Sony Ericsson W900 review: Walkman the Third
The Orange World
When you switch on the phone, an orange menu pops out asking you, whether you want to run the entire phone or just its music application. Even though this type of welcoming is not new, let me explain to all beginners that running the music player alone without activating the phone section of the device saves a significant amount of energy. If you do not want to respond to this request every time you turn on the phone, simply deactivate it. Phone's initial activation also implies a guide manual, which provides you with short description of W900's basic functions.
The configuration of the stand-by display is similar to all other Sony Ericsson models. You can create your own background by placing animated pictures. A pre-installed original animated Walkman logo is available too (white logo on orange background, of course). The main menu is also orange. It is decorated with traditional transient animations, which I myself find a little bit slower than the ones in Sony Ericsson K750.
The whole main menu, including its icons organized in a matrix, is a piece of detailed graphic art. If the orange dominance tires you, choose one of the three other color schemes and activate it. Many additional color schemes can be downloaded from the internet.
The phone is equipped with a special screen saver function, whose purpose is more entertaining than practical, for it makes the selected picture or animation appear on the screen after a few seconds of display inactivity without saving even a bit of energy. One huge drawback of Sony Ericsson W900 in comparison with older models like W800 or W550 is that it does not display a stand-by clock. After a minute or so of inactivity the display goes out completely and shows no additional information, not even missed calls or messages. The brightness level of the display is adjustable.
Activity menu is accessed by the use of a special button. A separate button has been also assigned to the music player application. It is located on the upper way of the main control button. The other four ways are not predetermined and thus can be setup according to user's will. Standard functions of the context keys are fixed - the left key opens the record of received, dialed and missed calls, while the right one gets you to the main menu. To my opinion, the right context key should have been left free for the majority of users would choose to enter the main menu by pressing the middle section of the control button.
What does exactly Activity menu stand for? It is a separate menu that consists of three fields. The left one contains all missed events (calls, reminders, messages); the middle one covers a configurable list of most frequently used functions, while the right one is reserved for user's favorite internet links. This menu is highly practical and - as many K750 users will surely agree - also pretty addictive.
Top-class call application
Sony Ericsson W900 is perfectly equipped to manage all kinds of phone services. The only obstacle in this sense is its rotating construction, which complicates the overall control of the phone. While the numeric keypad comes handy when you search the phonebook, phone calls are executed more easily when the phone is closed, because the volume control buttons located on phone's side are easier to access. What I do not manage to understand is why a rotating phone like W900 does not use rotation for call answering and ending.
The phonebook has undergone no modifications; except for the fact that the bigger display, which shows 6 contacts at a time, makes it look more panoramic. The new Sony Ericsson' phonebook fits in 1000 multi-field contacts (500 more in comparison with the W800 model). On the other hand, the phonebook in the cheaper W550i has no less than 1000 contacts either. Contacts can be sorted into groups, which mainly serve for bulk message sending.
Information to go with each contact is entered in a well-organized tabbed structure. The first tab contains the relevant name and phone number, the second keeps emails and internet sites, the following tab contains a picture, a ringing melody and voice orders etc. Each contact name can be assigned up to 27 fields. Here are some of them: 5 phone numbers, 3 email addresses and a full street address - both home and at work. As I already mentioned, each contact can be accompanied by a picture, which appears when the relevant contact person calls you, and identified by a particular melody, which plays on the same occasion.
Each number in a contact entry is marked with a symbolic icon to differ it from the others. When you select a contact person, a list with all fields starting with the relevant default number unfolds. Use the horizontal ways of the control button to search the list, including emails. Further on, you can choose, whether you want to call the selected number in the usual way (by pressing the left context key), or through a video conversation (by pressing the correspondent button), or you prefer to send a message (this option is accessed from the context menu).
Searching can be even faster if you apply the voice dialing function. Each of the numbers saved under a certain contact can be given a separate label. To dial one of these labels you need to long-press one of the volume control buttons and pronounce the label. A matter of course is the Shortcut option. It assigns a particular number key to frequently dialed phone numbers. Once you have done this, you need to only press the relevant key and start dialing. If you long-press it, it will take you directly to the respective letter in the phonebook.
The Sony Ericsson W900 audio reproduction is good. The sound is clear and loud enough. The people I called did not complain about it either. They did not make any difference between calls executed with open phone and those made when the phone was closed. Ringing sounds are praiseworthy as well. In comparison to the D750 model, for example, Sony Ericsson W900's sound is mellower, with accentuated bass elements. Naturally, you are free to select your preferred ringing sound with the help of pre-installed ringing profiles. To quickly mute the phone, press and hold the grid-protected button.
When words are not enough
Apart from the GSM frequencies, Sony Ericsson W900 also supports UMTS and thus allows for making video conversations via the tiny camera located on its front side. Video conversations are established in a relatively slow pace, but obviously, such a drawback is not due to a defect in the device. In a few seconds you will see the other part's video image on the display, while your own image is viewed in a small window in the down left corner of the screen. This window is perhaps much too small, because one needs to pay extra attention on staying in focus. On the other hand, you can switch between the two images or deactivate the smaller one for good. Both options are accessed from the menu.
W900 offers a 2x digital zoom. Brightness setup and night-mode are two of the other options that can be found in the context menu. In addition, you can choose, whether the opposite part of the video conversation should see your actual video image or just a selected steady picture.
You would do better if you make video conversations with plugged in earphones or perhaps even with a Bluetooth handset for the speaker is often quite unpractical. You may also want to show your video partner the image captured by the camera on the back side of the phone. To switch to it close the device and then press the left context key.
Along video conversations both parties can share their picture. Press the right arrow to go to the second tag, in whose right part you will see previews of all pictures saved in the phone. Select one of them and send it by a single press on the appropriate button.