From track playing to position tracking, the W760i is the first of Sony Ericsson's Walkman music phone line-up to go Sat Nav.
It taps into a fast-growing market for mobiles with A-GPS (Assisted Global Positioning System) technology onboard, bringing precise location finding and Sat Nav route planning to your pocket.
The W760i is a solid sliderphone design, with high-speed HSDPA 3G connectivity for fast multimedia downloads and internet access (up to 3.6Mbs). Google Maps is pre-loaded, and there's a trial version of Wayfinder Navigator mobile Sat Nav software included on the phone. Sony Ericsson also includes its Tracker app – a GPS-operated route and running performance monitoring software.
The W760i comes with the latest version of Walkman software that adds Shake control motion-sensing track changing, and SensMe mood and tempo playlist section.
The accelerometer motion sensor inside also enables automatic screen orientation as you move the phone from landscape to portrait as you peruse the imaging and music gallery and web browser.
Imaging isn't a key focal point of the W760i though; it has an unspectacular sort of 3.2-megapixel camera, with none of the autofocus system or flash you get on similar grade Cyber-shot Sony Ericssons. It eschews face-to-face video calling too, with no secondary camera action up front.
The W760i is a medium-sized sliderphone rather than a slimline model, measuring 103(h) x 48(w) x 15(d)mm and weighing a reasonable 103g. It has a 2.2inch QVGA 262K-colour display that's adequately large for viewing onscreen Sat Nav information and other content.
A large control panel area provides plenty of key room and finger tapping space, with a conventional Sony Ericsson navigation D-pad and button set-up making operation reassuringly user-friendly. As well as doubling up as Walkman control keys (buttons are labelled with music player controls), there's a quick access button on top of the D-pad for firing up the Sat Nav.
The slide out numberpad has been sensibly designed too; its functional keys are large and responsive to the touch, catering for speedy texters.
Satellite navigation tools
The W760i sensibly deploys Sony Ericsson's standard icons and tabbed sub-menu menu navigation system, making it easy and intuitive to get round.
The onboard A-GPS system adds a real bonus to the functionality of this Walkman phone. Having the ability to check your precise location, and search for directions to bars, restaurants, ATMs, petrol stations, and thousands of other locations, is a genuinely useful application we reckon will soon become a must-have on mid-tier handsets.
Google Maps is already standard-issue software on Sony Ericsson mid-tier phones, normally using approximate cellsite triangulation. With A-GPS though you get spot-on accuracy. The app works as well as usual, with various views of your position possible (incuding satellite images), plus route planning and search info sent over the air to the phone.
The W760i's A-GPS technology works well enough, and holds on to moving positions fine, though it took longer than a Nokia 6210 Navigator to initially get a location fix from satellites.
As a non-smartphone the Sat Nav software doesn't match up to the sort you can get for higher-end Nokia S60 or Windows Mobile GPS-enabled devices.
The three-month trial version of Wayfinder Navigator software included provides in-car style voice-guided navigation. This is a nice extra, and decent for a phone like this, but isn't as smoothly efficient or user-friendly a set-up as memory card-loaded smartphone mapping packages.
The Tracker running package is a nice touch, adding a bit of useful performance monitoring for anyone using their Walkman phone as a running companion.
Music player features
The Walkman music player on this phone justifies its top-billing with an assured audio performance.
The push-button Shake control function, using motion sensing to change tracks and adjust volume, is gimmicky and more convoluted than simply pressing the physical buttons – and more likely to send your phone flying. But the rest of the Walkman functionality does the job smartly with the usual straightforward and attractive user interface.
The SensMe playlist-compiling option allows you to choose tracks by mood and tempo – which could be attractive to runners - provided you've set up tracks initially via Sony Ericsson's Media Manger software before copying to the phone. Other track categories are more straightforward, with options for audio books and podcasts among the regulars.
A decent quality set of Walkman earphones are provided, delivering a detailed, well-balanced audio experience, underpinned by a solid amount of bass. There's a standard 3.5mm headphone socket adapter on the 2-piece headset, so you can plug in your own headphones to further boost performance.
Stereo Bluetooth is another wirefree headphone option; there's also a loudspeaker which gives impressive volume (good for Sat Nav), but it's tinny and bass-light when cranked up.
Onboard track storage is limited to 40MB of internal memory, though the phone comes with a 1GB Memory Stick Micro card supplied. In addition to the music player, an FM radio is built in, and Sony Ericsson's TrackID music identification software is included too.
With high-speed HSDPA, 3G downloading and streaming is snappily catered for. Full audio or video tracks downloads take just a few seconds. Browsing is swift and effective too, using a typical mid-tier NetFront web browser.
The user interface is uncomplicated, the start screen fronted by a Google search facility and address bar, and there are various page view options to optimise the way pages appear on the phone screen. RSS web feeds are supported too.
The 3.2-megapixel camera used on the W760i can produce acceptable images with reasonable amounts of detail, but isn't Sony Ericsson's best effort.
Its lack of autofocus and flash reflect limitations that are familiar within the Walkman range; the camera is similar to that used in the W890i rather than a Cyber-shot number. You have to snap in portrait mode rather than landscape, so you get a viewfinder image with borders onscreen.
We found image quality reasonable in good lighting conditions but not particularly impressive. Colours were bright but sometimes appeared oversaturated, and it didn't get shots as sharp as we'd have liked from a 3.2-megapixel shooter.
With no flash, the quality of shots taken in low-light and dark environments deteriorated. Video capture, at maximum QVGA resolution was typically lacklustre mobile quality too.
Editing your snaps
There's a smattering of post-shooting editing software, plus the facility to upload images and video clips straight to Blogger blogs. In addition, the A-GPS facility enables you to 'geotag' shots – automatically recording positioning data into image files, so they can be shown on maps.
The W760i is loaded up with the usual decent spread of Sony Ericsson mid-tier organiser applications and tools, including a voice recorder, support for email with attachments, calendar, calculator, convertor and assorted clock-based functions.
There's also an AccuWeather.com weather forecast application, plus six preloaded games, including a motion-sensor controlled motor racing game.
Impressive battery life
Similar to any phone with built in GPS, using Sat Nav can reduce battery life quicker than standard voice call phone usage.
Sony Ericsson reckons the W760i can give an impressive standby time of up to 350 hours in 3G coverage or 400 hours on GSM networks, with talktime of up to four hours on 3G networks or 9 hours in GSM coverage. The music player, can keep whacking out tunes for up to 20 hours. With average usage, with limited Sat Nav, we managed a couple of days between charges.
Voice call quality on the phone was reliable and of a generally a high standard, with good quality reception and a consistent audio performance.
Sony Ericcson's mobile highlight
The W760i is an attractive addition to Sony Ericsson's Walkman phone range.
Sure, the camera is a bit disappointing, knowing what Sony Ericsson is capable of with its Cyber-shot models, and there's no Wi-Fi to go with its high-speed HSDPA connectivity. But as a music player mobile, it produces a top-class audio performance that users will really enjoy.
There's a good spread of features to go with the Walkman player, but it's the W760i's A-GPS technology that stands out, pin-pointing it as one of the highlight handsets in the current Walkman range.