Sony Ericsson’s Walkman W600i phone seamlessly merges two of the most often carried devices into one stylish pocket sized unit. The Walkman portion features 256 MB of memory for music, pictures, and videos. The W600i has an FM radio tuner when used with the headphone cord and a 1.3 megapixel camera with flash that takes photos and videos. With Bluetooth, IrDA, and WAP you can send and receive just about anything to other devices on the go. The w600i is available from Cingular in the US.
Design and Ergonomics
At first glance, the W600i has buttons, switches, and speakers everywhere. This made for interesting button hunts while trying to accomplish mundane tasks. You will also notice that in an age of cell phones getting smaller and smaller, this one is a tad bigger than the rest, though by no means large. Given the features it packs inside, it’s quite modest. The W600i’s circular slider design, like that of the Sony Ericsson S710, and its bright orange color are the Walkman’s claims to stylistic fame. The swivel joint is located at the bottom. It makes things confusing at times because in order to keep the screen and buttons properly oriented, you need to turn the phone upside down then open it. But, you do not need to open the phone in order to receive a call or to redial the last number called.
The number buttons are a little recessed and widely spaced which makes dialing awkward but the five way direction pad is comfortable and very easy to use. The keys are backlit in light orange which matches the phone's look and makes it easy to dial in the dark.
Be sure to use the button lock (a tiny slider switch on the side) before pocketing this phone. The buttons are easily activated and it has a tendency to call folks or browse the web when it should be sleeping happily in your pocket or purse. And don’t keep a lot of other items in your pocket which may slide the too-easy to move lock switch.
In the Box
The Walkman comes with a home charger, a pair of very good stereo earbud headphones with inline mic, and a USB data cable for uploading and downloading music.
Phone Features, Reception and Data
The quad band GSM radio covers 850/900/1800/1900 MHz and is EDGE ready. It will work anywhere in the world GSM service is available and will switch to the older and slower GPRS standard if EDGE service isn’t available. The large loop style antenna on top gave mixed results. On occasion, the phone had completely opposite reception from other phones such as the Motorola RAZR V3 using the same carrier and SIM. It did show better reception when the antenna was pointed up which makes talking with the swivel open a tad complicated.
Swiveling its way to the open position.
The voice quality was great through the handset and speakerphone, though some folks said we sounded distant when talking on speakerphone. The headphones sound great for music and calls. The W600i comes with voice dialing software which allows you to dial, and answer the phone. You'll need to record voice tags to use this feature since it isn't true speech recognition. In addition it can say incoming callers' names if desired.
The phone offers both Bluetooth and IrDA for communication with other phones, PDAs and computers; and of course Bluetooth headsets. The W600i can handle SMS and MMS using the included messaging application. It can do WAP 2.0 browsing and limited HTML browsing (the browser will often give an out of memory error browsing non-WP web sites) with the included NetFront web browser. The browser can display RSS feeds, which is an unusual feature. For gaming and other apps it supports Java MIDP 2.0. With the ability to play MIDI and MP3 ring tones, the possibilities are endless and Sony Ericsson includes a nice selection of MP3 ringtones taken from popular music.
Horsepower and Performance
The W600i is very quick navigating through menus and settings, and games were equally impressive. When playing the games (Worms, Gauntlet, and Extreme Air Snowboard) there was no hesitation and the screen refresh rate was great.
Unfortunately there is no expansion slot for more data storage. For that, you’ll need to move up to the Sony Ericsson W800 when it becomes available in the US (the W800 features a Memory Stick Duo slot for expansion). That means you’ll fit less than 100 songs into the W600i’s internal memory and there’s no way to expand on that.
The 176 x 220 pixel 262,000 color display is brilliant and crisp which makes gaming quite fun. The screen measures 1.8”, which is large enough for games and reading text messages. The relatively small size of the screen is not a bother because of the good resolution and fast refresh rate. Photos look great on the display, as do videos.
MP3 Player and FM Radio
The MP3 player is easy to get to compared to phones like the LG VX8100 and LG VX9800 on Verizon where the player is buried under layers of menus. Simply select the Walkman icon to start the player, which reads and displays MP3 ID tags, so you'll actually see your song info too. To listen to MP3's you can use the included headphones with inline remote or the three speakers, one of which is a sub woofer. It has surprisingly good audio quality for such a small phone and beats most other mobile phones easily, though it does sound a little tinny—let’s face it, it’s still just a phone! Speakers that small can do only so much. Volume wise, the little phone packs quite a punch for small rooms or in the car. The interface for playing MP3's could use a few minor tweaks but for the most part, it’s intuitive and easy to navigate. When the Walkman application is minimized, you can use the side buttons to controll music playback and volume. The MP3 player has an equalizer and even offers Sony's signature Mega Bass. All in all, it's a great sounding MP3 Walkman with a strong feature set by phone standards. If only it had more memory or an expansion slot so it could hold more tunes. Sony Ericsson includes their Disc2Phone software which burns tracks from MP3s and helps you get them on your phone. You'll use the included USB cable to copy tunes to the phone (it works like a removable drive under Windows and Mac OS). One caveat when using the Walkman feature: the battery level drops quickly when playing MP3's through the speakers, so don't plan on listening to a lot of music through the speakers if you want to make several calls afterward. Stick to those nice-sounding earbuds!
The phone uses Sony Ericsson's connector for headphones. The connector and inline remote can be separated from the earbuds should you wish to use your favorite headphones with a standard 3.5mm connector instead.
The phone has an FM radio tuner and application which supports RDS (radio data support) so it can show station names and other info provided by the station. You'll use the included earbud headphones whose cord has an integrated antenna when listening to FM radio. Reception and sound quality are good by phone standards.
