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The "Live With Walkman" Android 2.3 smart phone from Sony Ericsson

The phone comes with a unique GUI interface.  (Source: Sony Ericsson)
Mixed package offers some appeal, but is unfortunately limited

Sony Ericsson -- a 50-50 mobile devices venture between Sweden's Ericsson AB (privately held) and Japan's Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) -- appears to be finally getting serious about the U.S. smartphone market.

In May it released the long-rumored "PlayStation Phone" (official the Xperia Play) in the U.S. on the Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) network.  While the phone received enthusiasm for its slide out gaming controls and overall relatively slick Android experience, it has been sluggish in sales with Sony Ericsson resorting to selling the phone for 1 penny with contract through retailer Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN).

Today Sony Ericsson revived [press release] another familiar brand -- the Walkman.  It has created the "Live With Walkman" phone, which promises a music-themed smartphone experience.

The phone features several key technologies including a proprietary Walkman-branded music player app, which promises to make slicker playlists than the average Android, and xLoud integration, which promises to allow users to go deaf quicker by making "it possible to listen loud without distortion."

The phone itself looks distinctive, with a slick stylized case featuring extremely curved top and bottom lips.  It's hard to tell if this is conscious effort on Sony Ericsson's part to avoid becoming Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) latest lawsuit victim 
[1][2][3][4][5] (Apple claims to own the rights to any thin black rectangular smartphone).  But regardless, it's nice to see smartphone makers thinking outside the box when it comes to design (à la Nokia Oyj.'s (HEL:NOK1Vunusually-shaped X7 smart phone).

When it comes to the operating system, Sony Ericsson again deserves kudos.  Unlike some sluggish third party partners, Sony Ericsson is delivering the latest and greatest version of Android -- Android 2.3 "Gingerbread".  

And it even has one of the first skins that seems like it might be more of a help than a hindrance -- a design in which the home screen has four interface elements that serve as customizable launchers for apps and features.  Overall the launcher looks pretty sweet.

But for all the good, comes the bad.  They say that beauty is often only skin deep.  That's certainly true with the Live With Walkman phone.  

Inside it packs an anemic 512 MB RAM (with 320 MB for apps, same as the Xperia Play) and a single core 1 GHz MSM8255 Snapdragon processor (with second generation ARMv7 "Scorpion" core design and Adreno 205 GPU) from Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) -- a chip also found in Xperia Play and "Desire" from HTC Corp. (
SEO:066570).  It's not exactly weak, but to call it "powerful" seems a bit of hyperbole, when many Androids are debuting with faster dual-core processors.

While in most apps you may not notice that big a difference with the processor -- and may come out a bit ahead even with battery life -- the phone's single most egregious flaw is its low resolution 480x320 3.2-inch color screen.  Such screens are going the way of the dinosaur, and it's sad to see one in what otherwise would have been a polished flagship product.

The rest of the hardware is mediocre -- Bluetooth 2.1 (typical), Wi-Fi, aGPS, 5 MP camera w/ HD (720p) video recording, mini USB, etc.  Since the phone is a bit more bulbous, it would have been nice if they could have squeezed in a full 1/4" headphone jack (which would have added to the audiophile appeal), but they only manage the standard 3.5 mm model.

In short, if you asked us if we wanted to "Live With Walkman", we're pretty conflicted.  After all Sony Ericsson is offering some sweet exclusive smart phones between this and the Xperia, and is showing off some surprisingly good-looking GUIs.  However, its poor screen resolution and lack of memory make this an Android phone which we feel is best suited for entry level Android buyers only.

 



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1/4" headphone jack
By Azsen on 8/22/2011 6:41:36 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Since the phone is a bit more bulbous, it would have been nice if they could have squeezed in a full 1/4" headphone jack (which would have added to the audiophile appeal), but they only manage the standard 3.5 mm model.


1/4" headphone jack in a phone? Living in dreamland there. Does anyones earphones seriously use 1/4" jacks? I can't imagine wanting to plug in some full-head 1/4" headphones into their portable player and go walk about down the street.




RE: 1/4" headphone jack
By NainoKami on 8/22/2011 6:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, that I would like to see! A phone with 1/4" TRS! :) That's over half the thickness of an iPhone 4... :)


RE: 1/4" headphone jack
By ProZach on 8/22/2011 8:13:28 PM , Rating: 2
That is funny, but maybe it was supposed to say "2.5mm instead of standard 3.5mm," hmm?

Another reason that a 1/4" adapter isn't on these devices is the possibility of making some tech-kiddies insecure about their gizmos ;)


RE: 1/4" headphone jack
By Dark Legion on 8/22/2011 11:33:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That is funny, but maybe it was supposed to say "2.5mm instead of standard 3.5mm," hmm?

Nope, the article was quite specific, and how exactly would 2.5mm appeal to the audiophile over 3.5mm?

And is there really any difference between having a 1/4" built in vs. having a 3.5mm to 1/4" converter?


RE: 1/4" headphone jack
By Etsp on 8/23/2011 9:06:00 AM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking the main difference between the 1/4" and the 3.5mm is the amount of wattage you can send through the cable. Which still means that a 1/4" doesn't make sense on a mobile device.


RE: 1/4" headphone jack
By invidious on 8/23/2011 9:15:46 AM , Rating: 2
1/4" has a larger contact surface which gives it a less interferance than 3.5mm, 3.5mm jacks are pretty terrible in general, they are only used due to convinience and cost.

