So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sony Ericsson W810i
- Walkman Function, Great list of multimedia features, Excellent User interface, Memory Stick, Extensive PIM Functions,
- Controls may be a little small in size for some
There is no need to upgrade if you already own the previous W800i, but if not, you could do a lot worse than choosing the W810i. Once again, Sony Ericsson has got it spot on with a comprehensive handset full of the latest features, all wrapped in an attractive package. Fantastic.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
The biggest push in the world of convergent mobile phones (besides cameras) is manufacturers including ever more sophisticated MP3 players within their handsets. Sony Ericsson has been at the forefront in this regard since the launch of their 'Walkman' range of handsets, first beginning with the excellent W800i and expanding on this with the W550i and more recently the 3G enabled W900i.
Design and Controls
Sony Ericsson has now released another Walkman branded handset - this time the W810i. A direct replacement for the highly successful W800i, the W810i continues to set the benchmark in terms of its MP3 software capabilities, while also including an excellent user interface and a great list of features. Very similar in design to the W800i, the W810i has changed the colour scheme from cream white to black. The orange Walkman branding is as evident as ever though and we feel the refreshing colour change is a welcome one. The black finish makes this handset look more professional than its predecessor, so we've given it the thumbs up.
Besides this change, the rest of the handset is almost identical - buttons in the same positions, similar style keypads and the candy bar design more than closely resembling the previous W800i. There has been a minor change to the controls though; the W810i includes a 5-way navigational pad (a little on the small side for those with big fingers) which incorporates a Play/Pause button as well as Next/Previous Track. The dedicated Walkman button remains, but it's been shifted to the left, alongside the Back and Left Selection keys. The right side sees the other Selection Key as well as a clear button and a Shortcut key. Sticking with the Walkman theme, there is also another Play/Pause button on the left hand side of the unit and a Volume Up/Down button on the right; convenient for both listening to music and adjusting volume levels during phone calls. All this sounds like a lot to get your head around, but rest assured it isn't. We found the controls pleasant to use and while they may lack the simplicity that the W800i provided, excessive Walkman users will undoubtedly find them a useful inclusion.
Sound and Music: Walkman
The Walkman menu is once again a success with items for Now Playing, Artists, Tracks, Playlists and Videos. Any tracks loaded onto the device are automatically sorted into these folders, which makes searching for a specific file simple and easy - much like the iPod interface system. Many of you will be extremely pleased to know that you can create specific playlists from within the W810i by searching through your files and marking which tracks you want to add to that particular list. Just like its predecessor, the W810i also allows you to send files to another phone or computer directly from the Walkman application via email, Bluetooth, Iinfrared or as a Picture Message; highly convenient yet at the same time very simple.
Once again, Sony Ericsson has not included a 3.5mm Headphone jack on the W810i, 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 hands free thanks to the adapter's inbuilt microphone. Sound quality is very impressive considering it is a mobile phone; and to our surprise, the included noise reduction headphones performed well, even if they aren't outstanding. Also offered is a 5-channel equaliser that you can adjust manually, as well as four pre-sets including Mega Bass and Treble Boost. A fully customisable five-channel equaliser isn't even seen in a lot of stand alone MP3 players, so to have it included on a mobile phone shows how far Sony Ericsson have come in this regard.
On the back of the W810i is a 2.0 megapixel camera with flash and auto-focus, but this time, no lens cover. This may indeed be welcome news to some, as the lens cover on the W800i had the tendency to open while in your pocket, even if the keypad lock was enforced. We were pretty impressed by the quality of pictures the W800i takes; in saying this it's still definitely not good enough to replace a stand-alone digital camera. The camera takes photos at Small (160x120), Medium (640x480) and Large (1632x1224) resolutions and can shoot panorama, frames and burst.
Settings include night mode, light, a self-timer, white balance and time and date stamping. The dedicated camera button on the right hand side of the phone means you can turn it on its side and take photos as you would with a regular stand alone digital camera. Also present is a video camera, which can record until the memory stick is full. With a 512MB Memory Stick PRO Duo included in the package, you shouldn't ever have to worry about running out of storage; although the quality of the video will probably ensure you'll never use it in the first place.
Recent Sony Ericsson handsets have all utlised similar menu interfaces and the W810i is no different. There is a very good reason for this and it's extremely simple; there is no need for change when the current menu is almost perfect. The best feature about the W810i is the themes; by changing a theme you can virtually change the look of the entire phone. We particularly liked the 'Equaliser' theme; the menu items resembled different colours as if a music track was playing in WinAmp, whilst drawing an animated logo of the particular menu screen you are on with the bars - it looks brilliant.
Selecting a menu brings up a simple list view, which you scroll through using the navigational pad. Any sub menus are displayed in a pop-up box to the right and on top of the current list. Overall, the menu system is brilliant and even those who have never used a Sony Ericsson handset before shouldn't have any problems.
The W810i is one of the most feature packed phones on the market today. As well as the 2.0 megapixel camera and Walkman based MP3 player, the handset includes an FM Radio with RDS (Radio Data System), SMS, MMS and email messaging (with T9 support), RSS News Feed Service, Hands free speakerphone, Java games and applications and Bluetooth, USB and Infrared connectivity. It also includes a few nifty multimedia features including Music DJ, Photo DJ and Video DJ - which allows you to edit any multimedia captured to through the handset itself.
The W810i importantly also has a great list of important PIM functions, including Alarms, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, Calculator and Synchronisation with a PC using the supplied PC Suite software (included in the sales package).
Battery Life and Conclusion
The W810i's standard Li-Ion Battery is rated at eight hours of talk time and almost 15 days of standby time. We found these figure to be fairly close to the mark and on average, we only needed to charge the handset every three nights, which is fairly good for a handset with such multimedia capabilities.
Overall the W810i is an excellent handset - definitely one of the best we've reviewed so far this year. If you own the W800i. there is really no need to upgrade, but if you don't you'll be delighted with both the features and quality this handset offers. All in all, a brilliant mobile phone.
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