Review of Sony Ericsson W760a Part 1: Introduction and Design

Review of Sony Ericsson W760a Part 1: Introduction and Design
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Sony Ericsson phones initially had one major unique advantage over all other handsets, and that was the manufacturer’s phenomenal ability with music players. The Sony Ericsson W760a is no exception, as it is a music phone with great looks, the popular slider mechanism and GPS as well.

Of course, since the advent of newer technology like touchscreens, this handset has lost a great deal of interest over the two years since its release. It is hardly surprising, however, the Sony Ericsson W760a is still a stylish phone to have, and with the added advantage of getting it at a much better price than what it originally cost.

Design (4 out of 5)

Since the Sony Ericsson W760a was released a while ago, one cannot really complain about its dimensions. The clunky phone measures 103 by 48 by 15 mm. It weighs a rather heavy 103 gm, but somehow the heft adds to the charm of the phone by giving it substance and a solid feeling.

The front of the phone is mostly occupied by the 2.2 inch display, with a resolution of 240 by 320 pixels. Just underneath, there is the directional pad in the iconic Sony jog dial style. The call manipulation buttons are set in the centre of stereo speakers, and are circular in an effort to tie in the design elements. There are two context-sensitive buttons under the screen, while the menu and cancel keys are nearer the bottom edge. Above the screen, there are two shortcut keys known as ‘game keys’. The functions vary depending on the user’s preferences.

On sliding the phone open, the generous keypad is revealed. It has large buttons which provide ample feedback when the clicks are registered.

The right edge of the Sony Ericsson W760a has the volume rocker switch, while the left side has a Fast Port for charging, data cables and headsets. The left side also has the Walkman key and the top has a slot for the M2 storage card. Unfortunately, when the handset was made, Sony Ericsson only used proprietary ports, which makes it difficult to use the same cables from one device to another.

The back panel is embellished with the Sony Ericsson logo, which is responsive to the music that is played. It also lights up when the slider is open. The camera is hidden under the top screen, right at the very corner. Unfortunately, it can only take shots in portrait mode; which happens to be the reason there is no dedicated camera key.

The handset is available in three colour combinations: Rocky Silver, Intense Black and Fancy Red. All three colours combinations are immediately attractive, maintaining a stylish image whilst still managing to be quite dramatic.

Features (4 out of 5)

Sony Ericsson W760a - 2

The contacts application on the Sony Ericsson W760a is a simple enough one, with a limit of 1000 entries. Altogether, a user can store up to 7000 numbers on the handset. There is a certain amount of personalization feasible, with custom ringtones and profile pictures. Unfortunately, there is no way to view the SIM card contacts and the ones stored on the handset at the same time; however it is possible to set an automatic update to the SIM card if a new contact entry is created on the phone.

Surprisingly, the W760a encompasses Smart Dialling. It is surprising because many newer phones, which could stand to have it, don’t. It is a wonderful feature to have, as it shows up the various contacts as the user is typing in a number.

The messaging application is sturdy and can have as many folders as the user pleases. All incoming messages, except for emails, go into the inbox – which is less frustrating that having to trudge through the entire contents of the phone looking for a multimedia file accidentally saved in the incorrect folder. There is T9 dictionary support, and the application indicates when the user is approaching the limit of 160 characters. Another especially great feature is the option to store the messages on the memory card. This small option significantly ups the number of messages that the handset can accommodate. The email component is a fledging compared to what is available now, but it is certainly pretty good all things considered. There is no facility to open attachments, of course, as there are no viewers installed on the device.

Media is what really shines through on any Sony Ericsson phone, and the W760a is not an exception by any means. The gallery is fairly sophisticated, with the various types of media sorted into different folders. The handset also comes with a built-in accelerometer so the images and videos flip as the phone is turned. There is an option to turn off the auto-flip, but that seems unnecessary. Additionally, the lack of landscape mode photography is completely inexplicable considering the phone does have an accelerometer.

The gallery also has a photo-editing application called PhotoDJ. It does a fairly good job of changing colour balance and adjusting the brightness, but beyond that it is quite powerless. There is a charming slideshow option which allows the user to set a mood, and accordingly plays background music whilst the photographs are moving. Presumably it is tied up to the music player and the SensMe application – in a remarkable case of integration.

Of course the music player on any Sony Ericsson phone is practically unparalleled. There is an equalizer with presets, album art compatibility and the SensMe application we mentioned earlier. In short, SensMe is an automatic playlist creator. The way it works, is that the user tags the music files with certain attributes. Then the user can set their mood, and the SensMe application will review the attributes and create a playlist based on that mood. There is also the Shake control, which uses the accelerometer to detect the movement of the device, and accordingly changes the tracks playing. Unfortunately, the Shake control only works if the Walkman button is pressed, which detracts somewhat from its appeal.

The camera has a 3 megapixel resolution which is quite good. However, the camera application falls sadly short of expectation. There are a few modes thrown in, but on the whole the experience is almost medieval. There is no autofocus and, as mentioned before, no dedicated camera key. It is not possible to shoot in landscape mode, rendering the entire camera frustratingly limited.

The connectivity options are diverse, including EDGE, GPRS and Bluetooth.The GPS is a little on the weaker side, but it does allow for geo-tagging. The heavier applications like maps may not run smoothly due to weak signals, but it was a step in the right direction at the time.

User Interface (4 out of 5)

The Sony Ericsson W760a has the standard colourful layout like the previous models. You can opt to use the grid main menu, one with single icons, or the icon carousel. Of course, there is always the option to use a theme to personalize the handset further. You can also choose to turn on icon animation if you prefer.

The Activity menu is perhaps one of the best features, as it sorts various apps into multiple tabs for easy reference. There are four tabs in all: one for frequently used programs, the second has running applications, the third has the user-configured shortcuts and lastly, the fourth has the web interface. The menu is very easy to navigate, and gives you a bird’s eye perspective of the events taking place on the handset.

The handset is easy to use, as it sports the S40 operating system commonly seen on Sony Ericsson and Nokia mobile phones. It is certainly very colourful, with attractive effects.

Performance (3 out of 5)

The battery lasts quite a bit of time under moderate usage circumstances. This usage certainly does not include musical playback and use of the GPS receiver. On the whole however, it is exceedingly good.

The screen is a normal TFT one, which is pleasant to work with, until the user encounters bright sunlight. This seems to be a recurring problem with TFT screens, and therefore it is not too much of a surprise; more of a disappointment. That being said, the screen otherwise is attractive with many colours.

Practically the entire phone is backlit, including the keypad and the main menu buttons. The speakers also light up, which is purely aesthetic addition and a very welcome one at that.

The Verdict (3 out of 5)

The Sony Ericsson W760a is a nice phone with some great features, like the SensMe application and the Shake control. The camera, on the other hand, was a huge disappointment. The design and feel of the phone is very nice, and the attempt to include every imaginable feature may have been slightly over-ambitious, but it was a good attempt.

Overall, the phone is a good one and it is a pleasure to use.