Monday, March 10, 2008
Sony Ericsson Sony W960i Reviews
Sony Ericsson keeps wowing us with product after product.
Their latest flagship of technical prowess is the W960i. The Sony Ericsson W960i has all gadget lovers could giggle about... It has 3.2 mega pixel camera with autofocus, photo light, 8GB of internal storage, and all shoehorned into that slick exterior finish called “Black Vinyl. What a beauty! Now that Sony Ericsson W960i is already out in the market, i’m just wondering which is better, the P1 or the W960i. They’re almost identical in functionality but targets a different market of consumers.
At the back, the soft-touch plastic gives the handset a smooth velvety feel. One just has to hold the P1i. The W960i feels lighter probably due to the plastic compared with the metallic finish on the P1i. The two devices have almost identical dimensions and weight, though the choice of materials used is different.
When we tilt the phone at an angle with the bottom edge toward us, the reflective coating of the numerals and letters on the keypad stands out significantly. The W960i is predominantly black with a white strip running around the sides, which reminds us of a penguin. It looks nice, but doesn't serve any practical purpose. We also noticed that the white backlighting on the keypad is uneven, with most of the light concentrated at the center column.
Above that is the 2.6-inch 240 x 320-pixel touchscreen LCD that is flush with the surface. The screen is protected by a layer of plastic, so you are not actually poking at the display. What we are more concerned with is the glossy vinyl black surface that catches smudges and facial oils.
There are three touch-sensitive music playback keys between the keypad and the LCD on the W960i. These are visible only when the Walkman player is active. Unlike the LG Prada phone which uses a capacitive display, meaning it could register finger strokes but not stylus input, we could use both methods to control the three music keys on the W960i.
Like we mentioned earlier, the W960i has near identical physical dimensions as the P1i, but the similarity doesn't end there. The two also share the same 208MHz processor and 128MB of RAM. More on the performance later.
One thing that left a bad aftertaste was the Back button at the front, which should have been at the side together with the jog dial. We couldn't find a better way to describe it other than that it kills the whole user experience. While we could still use one hand to operate the handset, our thumb has to move back and forth. That was counter-intuitive, occasionally awkward, and at times frustrating.
The W960i promises a lot as a music player, but unfortunately, isn't quite the complete package as we thought it could be. It doesn't have a built-in 2.5/3.5mm audio port. Perhaps we are used to having such an option, especially on some of the Nokia Nseries sets. We thought it's about time Sony Ericsson does some justice to its Walkman phones as well. That said, our review set comes with a 3.5mm adapter. We just didn't like the hassle of dealing with the extra length of cable.
The handset's menu is very similar to some of the touchscreen models we've seen like the M600i and P1i. The default user theme shows the Walkman player on the screen. That can be turned off if desired. Menu options that appear on the bottom of the 2.6-inch screen change according to the different settings. While we managed to get away with using our finger or thumb on the panel most of the time, typing a text message via the onscreen keyboard still requires a stylus. The latter is stowed away on the top left corner. Speaking of which, we wondered if Sony Ericsson could have bundled a more solid (metallic) stylus instead of a plastic one that looks like a steal at a bargain store.
Because there's no directional keypad or joystick on the W960i, navigating the Walkman interface requires the use of the jog dial. The menu icons are lined in a column with the usual sorting by artists, albums, compilations, tracks and playlists. There's also a Moods option where songs can be tagged to the different tempo of the music, for example, happy, sad, energetic or chilled. This lets us pick one that suits our mood for the day.
On the connectivity front, the triband W960i is 3G-enabled (UMTS 2100) and equipped with Bluetooth with A2DP support and Wi-Fi. Other features on this Symbian UIQ Walkman include FM radio with RDS, an Opera Web browser, support for RSS feeds, TrackID and organizer functions.
Although it's from the Walkman series, the W960i isn't a minion when it comes to digital imaging. It has a 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera with a pair of LED photolights. Pictures can go up to a maximum resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels and videos in QVGA at 15fps. The video part was a bit of a disappointment since there are smart phones on the market that are capable of shooting motion images in VGA resolution at 30fps. There's also a secondary front-facing camera for 3G video calls.
Unlike the P1i, we didn't find the W960i particularly responsive. The slowdown was even more obvious when the 8GB memory started to reach its limit. There are two modes to choose from after we connect the W960i to the PC: Normal or Fast file transfer. For the latter, the W960i will show up as a flash drive, so copying of files to the handset is only a matter of dragging and dropping. Alternatively, Sony Ericsson also provides the media manager software to manage music files on the unit.
The W960i ships with a standard 950mAh Lithium-polymer cell that's rated for 9 hours of talktime and about 15 days on standby. In real-world conditions, the battery life performance was dismal. With our usual pattern of making calls, sending text messages and listening to music during commute, the cell gave up on us in less than 1.5 days. Be prepared to charge it every night if you don't want to worry about it dying mid-day.
The W960i takes average-quality pictures which most people would find okay. In terms of performance, there's a 0.6-second shutter lag, though that shouldn't matter that much as long as the hand is kept steady when pressing the shutter. The only gripe we have is that the camera interface didn't have one of those rectangular boxes that light up in green to show that the camera is focused and ready. Instead, the small icon on the bottom left does that. To sum it up, there's still work to be done on the UI of the camera.
We found the onboard speakers pleasant and up to par. We didn't expect any lesser since that's a flagship model from the Walkman pedigree. Pairing to our stereo cans via Bluetooth A2DP happened without a hitch. We guess that's one way of avoiding the cables using the 3.5mm adapter.
So was the hype around the W960i justified? On paper, yes. Did it meet our expectations? No. The W960i may be one of the most elaborate music-phones we've seen, but is most unfortunately bogged down by several issues--poor location of Back button, lack of a built-in 3.5mm audio port, dismal battery life and laggy performance.
Hmm! Sony Ericsson W960i instead of a P1? Hayz will wait for the price to go down again ^_^
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