What happens when you put manufacturer of portable music player Sony together with mobile phone manufacturer Ericsson? You get Sony Ericsson (well, you are probably acutely aware of the brand already). Maker of the WALKMAN series of mobile phones that include the evergreen W800, W600, and W900 for music lovers who also need a mobile phone, Sony Ericsson is right up there in the pecking order of manufacturing music inclined communication handsets which are unsurprisingly rising steadily in popularity. Walkman phones from Sony Ericsson typically have music playback keys, built-in speakers, mini-jack output for headphones (bundled), and memory slots for storing more music just like a dedicated music player.
But if you thought those phones were good, Sony Ericsson is now raising the bar with the latest W850, the first slider model in Sony Ericsson’s stable. Though scheduled to be released in third quarter of 2006, www.hardwarezone.com® has managed to grab a hold of one unit for an exclusive first look. In this article, we'll let you in on what is new and cool about the W850 and you don't have to wait a few months to find out.
Unlike previous WALKMAN phones, the W850 sports a completely new interface called WALKMAN player 2.0. It basically works to simplify the navigation experience of music arrangement by classifications using music genre, playlists, song titles or music albums (ala Zen Vision: M). Once you have selected your songs, the large and clear 2.0-inch QVGA screen (262k pixels) will display all the information of the track listing title, artiste, album, album art, playtime together with a simple animation. Also, as the music is playing, the dedicated music shortcut key below the display will light up and "dance" to the tempo of music it's currently playing.
An interesting feature of the W850 is the TrackID feature that identifies songs that you do not know. This intelligent feature lets you record a few seconds of the song using either the integrated microphone or FM radio.
The short clip will then be sent to Gracenote Mobile MusicID database for identification after which a reply containing details of the music you were listening to will be sent back via SMS. Within the message and operator, users can opt to purchase the song over the air (OTA).
The W850 supports a host of audio formats including MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+ and m4a. Tracks can be loaded into either the 64MB onboard memory or into the Memory Stick Pro Duo expansion slot (up to 4GB), which the latter was chosen over the newer M2 memory expansion slot.
What we loved about the W850 is that it has almost everything you need within a single portable device. Besides your usual telephony and music playback functions, the W850 is also a 2.0-megapixel (CMOS sensor) digital camera with 4x digital zoom. Camera features are almost identical to its predecessors with built-in flashlight, digital effects, night mode and adjustments such as white balance and exposure. The W850 also lets you take video clips and can even let you stream them to your PC. Of video capabilities, the UMTS 2100 powered W850 gives you video telephony capability, which also lets you download and surf Internet much faster than EDGE.
Even though the first slider phone in Sony Ericsson’s history is slightly thicker than the other slider phones in the market, it more than makes up with its list of interesting features and entertainment capabilities. From the prototype we got, we were impressed with its attractive design and the fact that it will be available in precious black and golden white is just icing on the cake. Also impressive were the layout and design of the buttons, which really made the W850 a joy to use on a daily basis. It seems with the W850; Sony Ericsson has really served up an irresistible handset, so much so we really cannot wait to see how the retail unit will be like when it hits the shores in the third quarter of 2006.