The1.3 megapixel CMOS camera can take pictures up to 1280 x 1024. Other modes include 640 x 480 and 160 x 120. In video mode, you can shoot at 176 x 144 or 128 x 96. The camera saves video clips as 3gp files so viewing them on your computer is quick and easy if you have Bluetooth and QuickTime.
Pictures taken at sunset or in low light look better on the phone’s screen than the computer screen since the pixels are packed in tighter on the phone’s screen and noise isn’t as apparent. The flash isn’t the brightest, but it does help improve low light shots. The pictures had a very blue tinge when viewed on a PC.
Pictures taken in other lighting conditions came out much better though. The auto white balance did a good job and they looked sharp for being taken with a cell phone. Sadly, the W600i’s photos can’t compare to the S710’s, which were truly superb by camera phone standards.
Sample photos taken at highest resolution, resized to fit this page but otherwise unedited
Bluetooth makes it very easy to transfer photos and videos to your Bluetooth enabled computer, and you can use it to connect to Bluetooth headsets. The connection wizard is easy to use and navigate through although it was a little confusing at times. When pairing with my headset (GN Netcom GN6210Hs) it authenticated fine and seemed to be working. Then after making a connection, it told me that the connection disconnected. When a call comes in though, it re-establishes the connection and works like a charm (the Bluetooth radio in the phone may be sleeping to conserve power and wakes when a call comes in or the call send key is pressed). The audio quality through the Bluetooth headset was good and is comparable to the Sony Ericsson T637 and Motorola Razr V3.
The W600i supports Bluetooth DUN (DialUp Networking) for those of you who wish to use the phone as a wireless modem for a notebook or PDA.
The Walkman W600i comes with a 900 mAh Lithium Ion battery. The battery went through the rigors of playing music, taking photos, listening to the radio, and of course talking with decent results. For a phone with this many features, the battery should have a larger capacity but it’s on par with other feature phones in its class. The biggest drain on the battery is definitely using the speakers. Playing MP3's was the worst but even just speaker phone made the battery meter move a little lower.
The battery from fully charged lasted about three days with average use making calls, taking a few pictures, and playing games. On a second full charge, it lasted about two days when the MP3 player was used with headphones.
The phone comes with a full set of software to manage day to day tasks such as setting appointments, making to-do lists, browsing the web, and even a flashlight tool for finding things in the dark. The flashlight offers options to stay on for one minute, indefinitely, or flashing S.O.S. There are also the common tools like alarms, notes, calculators, timers, and a stopwatch. The calendar functions well and it is super-easy to set an appointment with all the details but it does not have the option for repeat entries. If you want to make an appointment for a weekly business meeting, you would need to reschedule it each week for the following date. The address book has quite a few fields, including name, company, work phone number, home phone, fax, mobile number, web site, email address, street, city, state, birthdays, photo caller ID, custom ringtone and notes.
The windows software to sync calendar, contacts and other information is called Sony PC Suite and is available for free download on Sony Ericsson's website (Mac users can use Apple’s iSync). The installer program made the setup quick and simple to configure and once everything was installed, it automatically found the phone and prompted for a sync. There was no way to browse phone book entries or edit them directly because PC Suite is merely a conduit for syncing data and not a standalone application. All contact and calendar information syncs with Outlook, and you can edit your data in Outlook then sync it to the phone. You also get software that allows you to connect the phone via the included USB cable to your Windows PC to transfer music to the phone.
The Sony Ericsson W600i Walkman is a relatively new kind of convergence device that brings together a high quality MP3 player with FM radio and a mobile phone. Sure, a lot of phones can play MP3’s these days, but the W600i offers decent capacity to store tunes, music syncing over USB and a great sounding player with good earbuds. Though a little thicker than some competing feature phones, it packs a lot into a relatively compact frame. The world band phone will work anywhere GSM service is available and EDGE keeps data flowing at a reasonable pace. The phone has Bluetooth which means you can sync PIM data to your Bluetooth-enabled computer and use Bluetooth wireless headsets.
Pros: All in one MP3/radio/phone. World capable GSM with EDGE for data. Sharp and fast display is great for games. Bluetooth for headsets and syncing. More compact than the Sony Ericsson S710a it replaces in the Cingular lineup and it has a higher capacity battery.
Cons: A little pudgy, swivel on wrong side, documentation lacking, no expansion slot and only 256 megs of memory mean that the phone holds less than 100 songs.
color LCD. Screen size diag: 1.8 ", r esolution:
176 x 220 pixels.
Standard BST-37 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. 900
mAh capacity. Battery is user replaceable. Claimed
talk time: up to 8.5 hours. Claimed standby time: 400 hours.
of internal memory.
Size:3.6 x 1.8 x .9 inches. Weight: 4.2 ounces.
Audio:Built in speaker,
mic and a Sony Ericsson's proprietary stereo headset
port. Supports polyphonic (40 voice), MIDI and
MP3 ringtones. Vibrating alerts supported.
Camera:Integrated 1.3 megapixel CMOS camera with
digital zoom. Also records video clips with audio.
Picture resolutions range from 160 x 120 to 1280 x
960 and videos can be taken at 176 x 144 and 128 x
Phone:GSM quad band world phone, 850/900/1800/1900MHz. GPRS and
EDGE for data.Access NetFront WAP browser with limited HTML support, text and MMS messaging applications included.
Networking: Bluetooth. IR.
OS. Bundled applications include Contacts, Organizer
(Calendar, Tasks and Notes), Messaging (supports SMS,
MMS and email), WAP/xHTML browser, RSS reader, voice recorder, media Player, image viewer and file manager. Desktop syncing software for Windows: PC Suite. USB drivers to use the phone as an external drive when copying music to phone is included. CD ripping software for Windows included.