If you are spending $200+ on a sound system don't ever use 3.5mm jacks. The only place you might is for a computer speaker set, but I would highly suggest that you get one with optical input and use that whenever possible. I have had several components damaged to the point where they crackle due to loose 3.5mm connections. Also its amazing how much clearer the sound is without all the of analog noise from inside your computer being amplified.


RE: 1/4" headphone jack
By drycrust3 on 8/23/2011 5:25:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
1/4" has a larger contact surface which gives it a less interferance than 3.5mm, 3.5mm jacks are pretty terrible in general,

I thought the "interference" or noise was because of impedance mismatches, not specifically because of the type of jack used. If the phone impedance matched that of the wiring, which matched that of the headphones, then you'd get almost no noise.


RE: 1/4" headphone jack
By Parhel on 8/23/2011 10:24:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Does anyones earphones seriously use 1/4" jacks?


Sure, plenty do. I have a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 with a 1/4" jack, and I think most larger high end headphones are set up the same.

I'd prefer the smaller jack in a phone or an MP3 player, though. Larger headphones are more of a desk / home theater item, and you can use an adapter if you really care.


RE: 1/4" headphone jack
By shiftypy on 8/24/2011 3:50:46 AM , Rating: 2
At least this is better than W350 "walkman" phone I owned. It didn't have any headphone jack and you had to use their proprietary sony port-3,5mm(headset) dongle


Another trap from Sony...
By greylica on 8/22/2011 6:22:27 PM , Rating: 5
This is probably another trap. Once you get one of those, you will have a locked software phone that may one day be one of the first suicidal electronic device controled like a botnet by Sony. Or then they will format your SD card with a new file system that could be disabled with no warnings, and only readable once you install trojan horses in your PC. And if one day you discover how to break chains with them, you will probably have to smash your device with a hammer because you will be hunted like a person whose made a crime to the humankind.




RE: Another trap from Sony...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/22/2011 6:45:43 PM , Rating: 5
Sounds like the exact same end user experience one can expect from an iPhone. Except without the broken antenna and exploding batteries. As far as "mediocre" hardware, how is that any different? As long as it looks "pretty" and has a slick UI, morons will line up for it.


RE: Another trap from Sony...
By snakeInTheGrass on 8/22/2011 10:21:04 PM , Rating: 1
Just out of curiosity, then what are the people who eagerly line up to get something that's "ugly" and has a crappy UI? Geniuses? More likely Aztek owners.

Gotta run... apparently my battery is exploding! (???)


RE: Another trap from Sony...
By dsumanik on 8/22/2011 11:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
The iPhone is sluggish by today's standards to be fair... Thatll change next month...But it Still has the best screen on the market....as for the antennae... Get a case... Like you would have anyways...now no more droppy droppy and you can hold it like jobs says you can't.

I will never be able to use anything with less pixel density again, in fact I think we need the entire industry moving to 300+ ppi screens.... Eventually it will of course... Probably in the next decade.


RE: Another trap from Sony...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/23/2011 9:54:45 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong. The iPhone "retina" simply cannot match the Super AMOLED plus display. It clearly does not have the best screen. Yes, it has slightly higher resolution. But that's like saying a higher res TN panel LCD is a "better screen" than a slightly lower res S-IPS panel. Umm no, not even close.

quote:
as for the antennae... Get a case


Great argument. Hey your new car's alternator is faulty? No problem, just carry spare car batteries or jump start it! Gosh!


RE: Another trap from Sony...
By DJ Brandon on 8/24/2011 10:45:23 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong. The iPhone "retina" simply cannot match the Super AMOLED plus display. It clearly does not have the best screen. Yes, it has slightly higher resolution. But that's like saying a higher res TN panel LCD is a "better screen" than a slightly lower res S-IPS panel. Umm no, not even close. Nearly the best. Great argument. Hey your new car's alternator is faulty? No problem, just carry spare car batteries or jump start it! Gosh! Really dude? Come on not at all the same!


RE: Another trap from Sony...
By xti on 8/23/11, Rating: -1
RE: Another trap from Sony...
By Parhel on 8/23/2011 10:19:12 AM , Rating: 2
I wish I could rate that up even further.


Bandwagon Hype
By mmc4587 on 8/22/2011 6:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
Geeks may be under the impression that everyone NEEDS the latest and greatest, but most folks just want something that is functional (like the I-Phone).

The Sony W580i was a prime example:
It came with tethering support (right out of the box), copy-paste, multi-tasking, and drag-n-drop for files AND apps.
The music player had 15 volume settings (not 10) and EQ.
It had smart music searching (variable speed fastforward and rewind with folder progression independent of playlists) and recordable radio...
</opinion>




RE: Bandwagon Hype
By Odysseus145 on 8/23/2011 12:35:54 AM , Rating: 2
I had one of these and loved it; especially since I could go 5 days without charging it.


RE: Bandwagon Hype
By Omega215D on 8/23/2011 1:18:30 AM , Rating: 2
I'd have to agree. Not everyone needs a dual core processor or super sized RAM. This is meant to be a nice lower end smart phone that focuses on music playback. It looks pretty nice too.

The only problem I have with this thing is the screen... that could've been bumped in resolution at least. Of course, I have my THunderbolt and will always have a separate MP3 player so I can have long battery life from both devices.


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