Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sony-Ericsson W950i

Now for a big review. Sony-Ericsson have crossed an iPod Nano with a phone - more precisely, a P910i. This phone is seriously going to blow everything away, and the only thing that even comes close is the Nokia N91, and the HTC Muse. So why am I going so crazy? This phone is the 6th Walkman phone to be released by Sony-Ericsson, and features:
  • 4Gb of flash storage
  • Touchscreen
  • UIQ operating system
  • Dedicated music buttons
  • Stereo Bluetooth
  • UMTS (3G)

Let's go through the finer details, shall we?

Firstly, this device runs Symbian OS 9.1 and the UIQ 3.0 platform - in other words it's the same operating system and interface as the the P990i, and very similar to the P910i, P900 and P800. This means it utilizes an intuitive touchscreen environment which is easy to pick up, but can be powerful enough for office features - also making it the perfect GUI for a music phone. In a marketplace where everyone must compete against the likes of Apple and their all conquering iPod, Sony-Ericsson needed an equally user friendly menu system for their equally powerful brand.

The large touchscreen provides a quick way to search through songs by artist, genre, or even Album cover. And the coup de grĂ¡ce is that the stylish, dedicated music buttons can control the music playback whatever else you happen to be doing with the phone, regardless of application.

Next, we have the 4Gb of flash memory, which is gonna be more than enough for most people - although if not, there's no external memory slot, so you're stuck with 4Gb. This of course is not the first phone with 4Gb of flash memory - that title goes to the HTC Muse. It's not even the first phone with 4Gb - excepting the models on the Asian market, the Nokia N91 has a 4Gb microdrive.

Flash memory is a more popular choice than a Microdrive because it has no moving parts, which means it's less likely to break, and it consumes less power. These days, it's reached a price at which it can compete with the older more established hard-drive based technologies. The device also features USB 2.0, and a drag and drop interface, which makes it that much easier to transfer files.

The other main way to transfer songs however, is likely to be over the air from the network provider. Companies like Orange already have a number of music phones compatible with their itunes style web and WAP based service. Using a 3G phone like this will make it quick and easy to go from humming an old favorite, to logging on, buying it, and playing it back. The main filetype used for this is the ultra-small eAAC+ format, which compresses a track down to less than a megabyte generally while keeping "CD quality". There are however no specifics as to what filetypes are supported yet.

The last point of interest I'd like to cover is that there's no camera, which while initially surprising (and in some cases annoying), shows that Sony-Ericsson, are moving away from "do everything" devices, into more niche markets such as business phones, and music phones. Wonder what we'll see in the future?



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