skype calls via the headset anymore, but he also cannot listen to music or videos with his regular headphones!
What Sony should have done is just have a standard headphone connector on the Mylo, because people are going to be listening to music most of the time anyway. Then use the microphone already embedded in the Mylo for making Skype calls. That saves an extra cable, mic, and non-standard connector.
All music files copied over via USB should be stored in the \MUSIC directory.
The iPod does NOT have a camera. This is major oversight for the iPod in my opinion.
On my Mylo, all photos are stored in the \DCIM\101MSDCF directory.
When creating a video with the Mylo, theres a time limit of 10 minutes for the video. I'm assuming this is because of the time limitations for videos on YouTube. The Mylo was designed to create videos that could be directly uploaded into YouTube. Videos created by the Mylo are pretty decent looking too.
On my Mylo all videos taken by the Camera | Video Camera function are stored in the \MP_ROOT\100MNV01 directory. All videos copied over via USB should be stored in the \VIDEO directory.
Since the iPod does not have a camera, it also does NOT have video camera capability.
If created by computer, the video specifications for the Mylo are very strict. I used the video file converter, Super, for creating videos for the Mylo. Strangely, even keeping to the specs, the videos do not fill up the whole screen. Sony has no explanation for this.
MP4 File Format
Supported Video Codec:
MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile
Supported Audio Codec:
Fortunately, Super supports all the above specs!
Not having to use the iPod's clunky iTunes to download every little thing is a refreshing change.
The text editor is very good. It's a plain black sans serif text on a white background. Very easy to read. None of this unreadable cursive font on lined yellow "paper" like on the iPod.
The text editor would be GREAT if one could adjust the the size of the cursor. Currently, the cursor is a thin vertical line which merges with the text and is hard to see. It would be nice to be able to make the cursor a block or a different color than black. A red block cursor would be good.
Having easy access to a text editor on the Mylo is really wonderful! It's nice to be able to write down a random thought immediately and be able to transfer it to my laptop later. I find myself using the text editor at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the time during my downtime, like waiting at the airport, waiting on the plane, waitng for shuttle pickup, etc. It`s amazing how much time we spend waiting.
Using the slide out keyboard makes editing text very easy and very fast.
Bad Tech SupportI called Sony's tech support several times and was put on endless holds only to be connected to tech people who had no personal experience with the Mylo and English was definitely NOT their native language. The last time I called, I talked to this clueless tech guy who shall remain nameless. The guy didn't know anything about the Mylo. He didn't have a mylo unit in front of him and all he could do was read through the FAQs which didn't answer any of my questions. He also talked with a very thick Spanish accent and I could barely understand him. After about 20 mins of this, I hung up.
I found the tech guy who replies to the support emails much more knowledgeable than the "tech" people who answer the phones. The email address I've written to and gotten replies back is:
The biggest advantage of the Mylo is that it reliably supports chat/voice programs like Skype, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, etc. while the iPod does not. Being able to interact with other people on the Internet via chat messages and making voice calls is the killer feature. The Mylo's screen is much more sharper than the iPod's and more readable. Also, the Mylo has a physical keyboard and is easier to use. Since you can feel the keys, you are less likely to make a mistake in typing. The iPod touchscreen keyboard is harder to use, more prone to typing mistakes and therefore slower to type.
The Mylo also plugs into a USB port and uses standard USB connectors. The Mylo looks like another USB drive when connected to your computer. Files may be transferred back and forth simply by drag-and-drop.
The iPod uses a proprietary cable connector for USB. The iPod's biggest disadvantage is having to use iTunes to transfer files to/from the iPod. iTunes is a clunky program, not-friendly and non-intuitive. File transfers are not straightforward. The iPod also does not reliably support Skype and therefore you cannot chat or make voice calls with it.
The iPod's biggest advantage is its touchscreen interface. Magnify/Zoom is done by two fingers. Also, the smooth scrolling is nice. And magnifying HTML form fields to be entered and dropdown menus is nice too. But then Apple had several iPod generations to fine tune its interface.
If you use Skype often and have plentiful access to wifi access points, then the Mylo is the gadget for you.
Last updated : November 19, 2009
Copyright 2009 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA