Sony Ericsson ‘Live With Walkman’ mobile phone – an Initial Thoughts review

REVIEW

The original Walkman was built back in 1978, when the name itself was under much scrutiny. This portable machine revolutionised the way in which we listened to music, but also prompted new ideas about how to record and share our soundbytes. The name has certainly stuck throughout the ages, but in a time when even low-end budget devices can provide a basic music player – we ask ourselves, can a Walkman phone make a vital impact on the world market?

The first thing to catch the eye is the dedicated ‘walkman’ and ‘power’ buttons at the top of the mobile phone. The 3.5mm audio jack is situated dead centre, smack in between these other two buttons – where there can be no mistaking the Sony Ericsson phone’s intended purpose. When you hold the phone it feels secure, allowing your thumb free reign of the familiar indiscriminate interface that is Android Gingerbread 2.3.

The ‘hot corners’ have become a regular feature for the Xperia handset series, whilst acting as shortcuts to some of the favourite applications. Each corner can be assigned to a particular task or application that aids in navigating through the phone, in an incredibly simple way.

There is a much smaller screen on the device, compared to the Arc, where you might find there is little space on-screen – especially when the virtual Qwerty keypad exerts its authority. Nevertheless, the menu items soon appear stark and crisp as you delve further into each application. You soon realise the Live with Walkman is quite fun, mostly because of the subtle transition effects of the OS and the ‘jelly’ effect used to indicate that a widget, menu or button is customisable in some way.

The Walkman section succeeds in providing a forward-thinking yet user-friendly music player that literally never misses a beat, excuse the pun. Accessing the musical aspects of the phone is with one touch of the ‘Walkman’ button, where the functionality couldn’t be simpler. The software is well accomplished here and the sound is well-rounded, with a basic form of equaliser on-board.

Incredibly, there is no micro SD card included in the phone’s packaging. The lack of internal storage leaves just 350MB, which only allows the storage of a few albums. The SD card is certainly worth the investment, even a begrudging one.

There is no 3G either; Sony Ericsson has arguably curbed their ambitions somewhat for what is unmistakably a music phone and dismissing two key features in this way. There is also a slight issue of responsiveness with the Walkman phone, which slowly eats into your preliminary enthusiasm. The interface certainly performs well under basic operation, but you may find that softer deft touches won’t register with the device’s screen.

In keeping with the young, the fun themed ‘Timescape’ social networking app is ever present but unfortunately, it falls short again with a combination of poorly formatted update screens and user boredom. If you were to remove ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’ from the application, the ‘bare bones’ structure offers little substance. If you do set up all the accounts on offer, there is not much reward for your efforts when the omnipotent lag of the processor comes into effect.

Despite the missing features, the Sony ‘Live With Walkman’ still brings in the patented Walkman technology to a good looking, well designed Android device. Learning to use the device is purely academic, although some of the effects are intrinsically satisfying. We hope that it is reasonably priced against its list of features, because it still has a lot to offer. Alternatively, If you are looking for a decent camera, unparalleled graphics and a supreme operating speed then there are plenty of other Androids with a much higher spec to take your fancy.

On the whole, the latest music phone from Sony Ericsson combines a neat, lightweight handset with touch screen functionality to produce a much refined music player with a phone included.

- review courtesy of LucidCX