Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman review: Droid's got talent
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman comes with a standard set of accessories. You get the essential USB cable and detachable charger head, a pair of comfortable earphones in matching white color and 2 gigs worth of extra storage on a MicroSD card in the phone itself.
A bigger memory card will certainly be in order if this Walkman phone is to be used to its full potential.
At 106 x 56.5 x 14.2 mm the Live with Walkman isn't the smallest of phones but still reasonably compact and comfortable to hold. The all-plastic handset weighs a manageable 115 g.
Design and construction
The fresh and youthful Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman has the recognizable styling of the new Xperia lineup. The phone is only just on the right side of chubby, no offense meant. It's nothing that stands in the way of comfortable handling - quite the opposite - the phone virtually sticks to the palm. It's just that the Live with Walkman lacks the sharp sporty feel of the Ray and the miniature magic of the new mini.
Our test unit looks fresh in its white paintjob. Alternatively, there’s a black color combo too. The two versions of the phone have different color accents. The headphone jack LED and the Walkman logo are orange in the white handset and flashy green on the black.
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman has a 3.2” HVGA (320x480) display of 16M colors. The sheet of glass above the screen stretches from the earpiece at the top to the standard set of Android controls at the bottom.
This is not the Bravia-engine-powered Reality display of the Xperia mini. The garden variety TFT unit has good brightness and pleasing colors but poor contrast. The outdoor performance is what suffers the most. The Live with Walkman fails to match the sunlight legibility of the Xperia mini.
Above the display you'll find proximity sensor and the secondary VGA camera. Network video calls are not supported but the front cam will do for chats on Google Talk or Skype. There’s an ambient light sensor too (the phone has manual brightness as well). A tiny status LED is the last thing to note next to the earpiece.
Under the display users will find the Back, Home and Menu keys. The updated Xperia design has capacitive Back and Menu buttons, each side of a physical Home key. The Home button is soft but clicky, while the capacitive controls are well-defined, nicely backlit and haptic enabled. All are very comfortable to use.
The Right side of the phone features the volume rocker and a half-press-enabled dedicated shutter key. Both controls are well defined and tactile, with nice press feedback. The half press of the camera button is quite delicate and needs some time getting used to.
The only thing on the left side of the Live with Walkman is the MicroUSB port. Placed right in the middle, the connectivity port could get in the way if you need to use the phone while charging. On the other hand, landscape use is very comfortable (e.g. browsing or watching videos).
The top of the phone is where things start to get interesting. The 3.5mm headphone jack has a trim of orange plastic. It’s the light effect LED, which is one of the music player options. The dedicated Walkman button is up there too, along with the power/lock key.
The bottom of the phone isn't too crowded. It features the microphone pinhole and a lanyard eyelet.
Rearside, you'll find the 5 MP camera lens with a single LED flash, an etched out Walkman logo, the usual Sony Ericsson badge and two speakers for stereo music playback. Placing the device down on its back doesn't seem to muffle the sound – it gets amplified instead. The battery cover is all white but with matte finish for better grip and fingerprint resistance.
Removing the back panel reveals a 1200 mAh battery, the SIM compartment and a non-hot swappable microSD card slot.
Battery is quoted at 14h of talk time in 2G and about 6 and a half hours in 3G. Standby is 600h/850h in 2G and 3G respectively, with over 17 hrs of music playback. Those numbers are a bit exaggerated, of course. The barely lasted a whole day of heavy use (always connected to both the 3G and Wi-Fi networks, heavy browsing, music and video playback, and the usual imaging tests). Otherwise, we had it on stand-by for just about two days.
We're pleased with the handling and looks of the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman. A neat and simple package, though not feeling cheap at all. They did well to freshen up and energize a familiar design. The phone looks cool in white, although the black combo has a charm of its own.
The phone feels solidly built and has near perfect hand fit. Just make sure the screen size works for you. Generally, it's absolutely fine for navigating the interface. It’s just the on-screen keyboard that may be a problem.