Sony Ericsson W705 review

Can the latest midrange Walkman deliver the goods?

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Our Verdict

A good handset with some great features that make it easy to access your favourite information but some of the omissions will be a must have for some users

For

  • Walkman music player
  • 3.2 megapixel camera
  • 3G
  • Wi-Fi
  • 3G HSDPA
  • Shake control
  • FM radio
  • Slim design
  • Aluminium casing
  • Good quality earphones

Against

  • No GPS
  • Back cover feels cheap and plasticky
  • No 3.5mm headphone socket on bodywork
  • Limited camera

Sony Ericsson's latest Walkman is pitched at the top of the midrange, and features juicy extras like HSDPA 3G connectivity, Wi-Fi and a 3.2 megapixel camera.

It's a sturdy little slider, the quality metal front and slide only slightly let down by the cheapy clip-on plastic back, which at least has a rubberised, non-slip feel to it. You'll need to remove it to get to the 4GB Memory Stick Micro card, which Sony Ericsson has included, though fortunately there's no need to remove the battery.

Build quality

The keypad is another of those tiny little ergonomic marvels that Sony Ericsson has perfected. The D-pad, which doubles as music player control, is flanked by call start and stop, two soft keys, cancel and shortcuts buttons, but is all easy to find under the thumb thanks to the careful shaping of the interlinking buttons. Above it the screen employs up to 262,000 colours and is arrestingly sharp and detailed.

Around the sides are Sony Ericsson's usual dual point power plug, plus camera shutter button, volume rocker and a dedicated Walkman button on top. There's also a keypad lock switch on the bottom – if you leave it on, the keypad automatically locks after a few seconds when not in use.

The latest 3.0 version of the Walkman music player is of course the star of the show and this one has all the bells and whistles that Sony Ericsson could think of. The Sony Ericsson Shake Control is back for instance, but this time you need to press that Walkman button on top to active it. Then you can jerk your hand to right or left to skip tracks back or forward, shake the handset to shuffle your playlist and raise your arm slowly up or down to change the volume. It works more reliably than in the past, but with hard button controls readily available for all these functions (except Shuffle), it still feels like a bit of a gimmick, no matter how technically clever it is.

SensMe

Also on board are Sony Ericsson's SensMe feature, which allows you to select tracks according to its place on a mood diagram, and Track ID, which identifies tracks on the W705's FM radio, or anywhere else for that matter.

The supplied headphones aren't bad at all, though you'll need to push them well into your ear cavity to get the best out of them (they sound tinny and dynamically thin unless they're in deep enough to block out virtually all ambient noise). You can add your own via the 3.5mm jack adaptor and there's also the option to add a wireless pair via stereo Bluetooth connection (we tried it with the wireless HBH-IS800 for around £80, which were up and running in a few seconds). You'll need the corded variety though to act as the aerial for the 20-preset FM radio.

The camera is a perfectly decent 3.2 megapixel model. It might lack some of the high-flying fripperies of Sony Ericsson's photo-centric C-series but it cuts a fine dash regardless. Pics are generally sharp in good light with fairly robust colour, plus there's a 3x zoom, burst mode (four pics), panorama (which pastes together three pics from left to right), LED photo light, and photo fix, which optimises light and contrast to improve your pics. There's also a VGA camera on the front for video calls.

Something we hadn't seen before is X-PICT story, which gives you options for the dissolves between themed slide shows – so you can show your pics in a way that seems harmonious, joyful, energetic, relaxing or nostalgic. Gimmicky, yes, but fun all the same.

You can send your pics direct to your website (there are built-in clients for Blogger, MySpace and Picasa) and while there's no GPS on board, you can geotag your pics using bog-standard cell-ID if you feel the need.

HSDPA connection

The browser includes BBC iPlayer and Youtube apps and though it has a fast HSDPA 3G connection, the W705's Wi-Fi connection makes the most of streaming video. Browsing is a largely painless experience too, with the onboard accelerometer flipping the screen to landscape, the better for viewing web pages, and incremental zooming readily accessible.

In keeping with Sony Ericsson's habit of including slightly bizarre features on Walkman handsets, the W705 includes Walk mate, a step counter that you can set as your wallpaper so you can make sure you keep your daily exercise up.

Battery life was pretty good too, giving us a good three days of moderate use, even with Wi-Fi switched on permanently.

The W705 may not have anything in the way of traffic-stopping new apps or interface, but as a solid, midrange update on the Walkman range, it's very fine indeed.