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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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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
"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad














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