Ever since we first set eyes on Sony Ericsson's W760i Walkman phone, we knew we'd love it. It enters the music phone market and goes up against one of our all-time favourite music handsets, the W890i. As this slider phone faces some tough competition -- even from its own siblings -- is it everything we hoped for? It's available for free on a monthly contract from networks including O2 and T-Mobile.
This stylish handset immediately feels good to use, with a solid, lightweight build and in our opinion, an attractive design for business or personal use. Sliding out the keypad reveals a smashing set of large, flat keys, which are soft to push and easy for speedy texting.
A Memory Stick Micro slot sits on top of the phone for easy memory card swapage. It's also possible to unlock and navigate the Walkman features of the W760i without sliding out the keypad, using a dedicated Walkman button. This is extremely useful for when you're listening to music.
What isn't useful is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket, immediately nulifying any chance of us recommending this handset as a suitable replacement to a dedicated MP3 player. You'll need to use the bundled plastic proprietary adaptor in order to use your own headphones, resulting in roughly 3 metres of cable between your ears and the phone. But that's our only massive criticism of the W760i's design.
This quad-band music phone has some distinctly non-music phone features. Firstly, an accelerometer detects the phone's position in space. It knows when it's being tilted and in what direction. For instance, if you tilt the phone on its side when viewing a photo, the photo will rotate to better fit the screen.
This also allows you to control games by tilting the phone. EA's Need For Speed Pro Street 3D racing game comes pre-installed among others. Its cars can be steered and accelerated by tilting the handset in a variety of directions.
Sony Ericsson also crammed in GPS navigation, coupled with Google Maps and Wayfinder Navigator for helping you get around in unfamiliar locations. A 3-megapixel camera will let you take photos and videos of these locations and email them over the W760i's high-speed HSDPA data connection.
Download the amazing -- and free -- Opera Mini browser and the W760i becomes a blisteringly fast Internet browsing device, too. Sony Ericsson has bundled an integrated RSS feed reader into the slick dedicated media menus, so even if you're not bothered about browsing the Web, you can at least keep up to date with news as its published.
DRM'd WMA content purchased from most online music download stores should be supported -- we had no problem playing some protected Dream Theater tracks purchased from Napster. Sadly not supported are AIFF, OGG, FLAC and lossless WMA music formats. There's no gapless playback either, so live albums will have a second-long pause between tracks.
This is pretty typical for music phones and the supported formats -- unprotected MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV -- are at least the ones most commonly used in the music world. Additionally, A2DP stereo Bluetooth enables the W760i to work with any Bluetooth headphones you've got lying around.
We've enjoyed using this phone so much. Its menus are slick and attractive and the physical controls are well placed. It's not flawless, but we're confident most people will agree it's a nice handset to use.
Music can be dragged and dropped through Windows or synced with either Windows Media Player or Sony Ericsson's bundled software. We had trouble getting video on here, though, and we wouldn't recommend the W760i if watching video is a major desire. File transfers are also extremely slow -- around eight to ten seconds per 320Kbps MP3.
Testing with uncompressed, lossless WAV files, we heard a decent sound quality, though through our reference-grade headphones we could hear a tiny element of background distortion. Most people won't even notice this and it won't be an issue for casual listening. A keen ear with a good pair of earphones may spot it.
Call quality is great and you should get a brilliant 9 hours of
calls or 400 hours of standby time. Pictures quality is okay too,
though at full resolution there's a good deal of noise. Check out our
full-res example shot here.
there was one more thing we'd like, it'd be Wi-Fi. No, a music phone
doesn't necessarily need it, but considering the inclusion of so many
other features that aren't synonymous with music phones, Wi-Fi is
notably absent from the W760i.
The W760i is probably our favourite Sony Ericsson Walkman phone to date and with its terrific design encasing a feature-packed and high-performing handset, it rivals even Nokia's N95. Even if you're not bothered about Walkman features, you'd be daft not to consider it for its other selling points.
Its biggest let down is its lack of a standard headphone socket. In this area, it's no competitor to dedicated MP3 players or the terrific 3.5mm-ready Motorola Rokr e8.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday