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Review of GSM/UMTS-handset Sony Ericsson W850i

Sony Ericsson W850i live photos>>>

Standard kit:

  • Handset
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • Users Guide
  • CD with software
  • USB sync cable
  • MS Duo Pro 1 Gb memory card and adapter
  • Stereo-headsetHPM-70

In 2006 Sony Ericsson is planning on extending its proposal even further. Considering that many companies have already launched their sliders, release of similar models by SE was only a matter of time. Thanks to big leap up of its production facilities and bigger investments into R&D sector, the company has managed to bring up more models to the market. All this has made many users compare SE to the markets best - Nokia, which share the same policy in certain ways and on top of that a number handsets of these two giants are nothing else but direct rivals. While similar in some respects, Sony Ericsson spends much less money on developments, since the company is not ready to scatter its funds, and therefore displays not much of activity in the field of smartphones and introduces fewer all-new models as against other competitors. But things tend to constantly change, and success on original cell phones market paves the way for filling more niches, namely those of the other form-factors.

Model Cindy was to hit the shelves in June but early in 2006 it was postponed due to intentions of announcing and eventually releasing Sony Ericsson K790i/K800i in the first place. The model precisely copies Sony Ericsson K800i, featuring slightly altered feature set, different camera and integrated Walkman 2.0 media player. One and the same core functionality means that the model will reside in the same high price bracket and what is more is going to be boosted by widely known standard kit of all Walkman-branded handsets price-wise.

To differences, interpreted as obvious drawback and refuse to spread new M2 memory type, many refer MS Duo Pro expansion slot. Nonetheless I have to destroy this myth - Sony Ericsson is going to end incorporating Duo pro slots after this model. Mass switching to M2 format occurs in view of gradual raising of the production of these cards and therefore less price, so it has more of a induced step in it. But it isnt the main point of interest about the upcoming change many people will find themselves somewhat in trouble since a PSP or a digital camera by Sony they own make use of MS DUO Pro thus all this seems to be a well-calculated and evaluated move aimed at applying different memory types to different platforms. The second and in fact the most reasonable explanation is the struggle for free space in casings of the modern handsets, and the older a card is the more room it takes up. And if in course of 2006 we wont have the pleasure of playing around with some slim handsets by the company they are bound to appear in future, but will have significant differences from the sense of slim word implied by other manufacturers. SE is more likely to stick to its credo of high price/quality ratio and overwhelming feature set and introduce devices of moderate thickness.

Reasoning from the W850is announcement time one could have expected it to carry an M2 adapter, but not an MS DUO Pro slot, as all latest prosperous solutions of the company boast exactly this type. And thus we have all rights to surmise that its release date was rescheduled, basically there is another reason arguing for this point of view, namely, product placement. The device appears in DaVinci code for the very first time, where the heroes look up all information in Google using the W850i, borrowed from a guy in the bus. Take into account the fact this film was released on the 18th of May and the companys tradition to promote only the models already on sale, and the puzzle is complete. The next film to feature one of SEs handsets is Casino Royal, another story about James Bond, where Mr. Bond himself will show off a brand-new Sony Ericsson K800i. By the moment the motion picture hits theaters, the device will have already appeared in retail stores. So how comes the W850i got delayed? Sony Ericsson was simply aware of increased competition and made a decision to sustain a pause in order to acquire more loyal consumers. But enough of lyrics, time to give Sony Ericsson W850i a test.

The handsets design doesnt appear monolithic it has eye-grabbing uncommon elements, making it look somehow different them all other devices of the same class. The same holds true for Sony Ericsson W900i, where official black finishing was diversified with orange edging of the navigation pad. Other manufacturers are not aiming at experimenting with outlook of their products and thus present solutions in austere style without flashy colors. Though the first glance wont reveal any fancy parts of the construction, saving for the button under the screen, painted in orange.

Another unusual component if the navi-key integrated into the surface, making you think it retains touch pad technology, however this isnt the case. The plastic used there is more flexible, so that you can press it and move through the menus in all possible directions. Points to be presses are marked with light indicators (tiny spots with backlighting), which dont lack illumination owing to more powerful diodes placed nearby. When not playing back music the keys are lit in white, but once the first notes start coming out from the loudspeaker the backlighting turns into pink. The dedicated orange Walkman key incorporates two KeyPulse LEDs. Considering that the main block of light diodes also adopts this capability, you gain something like son of lumiere. Though the best version of KeyPulse one could experience in Motorolas handsets, to be precise in Motorola v80 that model could even synchronize pulsations not only with outgoing tunes, but also with those surrounding the phone, further more, variety of backlighting colors and sizeable illuminated area earned this phone the all-round first place in this category. Of course it was followed by several solutions by Nokia, but the truth is not a one of them could even be an even match for the v80. For some people Haptics has managed to become that emotional bond, sought by all manufacturers.

All in all KeyPulse is only the first step towards equipping handsets with full-featured illumination systems reacting to certain activities of user. And this handset deserves a note only because in dark it looks quite appealing.

The handset measures less than Sony Ericsson K800i, at any rate length-wise (984721 mm). At the same time it features almost the same dimensions as Sony Ericsson K750i does, as you see. The weight of the W850i is almost reasonable 116 grams which is common for its class.

Video, dimensions, comparison with other models (wmv, 11.4 Mb)>>>

Other details of note are the speakers grill, moulded back cover and a stylish Walkman logotype on the rear. There very unnoticeable things make all the difference between a device by a grand manufacturer and by a small company, making the outlook of the particular handset complete. Design and appearance are equally matched here, and consequentially improve the experience.

The model comes in two trims - Precious Black and Golden White. As you might have guessed our unit possesses the white one. But which one is more fetching that was what rose heated debates among our staff. No doubt, the darker finishing scores an obvious victory on face-to-face comparison, but let me remind you how many sliders in black are on the market at least a dozen, although they differ from the reviewed device design-wise, but look pretty much alike from a distance. Now what about white as a matter of fact there arent so many of white-colored phones out there maybe some models by Samsung, e.g. Samsung X810, or Siemens EL71 featuring silver color. Basically these are manufacturers themselves who made black color the dominating one. So this is the stage where consumers step into the limelight with their desire to be noted with a fresh-looking handset in their hands. By the way, Sony implements the same policy with its PSP console while the black trim gets higher sale rates, the white finishing is far behind, but not because of being unpopular or unclaimed etc., but due to the European distributors preferring more spread colors. This has eventually led all customers, who would like to get their hands on a white PSP, to the shady market, where they are offered more expensive (by huge 10-15 percent as compared to the black ones) units.

In Sony Ericsson W850i case I suppose there will always be a share of consumers (approximately 20 percent) who would buy a phone in white color. On the Russian market though it might be an exclusive model granted to a single distributor which will have considerable profit from selling it. The argumentation on whether the white trim makes the outlook less luxurious or not, is understandable; yet it should go no further than just expression of thoughts. In practice a white-colored unit looks very solid and does not exposes any cheapness. Starting from Samsungs experience, we can justly say that popularity of certain color schemes is about money invested into their promotion. Generally speaking, any finishing may become a hit with proper advertising campaign and slogan. Depending on the handsets trim, the earphones differ color-wise respectively. The headphones are well-known to anyone familiar to the Walkman series these are HPM-70 (regrettably a standard version).

An interesting peculiarity of the slider is the top halfs rear design it demonstrates how thoroughly the manufacturer was developing the handset. Its normal to see there uncovered screws or the ways of the spring mechanism. Sometimes it blends with the outlook, sometimes spoils the whole impression, especially when people around you spot all these screws. For example Siemens meaningly stresses their presence, on the contrary Nokia disguise the screws with stubs, but here you will find neither stubs nor screws, and this is just great.

In its very first slider Sony Ericsson could have made several disappointing mistakes, but it didnt. The surface of the sliding part lacks any fastenings, the plastic these doubles as the ways, while the spring mechanism is hidden inside the casing - a thing to accomplish for other sliders manufacturers.

The slider is armed with a auto-completion mechanism, which smoothly slides back and forth up to the click. Springing the device open doesnt bring problems. There is a minor vertical gap between the two halves when the handset is open; however it was made in order to prevent the halves from cuddling up to each other on the whole this peculiarity causes no nuisances.

Video, sliding mechanism in use (wmv, 7.7 Mb)>>>

Right above the screen one will find the speakers grill as well as a front-faced VGA camera intended for video calls only - Sony Ericsson K800i retains just the same construction. There are also A-B keys on each side of the speakerphone, which can remain unnoted at the first glance, since they mounted in the casing. Owing to bulky size there buttons are handier than those found on the K790i/K800i. Using them you can start up photo album and slide show mode from the standby screen, the are also of certain use in games, which feature landscape mode action, e.g. in Worms 3D.

The display reflects up to 262 K colors at a resolution of 240x320 pixels (2 inches, TFT). This allows it to holds up to 8 text lines and 3 service lines in majority of modes, e.g. while browsing the Net, working with e-mail services, and while messaging you can squeeze even more lines by decreasing font size.

Similarly to latest models of this company, mirror insertion is used in order to improve readability of display when you are located outdoors. Picture remains visible. On the whole the screen is quite nice, although it does not blow your mind away, its a clear average level or slightly higher than that. You can find better displays in several products from Samsung and Motorola.

Lets head back to keyboard, it is made of plastic, soft-keys are big. Keypad is convenient, upper row does not stick to case, this sets keypad trouble free. Unlike other phones from this company that are presented in candy bar shape, here theres enough space for good layout. Backlight color is white, its equally spread and clearly visible in various conditions.

Turn on/off button is located on top side of phone, with its help you can quickly switch between profiles, lock keyboard, enable aircraft mode. By the way, you can answer calls and perform all basic operations even if phone is closed.

Service LED is located on top side too, as well as MemoryStick DUO Pro extension slot. Hot Swap is supported.

On the bottom you can see standard interface connector Fast Port (USB Mass Storage and USB 2.0 are supported), theres also microphone, and hole for strap on the left. IrDA is on the right.

On right side you can see Camera button, and two keys that are used for volume control are located slightly higher than that. Such layout became standard for Sony Ericsson. There arent any keys on the left side.

Flash is located on back side, its a simple led, just like in Sony Ericsson K750i, you can also use it as flashlight. Cameras module is standard for companys product line-up that are not referred to as photographic models, theres no Auto Focus, 2mpx CMOS matrix, and a small mirror for self-shots.

Battery type is Li-Polymer BST-33, its capacity is 900mAh, it becomes standard for all recent models. According to manufacturer, handset is capable of working for up to 350 hours in stand by mode and up to 2.5 hours when youre talking in UMTS mode and up to 7.5 hours in GSM networks.

This handset worked for around 2 days with 1 hour spent for phone calls daily and 5 hours for listening to music, 20 minutes were dedicated to web-surfing. But in case if you talk less than that handset will work for 3 days, but thats not a highly likeable scenario. In European networks you can expect longer life-time, at least two times longer in all modes this is due to better network coverage.

Manufacturer claims that this model is capable of 30 hour of continuous music playback. It was interesting to clear out if thats actually possible. So in order to do that we inserted 2gb memory card, filled with music of any kind. Volume was set to maximum, shuffle mode enabled, headphones were default ones. Result was quite interesting: handset worked for 28 hours, which is more than Sony Ericsson W300i. This parameter is leading one for all phones available on the market and refers to third generation of Walkman devices from Sony Ericsson. More information regarding work time can be picked by reading following article http://www.mobile-review.com/review/music-phones.shtml

Leaning side key in stand by mode allows finding out time and % level. This function is original and is present only in Sony Ericsson phones, its quite adaptive, numbers change depending on what you do with your phone (for example, after 20 minute phone call this setting may become minimal and later on it will be bigger).

Bluetooth version is 2.0, it supports EDR, you can setup extended energy saving mode in the menu. A2DP profile is present too, and it allows using wireless headphones. Bluetooth was reworked, and now more devices produced by third party manufacturers are supported. However, considering fact that realization of this technology by Sony Ericsson was nice before that (above average), there should not be any problems.

Melody synthesizer is 40-tone one, but it is used only for playing midi-tones, for other stuff you should use mp3 files or any other type, like eAAC+. Amount of internal memory is 60mb.

Menu

Before talking about standard application, Id like to point out phones advantages and what has changed comparing to previous models. Heres a short list of major facts, some of them were already covered:

  • Memory card MS Duo Pro instead of M2;
  • KeyPulse sort of son of lumiere during ring tone playback;
  • Pseudo sensor keys;
  • Updated Walkman player interface, v2.0;
  • Playback time has been improved for up to 30 hours;
  • TrackID function support;

Its a certain fact that we had reviewed all innovations, now we have to conectrate on player and see what it can do.

Walkman player v2.0. First change was cosmetic, but its obvious: interface color is black, not orange. Changing color was a good idea, interface looks interesting. Player can be accessed from stand by mode by pressing orange Walkman key. Pressing it again will minimize player.

Video showing how player works (wmv, 14.2 mb)>>>

Player was reworked not only in range of interface, there are also changes in playback algorithm, or its just a subjective effect affection. Playback quality is different from other models except for Sony Ericsson W950i. Model is really similar to that elder brother of his, though sometimes you may feel lack of bass, but thats noticeable only on few songs. Comparing with Sony Ericsson K800i, which formally has same codecs but different interface showed total difference in playback quality on identical headphones. Phones sound different and Walkman model looks like a winner here although formally K800i is not bad at all. I got the impression that the company decided to make phones built on same platform different from each other by changing sound render algorithm. An interesting solution that makes choice of your phone more complicated and deep. So far difference is not so noticeable, and actually only few consumers will be able to feel it, but this can become more significant in future.

For a start you need to upload your own music collection to the device, in order to perform this, use Disc2Phone application it copies all files to the folder, containing music. Besides, this program may be applied to moving contents of your CDs, since all files stored on compact-disks are automatically converted into MP3. In case you want to set up the music collection on your own, you will just require copying files to any folder, or creating a new one. Nesting level doesnt affect a thing here, as the device check the memory without your help. Having finished copying, you will need to update the music library this is performed via a special function the handset locates all files and folders, and then gets the necessary data from ID3-tags. Supported audio formats - MP3, AAC, AAC+, E-AAC+, WAV, WMA and m4a. There are no limitations on bit rates; you can also upload files with VBR. The company recommends using files with 192 Kbit/s bit rate.

In the music library, all saved tracks are classified by the following characteristics:

  • Artists the application displays general list of artists in alphabetical order, one can conduct a fast search here;
  • Albums sorting by albums titles, search function is available as well;
  • Tracks general list of all tracks, sorting is conducted by tracks titles or ID3 tags;
  • Genre sorting, which uses various music styles, like Hip Hop, Jazz, Blues as criteria.
  • My playlists these are playlists, made up by user, that can be created both on the device and on PC, while viewing contents of the flash memory in USB Mass Storage mode; the handset also locates then when updates the library;

Difference from W950i is lesser interface flexibility, theres no genre search, neither there are automatic playlists or rating of metadata of files (sorting files according to your mood). This difference is explained by one simple truth W950i is a smartphone.

Additional feature is Album viewer, you can see them only by titles, or titles with pictures (vertical list), or only pictures (matrix 3x3). Switching between modes can be done with 1 touch.

Horizontal transitions between different tabs allow viewing not only album, but also artists list and songs. All navigation can be done via one or few touches, and on each list you can use search by first or several letters.

In playback mode you can select if corresponding image will be displayed (matching album) or Visualization (sort of screensaver that acts in tact with sound). Repeat one and all songs can be enabled, as well as Shuffle mode. Rewind is progressive, if you hold the button, steps change.

Theres demo playback mode, that way player will play first few seconds of each song.

HPM-70 headphones are shipped with the handset, they are using Fast Port interface connector, meanwhile on the cord you will find 3.5mm jack for typical headphones. The quality of the headphones is one of the best on the market, although they are slightly yield to the ones in Nokia N91. On the other hand, rubber wrap is more comfortable, they will suit most consumers, theyre fine for daily use.

Phone supports OMA DRM 2.0, which makes it compatible with almost all online shops that sell music. Manufacturer included Online channels menu item, here you can add different online shops. Depending on your operator and weather phone is sold by one or not, links in that menu may vary. New links can be downloaded with help of your operator, but thats possible only in few countries including Russia, but this will not be actual in upcoming years. An important fact is that download service works in minimized mode, you can order music without exiting player.

TrackID. Just like in Sony Ericsson K790i/K800i this handset has TrackID service, thats when you can find out songs title when listening to it on radio or recording it via microphone. Usually it takes around 3-4 seconds for length, later on file gets transferred to server GraceNote, where it interacts with huge data base. Unlike other models in W850i you can not only get song title, but also buy it. Service is interesting due to momentum, instant and impulsive ability of buying that song you were looking for. Its hard to say something else about this service.

Now we shall speak about standard functions that are maximally match other last gen phones built on Sony Ericsson K800is platform.

The interface of the models seems familiar, as it doesnt differ from all other Sony Ericsson devices: the main menu has the appearance of a grid, consisting of 12 icons. Fast number navigation function is onboard these shortcuts can be created for the majority of pre-installed by the manufacturer items on the menu, though this option is disabled for personal files and applications.

Text input remains on its comfort level, so, pressing the "#" key brings out a list of the available languages and you can easily switch between them while typing.

Besides traditional vertical sub-menus, the vendor has provided thematic horizontal tabs. It means that while viewing a list of the dialed numbers, one can see not only the dialed numbers but in the same time (horizontal joystick striking) switch between missed and received call tabs. In the phone menu this kind of navigation is provided anywhere it's possible and it makes using the phone much easier. The menu ergonomics is quite high in this phone model. I also note that such horizontal panels appear in Phonebook, Settings and another menu items as well.

Widening of Activity Menu functionality is the result of the fourth tab addition. The first three ones display various events, like missed calls, memos, messages actually all this regards the first tab. One can disable Activity Menu for these events as well in this case pop up windows, reminding of a certain event type will appear on the screen. The third tab features the shortcuts, which should you set up yourself. And the added fourth one contains links to the most frequently used applications and resources and the top of this list is claimed by Google search. To tell the truth, the way Google trade mark affects consumers can be compared to voodoo conjuration. Thats why this search engine is used by several other manufacturers as well.

The second tab is the most interesting, since it appears to be some kind of a task manager, featuring the list of all running applications. The previous handsets by Sony Ericsson supported only multitasking you could play a Java-game, listen to the radio or player and type a message at once. Though these devices made one more step forward user is able to run two Java-applications at a time and switch between them. This may come in handy, in case you use an ICQ-like mobile client, which should be constantly online, and at the same time want to play a Java-game. Up to now analogues of these devices by other manufacturers haven't been announces however Nokia is scheduling introduction of this function in its handsets for the end of 2006 beginning of 2007. The up-to-date models provide possibility of simultaneous execution only for standard applications and one third-party program, and at that they can share the same network access. Later on they intend to add the capability of running two third-party applications at once this function is going to be incorporated before commercial launch of the devices, as its very attractive and relevant nowadays.

Video, java works in background mode (wmv, 5.31 )>>>

The updated USB-connection function can be rated as innovative as well from this point on youll have to choose beforehand whether files on memory card will be accessed or not (data transfer mode). In the former case, the device shuts down, so youre able to browse memory card and in the latter one you are offered various USB settings for accessing the network basically the handset transforms into a modem. As far as I remember similar realization of this function was featured only in Motorola ROKR E2, where you could use USB Ethernet (though the main point here and there is the same).

Phonebook. Up to 1000 contacts with fully filled in fields can be stored in the phonebook, but number of phone numbers is limited to 2500. This means that despite ability to assign up to 5 phone numbers to one contact, you cannot go over 2500 entries. This is enough even for most active users, only few have more than 500 entries in their phonebooks.

Like I mentioned above, several phone numbers can be stored for one contact, as well as address, email, IM number, other contact information. In settings you can select the required fields, they will be available, meanwhile the useless ones will not be present. Contacts can be sorted by fields, including name and surname, but only one input field. Unlike previous models, this time we have dynamic, handset automatically sorts the list after changes.

It is possible to assign custom ringtone and photo for each contact. During incoming call the image and ringtone will be used. Date of birth field can be synchronized with Organizer.

When you are inserting information, you can scroll between tabs, in the first one you enter phone numbers, their sorting by types. On the whole the organization of this process reminds of Outlook, and it means comfort in the first place. Voice tags can be added for required phone numbers, names, there can be up to 40 of them. Voice dialing remained the same, it starts looking archaic with all these voice independent recognition software being implemented by competitors.

When you are scrolling the contacts, you can try pressing the joystick to the left or right side to see more information about desired contact. Its natural to bind phone number that will be used by default. From now on Open Contact option is present in the context menu, it allows viewing the whole contact without going into editing mode, as it was before.

The company still follows its traditional beliefs that SIM-card is used in case of emergency, thats why the only way to see its contents is to go to special option in the menu. SIM contacts are not displayed in phonebook.

You can create back-up copy of all entries from phonebook, it will be stored on the memory card, so you will have the ability to restore them afterwards.

Contact Groups are required only for mass SMS sending, since it is impossible to bind custom ringtone or photo for Group.

Messaging. All possibilities for operations with messages are standard, there are templates and possibilities to create your own. Phones memory together with SIM-card is used for storing messages. Chat function is supported. On the whole everything is just like in any other phone from this company. Only emoticons icons were changed, they became more interesting.

The MMS realization is great as always, you can literally create video clips, there are lots of settings and this is one of those things that gives SEs product parity over competitors.

E-Mail client can send and receive emails, all sort of encodings are supported. The emails can be stored to memory card.

In email settings you can setup separate password for SMTP-accounts, this is very convenient. Settings are flexible, support of almost all encodings, and not only Unicode was added. Attachments that are supported by the phone are presented as icons in email body. The phone is not working with office files or PDF, but they can be stored in any directory. The limit for outgoing/incoming email size is set by operator. Emails with 6-7mb attachments can be sent without any problems. The phone supports Push Mail standard. Naturally send & receive process are done in background mode.

RSS Feed. The settings are extremely simple, you jus specify the title for feed and its address. The phone will connect and download it. You can update only one item, or the whole feed at once. Possibilities of built-in browser are used for displaying the feeds.

Call list. Up to 30 records can be stored in common list, all with date and time. Icon that stands for call type (missed/received/dialed) is shown next to every entry. Besides this additional icon identifies if this phone number is present in the phone book or SIM-card. The list of missed calls can be seen separately, it stores up to 10 entries. In this menu you can also see the cost calls, length of all cals, outgoing calls and last call. Tabs are present, this saves some time.

Entertainment. Photos, music files can be accessed from this menu. MusicDJ function is rather interesting, even though it is a niche product and there is not much of a chance that this feature will be in high demand by users. In the editor you can create and edit ring tones, up to four tracks.

Advanced version of MusicDJ is called VideoDJ, it allows editing not only music files, but also adding images and signs. The final result is presented in 3GP file which can be sent by MMS or Email, or just transferred to another phone.

The creative ones can use graphical editor PhotoDJ, you can draw simple images. Sometimes time flies when youre having fun with PhotoDJ, but most of the time this feature is just useless.

Remote control ability to control other devices via Bluetooth connection. It is standard for all phones by SE

The sound can be recorded by Dictaphone, it allows making voice tags that can be later used as ring tones. Phone calls can be recorded too, this is done from context menu there is no time limit.

Games the phone has two games: Extreme Air Snowboarding, Gauntlet.

Radio. Memory for 20 radio stations, automatic search and RDS function are implemented. The radio quality and presentation is the same as in case with K750i, it is okay. FM-radio would seem like an ordinary application, if only it did not have Identify Music option in the menu. While you are listening to any radiostation and a thought I want to know the title of this song pops up in your head, you can find the answer with the help of this feature. After activation it will store about 3-4 seconds of the song and connect to special server that will analyze the song. The result will be presented as tag scrolled in the upper part of the screen (horizontal and vertical orientations supported). At first this service will be free for SE users, it will be launched approximately this summer.

Organizer. Organizer keeps a lot of function underneath. Lets review Calendar in the first place. There are three types for viewing the events: weekly, monthly or today. In last option you will see list of all events and memos, in two others you will see highlighted time or day. You can switch to required day and year, or month. Everything is pretty standard, as well as schedule input. You get the chance to name the event, define the place where it will be held, length and setup the reminder (beforetime or right at the start of the event). For the first time events can be reoccurred. Types of reoccurrence: daily, monthly. Reminders work even if the phone is turned off, unless you disable this function.

To do list in this phone is quite ascetic. There are only two types of events: phone call or reminder. On the other hand, this is really enough, simplicity has its advantages.

The phone has full-fledged search, organized for calendar: you specify the search line (word or part of it) and after a while you will see all events that would match this criteria. The function works rather fast even if the organizer has more than 100 entries, fast switch to the event from the search window is supported.

The phone features normal transfer of schedule to various devices (traditionally via IrDA and Bluetooth). Choose the required interval (day, week or month) and send all entries. Id like to point out that the device should support PIM function in order to open and display this data properly. It is possible to send the schedule to TV-set through IrDA connection, the TV-set accepts it but is unable to display the received goods. Data can be received the same way, with the help of desktop or office PC without any additional software.

Notes. The phone supports notes entry, though they are limited by length. The name of the note will be first word entered. This is not always convenient since you will have to use first word that would automatically tell you what the note is all about. .

Alarm Clock. Weve got changes in this one, now you have five alarm clocks, and each of them can be set up. They can work in definite week days. Besides the ringtone for alarm clock you can selet small note and picture, they will be displayed when alarm clock goes on. Any music file or radio can be seleted as the alarm itself.

Stopwatch/Countdown. Here everything is quite standard, although the same can be said about the stopwatch, that has temporary value function. The phone has special application for storing secret codes, which was a great hit in previous models, well, standard calculator is present too.

World Time function is inside.

Connectivity. All communicative settings for the phone can be setup from here, starting from WAP and GPRS (the EDGE settings are same) and ending up with Bluetooth and Synchronization. I will not describe the standard options, they are standard in the first place, everything works fine. Id like to highlight stable Bluetooth work, no problems were encountered, synchronization with other devices runs smoothly, all profiles (including A2DP, which is stereo sound via Bluetooth) are supported. Bluetooth version is 2.0 with EDR support.

Local and Remote synchronization can be setup from the same menu. The phone supports HID profile which allows using it as Remote control for PC and other devices.

The following Bluetooth profiles are supported:

  • Dial-up networking profile
  • Generic Access profile
  • Generic Object Exchange Profile
  • Object Push Profile
  • Serial Port Profile
  • Handsfree Profile
  • Headset Profile
  • Synchronization Profile
  • Basic Imaging Profile
  • File Transfer Profile
  • HID Profile
  • SyncML OBEX binding
  • JSR-82 Java API
  • A2DP

WAP. The browser owns separate menu item, the version is 2.0, it supports secured connections which is quite important in case you are using electronic transactions. New wallpapers, themes and ring tones can be downloaded right away, its all available at the original web-site.

Standard browser for Sony Ericsson phones is NetFront, it supports one-line web-page display and HTML. One of the convenient parts is ability to create folders with files, bookmarks. The browser is considered as one of the best on the market, but limited phone resources does not make its usage into one easy process. On the whole those who are using Internet constantly should consider buying PDA or laptop, since full Internet access is not in such high demand for this device class. At the same time RSS Feeds support is great, it allows using the phone for reading news, announcements and materials.

HTML pages that content advanced formatting or overcome 500kb in their size will not be displayed. On the whole standard browser is optimal, but usage of Opera Mini is preferable, it has more opportunities.

Settings. This menu stores all settings related to phones work and partly with its outlook. In the stand by mode clock can be displayed in the bottom (yes or no), you an also choose the font size, in case you select big letters it will be easy to see what time it is, but the font itself becomes transparent. There isnt anything to add, all the rest is standard.

File manager, memory size. The user has 10 MB of available memory add empty M2 memory card to that too. Here all data (photos, videos, applications) can be stored. The remaining memory is occupied by preinstalled applications, you cannot delete them. Part of memory is dedicated to phonebook, call lists, etc.

The phone has simplest file manager, with its help files can be sorted by various folders, custom directories can be created in phones memory, files can be moved there as well. With or without cable the phone can become a perfect storage, there are no problems with recording your own files, even if they cannot be opened by the phone.

Traditional file sorting includes the following options: date, type and size. The Image Gallery has new setting called Timeline, after you activate it you will see a bar on which months will be shown. And in lists you will see photos that were made during this or that month. You can make the list more detailed by pressing the same key twice, in that case you will see days instead of months, meaning that photos will be sorted in the following structure: list of images made on October 3rd, for example. This is a good way to wander around tons of images.

