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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sony Ericsson W910i

It's official: the award for the most gimmicky mobile phone feature unveiled this year goes to Sony Ericsson. The latest instalment in its successful Walkman series introduces a "shake control" function. Holding down the W910i's Walkman button while tilting the handset left or right lets you cycle through songs when in music player mode. It's cool for the first five nanoseconds, before you realise it's easier to press one of the navigation buttons on the handset instead.

Thankfully, the built-in motion sensor on the W910i has another, more useful application. As in the iPhone, the handset automatically switches between horizontal and vertical screen orientations depending on how you hold it. Horizontal mode is particularly useful for watching movies and playing the bundled games, both of which you'll want to get stuck into after experiencing the large, crisp 6cm screen.

The W910i, however, is made for music. In Walkman mode, an elegant PlayStation 3-style menu interface lets you browse through media and create playlists, just as you would using a dedicated MP3 player. Further, the built-in FM radio tuner stands by to provide fresh tunes should you tire of your own collection.

The general design of the phone is pleasing, save for two glaring oversights. Keys are well-spaced horizontally but too close together vertically, so it's easy to hit the wrong key when bashing out an SMS. And the headphone port, typically found on the top or bottom of most music players, is inconveniently located on the left side. With the headset plugged in, this makes the mobile phone much wider in your pocket.

The sliding mechanism on the W910i is smooth and controlled but photos taken with the 2-megapixel camera are underwhelming: the lack of a flash and auto-focus feature mean images often turn out dark and blurry.

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