Technology Electronics

W910i Review – ‘walk’ This Way

A lot of Sony Ericssons Walkman handsets are simple re-brandings of earlier non-feature handsets, such as the S500i & the W580i with mainly small cosmetic or technical amendment and the addition of the relevant Walkman software, a larger memory card & better headphones. The only exceptions to this rule used to be the more high-end models in the range, such as the W850i. The sliding W910i is the latest model to provide genuine innovation , especially considering the new features that have been employed, which we'll get to later.

In terms of its design & construction, the W910i is a little different than your average handset as the lack of glossy materials used on the bodywork makes the W910i one of very few new handsets that does not look like a tool for CSI to collect prints. One slight concern with the build that does surprise me is on the sliding action, which doesn't feel entirely secure, especially when slid up all the way. This may be because the W910i is a little wider than some other similar handsets which could cause an imbalance. It could also be an isolated issue with the test model, so may not necessarily be a universal design issue.

The displays in Sony Ericsson phones have improved dramatically over the last 6 months, while they're still not the market leader by any stretch, things are starting to get better on that end. The W910i continues this trend by enclosing a generous 2.4" screen which does the job perfectly. While the phone itself may be a little over-sized the quality of the display perfectly justifies this.

The raft of connectivity options available complement the W910i's tag as a high-end music-phone. As well as the expected options of GPRS & EDGE, you also get 3G with HSDPA compatibility which can allow song-download speeds almost comparable with a standard PC Broadband connection. Even though Wi-Fi is missing, you won't really miss it with top-end 3G being available luckily.

This makes the specs of the camera somewhat surprising, considering how out-of place it feels when compared to the rest of the features. Only a 2 Mega Pixel module has been employed and both autofocus & flash have been left out, making it barely even adequate. The image-quality coming from this is by no means terrible, it's just passable and you are left wondering how the camera isn't up to the same standard as the rest of the phone. A possible reason could be that the flagship W960 has a 3.2MP camera and obviously the W910i isn't meant to upstage it.

As this is obviously a Walkman handset, the W910i should fare highly when it comes to the music functionality and it doesn't disappoint. First thing to mention is that the sound quality is excellent, and in fact deserves serious merit as it actually outperforms Apple's iPhone, meaning that the most important factor with any music phone has been fulfilled with ease. The Walkman Player does also have some new features that haven't been seen anywhere else before (not officially at least.) One of those is the ‘Shake' control. The premise behind this is that you tilt or shake the phone when pressing the Walkman key to skip tracks or shuffle the current playlist or album

(Right goes forward, left back and shaking shuffles). This feature was in-fact seen first in the W580i, but that was merely as a testing-ground and wasn't widely advertised. It may be a gimmick that will be seen as little more than a novelty, but it's a unique idea and combines yet more functionality without increasing the amount of buttons

More useful is the SensMe feature, which basically creates playlists according to mood and tempo via the Media Manager software and the W910i's onboard psychiatrist Dr Ericsson (the last one isn't true sadly). It does provide a unique way to choose your music and it is easy to see this developing significantly in the future, in fact I would not be surprised to find other manufacturers copying the idea. There are currently drawbacks, e.g. you can't set the ‘mood' of a song yourself and you have to use the (rather slow) Media Manager software, rather than directly transferring the music to your memory card, but it's definitely an interesting experience and deserving of some plaudits.

The Sony Ericsson W910i is a peculiar beast and gives off some mixed signals. Whilst the predominant function is undoubtedly the music player (which performs very well), there are some strange omissions. The poor camera in particular stands out and would have been much better if at least one of autofocus & flash were added into the mix, but the lack of both does harm it somewhat. The slightly worrying ‘wobbliness' on the sliding action is also a cause for concern. These issues are admittedly minor, so if you can overlook them in your quest for the perfect music-phone then it may be worth taking the plunge. As a music-phone it's definitely one of the top dogs.

The Sony Ericsson W910i is currently available to purchase on Contract and Pay As You Go.

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