Thoughts on Casio’s W53CA for AU

After my recent announce of the new AU Summer Collection, I had to wait a couple months before the official release of the Casio W53CA phone.

I got the phone a few weeks ago and it’s a beauty, as always. It’s even thinner than the 43CA, the hinge is even smaller and more elegant. The screen is wider and QVGA (480×800) resolution. You know all those phone ads where the screen looks incredible crisp, but then you buy the phone and it’s some crappy 120×60 resolution… Well the 53CA screen makes pics look like printed matter. Simply incredible.

The camera is pretty amazing too. It does take beautiful Exilim pics, better than any other camera phone I have ever seen. Of course, certain lighting condition will always be challenging but this thing can survive just about anything.

So is there anything to complain about?

The only hardware minus point I found was the new keyboard. While thinner, it’s also harder to operate in the dark or blindly as the keys are mounted nearly seamlessly. But you get used to it. The side buttons are also thinner and harder to press when operating the camera…

As far as software goes, nothing to complain about besides:
1. the camera interface
2. English translation

The camera interface hasn’t really evolved over the past few models and I wish it had!! This is a major minus in this otherwise great product!
The submenus feel randomly crammed into the maximum 12 top menus which means that after having used this interface for more than 2 years, I still can’t remember where what is what!!
And since I fiddle with menus a lot, this is a big issue.

ex 1:
when you choose the Scenes menu (called Best Shot – key #2), the first dialog box to come up asks you whether to turn it “ON” or “OFF”. How weird, why not just give me access to the list of scenes?!

ex 2:
White Balance, which I use 50% of the time to correct the weak light condition auto evaluation of the camera software is hidden in the 4th position choice of menu key 6 (shot assistant). That’s 11 clicks or scrolls to access it when you are trying to take a picture!!! And it doesn’t even have a shortcut key while Self-Timer (mislabeled as Self-Timer Setup) gets its own top menu. I have never ever seen anybody (nor used it myself) use a self timer on a keitai camera.

ex 3:
“Album” is to view your photos. It takes the 3rd position of the menu just under Best Shot. Again it would be faster to access your pics via the Data Folder menu form the main camera menu. Why clog my menu when I am trying to take a picture.

ex 4:
Shot Size gets 4th position. Is that really a priority? I would like to see user studies that prove people change picture size before taking shots, on a regular basis. Personally, one prime reason for doing so would be to make it lighter to send it to a friend, but the “mail this” menu offers to do just that when I DO actually want to mail them.

ex 5:
Macro mode needs 7 click to be set up (although it does have a keypad shortcut). No wonder I never see people use it when they need it. Actually I rarely see people use it with conventional digital cameras either…

I guess this list could go on and on but overall, I love this phone and would NOT trade it for anything else on the market!!

But anyway, if anyone knows people at Casio/Hitachi, I would be happy to send in a more detailed report on the camera and funny English translations or even come in for a chat! Yes I am talking to you… S. 😉

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    Based in Paris & Tokyo, Paul Baron is a senior product manager for hire. Ex-@AQworks. Co-founder of cultural platform Tokyo Art Beat.
    Service design, interaction design, startups, user research.
    Posts a few times a decade since 2003.

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