posted by Eugenia Loli on Mon 3rd Jul 2006 17:31 UTC
IconA few months ago I wrote an editorial and several blog posts about convergence on gadgets and how Apple might have to move to the phone market for the next-gen of its iPods. So, where is that market is going? was very kind to send us over the Sony Ericsson W810i Walkman phone for the purposes of this review. We take a look at the W810i's voice, data and multimedia capabilities.

In the box we found the following:
* Sony Ericsson W810i Phone
* 512 MB Memory Stick Pro Duo card
* Travel Charger (EU & US)
* Good quality in-ear handsfree with 3.5" jack option
* 900 mAh battery
* User Manual
* USB cable
* CD-rom

The phone came with the following hardware features:
* 2 MP autofocus/macro camera
* Quad-band GSM and EDGE
* 176x220 2.0" 262k LCD (bright and clear)
* 21 MB available internal flash memory
* FM radio
* Memory Stick Duo Pro (up to 2GB, hotswap support)
* Bluetooth 2.0
* USB 2.0
* wrist-wrap hole

size  comparison Physically, the phone is pretty small, easy to carry around. It has a very good built and the buttons are easy to reach and press. People with larger thumbs might need to train themelves a bit though, as the "walkman", "back" and "left softkey" buttons are all in a single rocker button (depending in which direction you press the button it does a different job). On the top of the phone you will get the IrDA and the power button, on the bottom the Fast Port, on the left there is the "stop/play" button that will start playback the previously paused song in the background, and on the right side there are volume keys and the camera button. On the back you will find the 2MP camera with a powerful flash. There is no protective cap for the camera.

the back of the unit The phone boots pretty fast, in under 12 seconds. On boot you are presented with the option to either continue booting in phone mode, or use the device as walkman-only. In that second mode, the W810i is functioning just as any mp3 player would, with no extras. This is also known as the "flight mode" (yes, you have to reboot and choose that mode in order to disable the GSM antennas).

The 5-way jog-dial/joystick carries over the normal operations (up, down, left, right, confirm), but when inside the Walkman application it also works as "previous/next song", pause/play, "previous media folder". You can activate the Walkman software at any time by pressing its dedicated button, or as I mentioned above, the "stop/play" button on the side to start playback in the background, while other applications are loaded. I found this to work so-so with other multimedia apps. For example, the included MusicDJ application will kinda freeze when Walkman is active, because it seems that the Sony Ericsson embedded OS does not support mixing. If you stop the Walkman application and therefore "free" the sound card, only then the other application will continue its operation.

When booting to the phone mode, you are presented with the updated and well known Sony Ericsson user interface. I must give props to the people who designed the UI: it's consice, stable, fast, up to the point and very easy to learn. In this newer version they have also added eye candy transitions between menus and screens and other niceties. Most of my readers know that I prefer smartphones, but if I had to pick one consumer-grade phone user interface as my favorite, that would be Sony Ericsson's, hands down.

Walkman software In the main screen you can select from many options, including "contacts", create a new sms/ems/voicemail (there is no "email" in that list), check your call history, and use your shortcuts (Bluetooth, IrDA, Calendar, Events, Bookmarks, flash light on/off etc). I loved one of the "Light" options: it can flash SOS in the Morse code, should you be in danger!

With the phone you will get lots of interesting utilities and applications: VideoDJ and MusicDJ, email, a very useful RSS reader, MMS/SMS, T9, a sound recorder, two 3D games, good Java support (we ran Opera Mini, MGMaps, Google Maps and some games), an alarm clock, business card exchange, calculator, calendar, conference call support, a nice file manager, notes, wireless PIM Sync, speakerphone support, stopwatch, tasks and a timer. Only a native unit converter is missing. Instant messaging is supported, but it would not connect to YamiGo for some reason (might have been YamiGo's fault -- update: this is now fixed). In the settings panels you can change the themes, ringtomes (mp3 ringtones are supported), profiles, phone locking and more. Both Bluetooth and IrDA file exchange worked like a charm. File exchange was managed at over 10KB/sec with IrDA. The HSP/HFP Bluetooth profiles worked well too. The FM radio works only if you plugin the handsfree cable (because it works as an antenna to it). We had some very good FM reception with no dropouts.

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