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The Sony Ericsson W800i Walkman phone is an intuitive new device which successfully combines a mobile telephone and MP3 player into one. The result is an excellent all-round package, which includes some great features, headed up by a 2.0 MegaPixel Camera with auto focus.
- 2 megapixel camera with autofocus, colourful interface, FM radio with RDS, personal information management features
- Keypad buttons hard to press, can't turn off shutter sound, Memory stick hard to remove, Expensive outright
The W800i contains a vast array of features and is highly recommended for anyone looking to purchase a new mobile handset.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
As soon as we got our hands on the W800i it was clear that Sony Ericsson's focus for this device is its MP3 playback capabilities. The distinguishable orange Walkman logo underneath the keypad and on the left hand side of the phone only confirms this and if we had any further doubts, they were put to rest after using the dedicated Walkman button. Located underneath the screen and to the top of the navigational joystick, a press of the orange 'W' button takes you straight into the music application.
The Walkman menu interface is simple yet effective, with items for Now Playing, Artists, Tracks, Playlists and Videos. Much like Apple's iPod interface system, any tracks loaded onto the device are automatically sorted into these folders, which makes searching for a specific file simple and easy. Furthermore, you can create specific playlists from within the device by searching through your files and marking which tracks you want to add to that particular list. You can also send files to another phone or computer directly from the Walkman application via email, Bluetooth, IrDa or as a Picture Message, which we found quite useful.
Unfortunately you can't rename music files from within the device - this has to be done using the PC Suite software (which does not provide support for Mac users). We felt that the presence of a keypad should have allowed for this to occur, but it is a minor issue. The W800i also includes an FM Radio with 10 presets and features RDS (Radio Data System) which displays station broadcast information.
Sony Ericsson has not included a 3.5mm Headphone jack on the W800i, but they have boxed a Headphone adapter with the unit. This plugs into the bottom of the phone and allows you to connect any normal set of headphones to its input, enabling you to use them with the portable handsfree thanks to the adapter's inbuilt microphone. The sound quality of the W800i is impressive and the included noise reduction headphones were surprisingly of a high standard. Also offered is a 5-channel equaliser that you can adjust manually, as well as four pre-sets including Mega Bass. The only gripe we have with the MP3 Playback capabilities is the volume, which could be a little louder and doesn't really pack enough punch at its highest volume setting.
The W800i is very well designed and the controls are functional and easy to use.Sony Ericsson have chosen a simple but effective button layout with two selection keys in between the dedicated Walkman button, Back, Clear and a 5-way navigational joystick. The joystick is sometimes difficult to maneuver and may pose a problem to those with large fingers, but for the most part it worked well. Sticking with the Walkman theme, there is a Play/Pause and a Volume Up/Down button on each side of the unit, which is convenient for both listening to music and adjusting volume levels during phone calls.
One aspect of the controls that is quite frustrating is the keypad. We felt the keys aren't raised enough and not every press registered on the device - which created some problems when text messaging. Also, users of the T9 input system will not be pleased about using the joystick to change words, which means lifting your fingers away from the keypad, slowing down input considerably.
On the back of the phone is a 2.0 Megapixel camera with flash, auto-focus and even a lens cover. We were very impressed by the quality of pictures the W800i takes and while it's not good enough to replace a stand-alone digital camera, it's clearly the best camera present on a mobile phone to date. The camera takes photos at Small (160x120), Medium (640x480) and Large (1632x1224) resolutions and can shoot panorama, frames and burst. Our only concern with the camera is the inability to turn off the shutter sound - even when the phone is on silent.
The camera has extensive settings including night mode, light, a self-time, four effects, white balance and time and date. Also included is a video camera, which can record up until the memory stick is full. With a 512MB Memory Stick included in the package, you shouldn't have to worry about running out of video space.
The W800i contains the standard call functions including Missed, Received and Last Dialled and also contains a built-in handsfree speakerphone. We found the quality of phone calls was fine, although as with the Walkman application, the volume could have been slightly louder. An annoying factor of the W800i is the Memory Stick slot, located on the left hand side of the phone, which is quite difficult to remove without long fingernails.
The W800i supports GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz networks, as well GPRS, and Bluetooth and Infrared for short-range connectivity. Surprisingly, the W800i's battery life was very impressive, especially considering the amount of features it offers. During testing, the battery lasted just over 6 hours (talktime) and when we used the phone in Walkman mode only, it lasted for 15 hours - about the battery life of an average MP3 player.
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