Sony Ericsson Summer 2005
By Jon Gales --
Sony Ericsson this week announced its latest models. MobileTracker
attended a press gathering in New York City to get a hands-on look with two of the US focused models: the W600
and the Z520a
. Both phones are very likely to be picked up by a carrier in the US (Cingular Wireless is a likely candidate for both).
Read on for our take on each model.
Sony Ericsson Z520a
The Z520a, an update to the popular Z500a, is part of Sony Ericsson's attempt to capture part of the consumer-level market. While handsets like the P910, K750 and S710 appeal to power users like myself, they don't sell well to mom and pop. Like it or not, in the US there are a lot more mom and pops than there are users like myself.
The Z520a has most of the features that the Z500a had, with the notable exception being EDGE. Since it's a consumer level phone, EDGE probably won't be missed. Here's the new stuff:
* Quadband GSM
* Light effects
* More memory (16MB)
* Better display (128 x 160 pixel, 65k color, TFT)
Also different from the Z500a, the Z520a sports a loop style antenna. It adds to the size a bit, but also allows the phone to be worn from a lanyard.
The light effects were an interesting addition--there are eight LEDs around the keypad that light up in different patterns. You can set different patterns for individual callers, allowing for a type of visual caller ID. Here's a photo
showing the light effect feature.
Along with the light effects, users can customize the Z520a with faceplates.
Look for the Z520a in the third quarter of this year.
Sony Ericsson W600, Walkman phone
The first thing I noticed after picking up the W600 was the size. While being a decent seller, the S710a is rather large. The W600 uses the same dual-front slider design as the S710a, but is overall more slender. Smaller size does have a price though, and you won't find some of the higher-end features of the S710a, including a memory card slot and high-resolution display.
With music being a focus of the W600 (hence its Walkman moniker), it was the first thing I tried out. It looks to use the same music playing software as the W800i. The browser makes it easy to look up music based on artist, playlists or scroll through your songs. It was designed with the iPod in mind. There is a play/pause button on the side of the handset that will both launch the music player (or FM radio) and in the case of recorded music, control it.
A set of headphones is included in the box. They sounded good in testing, but most music fans already have their own headphones. It turns out that while the W600 doesn't have a headphone jack (something key to a music phone), the headphones work by plugging into the handsfree cable that includes the microphone. So it's possible to simply unplug the Sony Ericsson headphones and plug in your own. This method also means that even if you use your Bose headphones, they will work as part of the handsfree system--you'll hear any calls right through your Bose headphones. It's pretty neat, but the cable will add quite a bit of length to your headphone cable.
According to Sony Ericsson, the W600 should be able to play music for about 30 hours without any phone or display usage. That figure drops down in half once the other features of the phone are used. Because of time restraints I wasn't able to verify these figures.
With 256 megabytes of memory and no possibility of upgrade, the W600 is limited in the amount of music it can play. According to Sony Ericsson, this should be between 80-120 songs. However, taking a look at my own music library, I could fit about 40-60 songs. I encode my music at 192kbps which improves sound quality while at the same time makes the files a bit larger. Keep in mind that any photos you shoot with the W600 will subtract from music storage (and vice versa).
USB is used to transfer files over from either a Mac or Windows PC. Windows users will be able to take advantage of software that eases the process.
The look and feel of the W600's software feels like other newer Sony Ericsson models. New to the W600 are two buttons located at the top of the display. Hardly noticeable at first, the buttons can be used in games meant to be played in landscape orientation--a neat addition. Since the dual-front design uses the camera on landscape, it is a natural addition.
Speaking of the camera, it's a 1.3 megapixel without autofocus. While newer models like the K750i have taken camera phones to new levels, the price constraints for the W600 forced its camera to be more mainstream. It includes an LED flash and limited video recording.
will bring you a more detailed review of the W600 once it starts shipping in the fourth quarter.
Here's a hands-on photo gallery of the W600 in use.
Sony Ericsson was showing off some neat accessories, including the Car Handsfree HCB-700. Made to be installed professionaly in you car, the HCB-700 is a Bluetooth handsfree that includes voice dialing. When you get a call and the stereo is on, the music will fade away to the call. When you're done, the music comes back on. This works in a similar manner to the use of the handsfree on the W600.
For style snobs, the HCB-700 can adapt its display color to match your car's existing stereo. The display features caller id information, as well as your phonebook if you make a call using the system.
Parts wise, there is a display, a control knob, microphone and a Bluetooth unit that is not visible.