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If you are the type of person who judges a book by its cover, then don’t even bother looking at the new Walkman phone. The Sony Ericsson W980 looks like one of those DoCoMo phones you can buy in Japan and feels very cheap to say the least. But if you are willing to give this phone a chance, you will soon grow to love it for its easy interface, massive storage capacity, and unique features.


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Despite its light profile, the W980 comes with 8GB of internal storage that can store photos, videos, and music files with ease. It also comes with a clever ‘shake control’ that changes track, shuffles songs, and increases or decreases volumes with a single wrist movement.

The unit sports a proprietary connector for charger, handsfree, and USB cable on the left side, while a key lock toggle, external applications and volume keys are found on the opposite side. With the phone closed, users can find the 176×176 pixel screen, 5-way touch-sensitive keys, as well as a transparent ‘Music sync light’ that automatically blinks to the music (can be turned off or adjusted).

Three different applications are available when the phone is closed: Walkman player, Standby, and Radio. Users can switch between these applications by pressing the external applications key (located on the right side of the phone).

 

Opening the phone reveals the 2.2-inch (240×320 pixel) screen, a video call camera, and a range of keys including left and right selection, five-way navigation, Call and End, Clear, Activity menu, a dedicated Walkman, on/off, as well as circular alpha-numeric keys that look almost toy-like in appearance. The alpha-numeric keys are easy to press as it is well-spaced and tactile. However, we had a hard time pressing some of the keys located on the top part of the unit as it was a tad small.

The main menu consists of 12 sub-menus: PlayNow, Internet (Optus Zoo), Entertainment, Camera, Messaging, Media, Radio, Contacts, Walkman, Calls, Organiser, and Settings.

The PlayNow function is a service provided by Sony Ericsson that allows a user to download ring tones, games, music, themes and wallpapers, while its Entertainment function give users the chance to edit videos, photos, and music, in addition to on top of a sound recording function that can keep track of press conferences or meetings.

The Media sub-menu lets a user view their photos, music, videos, games and RSS feeds. Transferring content between the phone and a computer can be done by either installing the Sony Ericsson Media Manager CD or by the simple procedure of dragging and dropping using Microsoft Windows Explorer.

 


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The CD contains a Sony Ericsson PC Suite that includes synchronisation, file transfer, messaging, backup and restore, and connecting to the Internet, a Sony Ericsson Media Manager that transfers music, videos, and photos between your computer and phone, and an Update Service that automatically updates the phone software.

After transferring the multimedia files, the phone will automatically update itself and search for new content stored on the device.

Although the W980 comes with a proprietary port, the hands-free jack sports a 3.5mm jack that allows a user to hook up their favourite headphone on the device. The audio quality is one of the best we have heard for a music phone, with the W980 being able to clearly reproduce sound from any track we play (whether it’s Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro or Coldplay’s Viva La Vida). The phone also comes with an FM transmitter that streams audio from the phone to any available FM radio.

By pressing the play/stop button and shaking the unit, users can change tracks even with the lid closed. Moving the unit to the left plays the previous track, moving the unit to the right goes to the next track, shaking the phone shuffles tracks, while holding the phone out in front of you increases the volume. To decrease the volume, users can just repeat the action in the opposite direction.

 


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An FM tuner is also included, which is always good as it can act as a breather to one’s music collection. The phone can store up to 20 channels and offers a TrackID function that identifies a track for you.

The 3.2-megapixel camera can take nice shots and videos so long as the area or subject is well lit. The night mode helps to a certain degree, although users should not rely heavily on it. Battery life was average, with the unit lasting for three days on a single charge.

While the Sony Ericsson W980 does not fare well in the looks department, it certainly makes up for it in terms of what it can do. This phone is light as a feather, the built-in features are easy to use, and the audio quality is superb. This phone is available now with an RRP of $899.

See page over for product specifications and final rating.

 

Sony Ericsson W980 Product Specifications:

2G network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G network: HSDPA 2100

Display:
TFT, 256K colors
240 x 320 pixels, 2.2 inches
Second external TFT display: 256K colors (176 x 176 pixels)

Phonebook: 1000 x 20 fields, Photo call
Call Records: 30 received, dialled and missed calls

Memory: 8GB

Features:
Messaging: SMS, EMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging
Browser: WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML (NetFront), RSS reader
Games: Yes + downloadable
Camera: 3.2-megapixel

Additional Features:
– Java MIDP 2.0
– Walkman player
– FM transmitter
– FM radio with RDS
– TrackID music recognition
– Shake control
– T9
– Image viewer
– Picture editor
– Organiser
– Built-in handsfree
– Voice memo
– Up to 20 hours music playback

Stand-by Time: Up to 370h
Talk Time: Up to 9h

Dimensions: 92 x 46 x 16.9 mm
Weight: 100 g

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Sony Ericsson Walkman W980 | $899 |  | www.sonyericsson.com

For: Light; Internal Memory; HSDPA; FM transmitter; Clever Walkman functions; Own 3.5mm headphone can be used
Against: Toy-like feel; Not the best-looking phone around
Conclusion: Move along with this Walkman phone.

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