Camera. The device is equipped with a 2 MP camera with a CMOS matrix without auto-focus.

The device supports three possible resolutions - 1632x1224, 640x480, 160x120 pixels. Two types of data compression, Normal and Fine, are at your disposal. The majority of the photos represented are in the Fine quality. The photos differ in size almost two times depending on the resolution. Thus a photo in the Normal mode takes about 300 KB when the Fine quality gives 500-600 KB. Saving the photo takes the same time not depending on the case, that is about 1-2 seconds, and that is quite well for such a file size. If to take several photos one after another (not a Burst mode but just successively) then you'll notice slightly slowing writing speed (to 3-4 seconds). According to subjective feelings the device buffer is expected for 2 MB of memory.

Video, photo album (wmv, 4.59 Mb)>>>

The camera settings look the following way:

  • Shutter sound. You can choose on of the three shutter sounds but not turn the sound off.
  • White balance. A possibility to choose between an automatic mode or Incandescent, Fluorescent, Daylight.
  • Effects. Several effects may be applied to the photos, they are Negative, Solarize, Sepia, Black & White.
  • Timer is activated for a certain time period for self shooting.
  • Night mode is for shooting in the dark. Noises raise on a photo, exposition is increased (you shouldn't move the device in order not to get a blurry photo).
  • Shooting mode. Normal mode, that is taking usual photos. A multiple mode (Burst 4) allows taking four photos for a series. Landscape is a very interesting mode that allows taking rather unordinary photos, has no rivals for the moment. The last mode is taking photos with frames, photo resolution decreases automatically.

The screen serves as a viewfinder when in the shooting mode. The picture moves very smoothly and everything is clearly seen. Number keys help in switching between various functions and shooting parameters quickly that fastens work greatly

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

 

  (+) maximize, 1600x1200, JPEG

 

Video may be recorded in two resolutions (176x144, 128x96), file format is 3GP. Clip duration may be limited (up to 10 seconds) or unlimited. The quality of the clips is average and obviously inferior to many top models.

Video sample 1 (3GP, 60.9 Kb)>>>

Video sample 2 (3GP, 217 Kb)>>>

Impressions

Despite the polyphony being 40-tone, the handset does not provide a breakthrough in sounding of mp3 tunes as compared to other Sony Ericsson branded phones. The loudspeaker is average volume-wise and has a great part of basses in its sounding, so the call is easily heard even on the street. The silent alarm is of moderate power or even slightly higher than this, but even this admission isnt an excuse for cases when it is too weak to be felt. The receiving part is on the same level as that of other products by the company in other words, its very fine.

What are advantages of W850i over Sony Ericsson K800i? First of all, rich bundle that is typical for Walkman phones. Second, significantly reworked player that has better playback quality, no matter how strange it may sound. Other differences are minor but still noticeable: different maximal storage capacity (up to 4gb at the moment), better keyboard but worse navigation key. Basic functionality is quite the same for these two, with one difference in favor of K800i, which is camera. Camera is not key point in Sony Ericsson W850i, its facultative and provides corresponding quality.

First slider by Sony Ericsson turned out being interesting music solution, it provides longest playback time on the market, has top-notch sound quality, new player version with more interesting interface and possibility to buy music in online stores. Taking fact that theres 1gb memory card in the package, this handset has no competitors in this segment. This is a solution for those who loves listening to music, looking for compact phone with great deal of features and long battery life. Smartphones can provide two times less battery life cycle with similar tasks.

Price will be around 400-430 Euros when model will go for sale in August (in Russia this price will be around 550-650 USD). There are no direct competitors, it takes intermediate position between top solutions like Nokia N91, Sony Ericsson W950i and mass models like Nokia 3250, Sony Ericsson W810i.

P.S. You will be able to get separate remote control on which mini-jack for standard headphones is located. Phone supports cable for transferring sound to external stereo system. Long discussions on weather this model be popular with K800i around topic turned out in unexpected conclusion. Yes, this model will become popular in its segment, but it will not reach K800is sales numbers. This is most optimal model in price/quality ratio for its class. New form-factor adds some additional bonus points to that.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Alexandr "Lexx" Zavoloka (alexander.zavoloka@mobile-review.com), Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 29 May 2006

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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