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Review: Music lovers' treat from Sony Ericsson

Review: Music lovers' treat from Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson’s W950i possesses all the features you would expect from a mobile phone/media player device aimed squarely at music fans. It also boasts a variety of operating options, such as a touchscreen with handwriting recognition, keys and jogdial, to cater for individual users’ preferences. However, the lack of a built-in camera and a somewhat tricky keypad are two downsides.

Out of the box it feels a little bulky at 54mm wide and weighing 112 grams, though it fits comfortably in the palm.

As a right hander, having the jog dial on the left edge felt strange, but this positioning means the thumb can slide easily between the dial, the back button below it and the stylus slot above.

The right edge houses a play/stop button and volume controls.

The phone’s keys could make it hard for avid texters as they lie flush with the surface – each is only marked by a small raised dot beside the number and letters.

The touchscreen is 2.6 inches, has 240 x 320 pixels and displays 262K colour. Clarity didn’t seem reduced when viewing in direct sunlight.

Just as with music players, the 3G-walkman phone lets users build playlists, while the graphic-rich interface makes it easy to find tracks by song, album or genre. The touchscreen and stylus can also be used to browse through albums by cover pictures.

Adding star ratings and colours to song titles to remind users how much they like them and how they make users feel are fun features.

Another is the TrackID service by Gracenote Mobile Music. Users can record a few seconds of an unknown song from the W950i’s FM radio and send it to Gracenote’s database. Users then receive a text containing track information to use for downloading the song. (The Vodafone music store is supported.)

It also has a graphic equaliser and comes with stereo headphones.

Users can store various file formats – MP3, AAC, AAC+, E-AAC+, wav and m4a. Transferring music and other files to the phone from the PC went without a hitch using the bundled Disc2Phone software.

Sony Ericsson has chosen to meet music storage requirements with 4GB of built-in flash memory, rather than include any memory expansion capability.

As it runs on the Symbian 9.1/UIQ 3 platform, there are plenty of additional applications for download from Sony Ericsson’s online shop. The phone also ships with a CD of ‘Try and Buy’ applications for customisation of the device.

The W950i makes use of Opera 8 for web browsing, which can be accessed in a landscape or portrait mode.

Entertainment features include streaming audio and video and video playback at 30 frames per second.

It connects to a PC via USB 2.0, Bluetooth and infrared – there is no wifi. PC Suite software is also included for synchronisation.

Sony Ericsson says music can be played for 10 hours, with up to 7.5 hours talk time (GSM) on a single battery charge.


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