Sony Ericsson W610i

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Sony Ericsson W610i
  • Sony Ericsson W610i
  • Sony Ericsson W610i
  • Sony Ericsson W610i

Pros

  • Walkman software, slim design, included 512MB M2 card

Cons

  • Small and cramped controls and keypad

Bottom Line

A solid, if not outstanding addition to the Walkman line-up, the slim W610i is unfortunately let down by an unnecessarily small keypad and controls.

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Sony Ericsson's W610i is a solid, if not outstanding, midrange handset. It sports the latest Walkman software and FM radio, a 2 megapixel camera, and a 512MB Memory Stick Micro (M2). The downside is its small and cramped controls, which detract from the overall user experience.

The W610i includes the latest version of Sony Ericsson's proprietary music software, Walkman version 2.0, along with an FM radio. An icon representing each menu provides a sleek and structured feel. The tiered interface (with artists, albums, tracks and playlist menus) also provides access to Sony Ericsson's download service, PlayNow. This operates in a very similar way to iTunes, allowing you to listen to samples and then download tracks to your phone or PC in MP3 or AAC format. The Walkman software also supports album art and this is automatically downloaded and added to the track each time you upload your music.

TrackID is once again available on the W610i. This allows you to record a few seconds of any song you wish, through the external microphone. The recording is then sent to a music database and if the song is recognised, the title, album and artist name are sent back to you. It then allows you to download the full track if it is available. The W610i also features Bluetooth Stereo A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), enabling you wirelessly stream music to a compatible pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Sound quality is notable for a phone and the included earphones produce a crisp sound with decent bass. An adapter that allows a standard 3.5mm pair of headphones to be used is also included. You can tailor your audio using the five band equaliser or the four presets including Sony's proprietary Mega Bass.

Like most Sony Ericsson phones, the standard quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) W610i handles voice calls well; we were impressed with volume and clarity, especially in noisy environments. Using the hands-free speakerphone with some background noise isn't ideal, though. All the usual features you'd expect from a current handset are included - MMS, SMS, email, instant messaging, Bluetooth, and USB 2.0.

The 2 megapixel camera on the rear has auto focus, 2.25x digital zoom and a flash; the latter is fairly ineffective though. Although it's not suitable for any sort of serious photography, the W610i camera should be enough to keep users happy for the odd photo thanks to panorama, frames and burst shooting modes, night mode, a self-timer, black and white, sepia and negative effects as well as the ability to adjust white balance. The W610i can also record video (with sound thanks to the built-in microphone), but its quality is poor. Photos can be stored on either the 74MB of internal memory, or the included 512MB Memory Stick Micro (M2) card.

In addition to the Walkman feature, there is a video player and games, as well as some of Sony Ericsson's proprietary applications such as VideoDJ, PhotoDJ and MusicDJ. There's also remote control and sound recording functions. PIM features are impressive thanks to a robust feature set which includes an alarm, calendar, notes, reminders, task list, and a timer.

The unit itself is a comfortable size and cups nicely in your hands, but the tiny controls are a turn off. General browsing isn't the best, as the five-way navigational pad is stubborn and is difficult to narrow down your selection. The selection buttons are squashed together, so it's easy to accidentally bump the wrong keys. Further, the keypad is also small and cramped, so messaging is slow and cumbersome. With enough room on the handset to make the controls larger, we aren't sure why Sony Ericsson has opted for this design.

A bright 262k colour screen with a resolution of 176x220 pixels is at the heart of the W610i, and the included themes should have something to suit everyone. The viewing angle of the display is also impressive.

Battery life is fair according to Sony Ericsson figures, quoted at seven hours of talk time and up to 350 hours of standby time. On average, we usually charged the handset every two to three days, depending on usage patterns.

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