Sony Ericsson W900 review: Walkman the Third

David Polesný, 03 January 2006. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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Where has the radio gone?

The earphones delivered with Sony Ericsson W900 are the same like the ones we know from W800. They are of the plug-in type and are covered with rubber seals, which "get stuck" into your ears. Once you have put them into your ears, the entire world around goes totally quiet. I myself do not fancy this type of earphones and it seems that I am not alone. When I plug them in, I feel pain in my ears and not long afterwards the bass elements start causing me headache. On the other hand, I expect dance music fans to be really pleased, because the equalizer of W900´s earphones is equipped with a Mega Bass function. As to acoustic or rock pieces I would have appreciated it better if its middle and high elements were more emphasized and not so much blurred by the bass section. On the other side, if you deactivate the Mega Bass function, the bass section wears way.

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Plug-in earphones work well • connection through a standard jack

Fortunately, the earphones are connected to the cable through a standard 3.5mm jack connector, which permitted me to attach a pair of good-quality earphones of my own. This way I managed to satisfy my audio needs, but then I had to decide what to do with the supplying cable, which I had no choice but to wrap it around my waist. The trouble here is that the jack is mounted on a 1-meter long cable, while the cord of the earphones is 1.5-meter long. Next to the connector there is a speaker and a button for accepting incoming calls, which permits you to make calls with any type of earphones.

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Remote control • the entire set of earphones

In the middle of the supplying cable you will find one of the innovations in the W900 - the remote control. It is pretty small and flat and suits the black version of the phone perfectly. On its front cover there is a button and a tiny black & white display. On its sides you will find a volume control button and a special button, which plays and stops music, switches from one music piece to another, and tunes the radio stations.

And so we come to the most serious question: where has the radio disappeared? Do not look for it in the phone, because it has been installed in the small controller mentioned above. According to me, it is a rather unsuccessful solution. What's worse, you will have to forget about the memory reserved for favorite stations and the RDS application we all admired in the W800i model. The simple radio application only displays information about broadcasted frequency on the controller's display. Besides, every change from one station to another requires separate tuning.

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Control elements are located on the sides of the remote control

The side parts of the remote control, the button on its front cover and its display all flash orange in the dark. The intensity of the orange light is not very strong though, so the display is a bit difficult to read. When you play MP3 files, the display only shows orbiting lines. It will show no information from ID3 tags.

The big button on the front side of the remote control switches between radio and MP3 player. When pressed long it switches the music on/off.

Camera remains the best

Sony Ericsson W900 can perfectly be used as a digital camera as well. The maximum resolution is 1632 × 1224 pixels. The same auto-focus camera can be found in Sony Ericsson K750/D750/W800 models.

When taking pictures you can hold the phone with both your hands, just like you would do with a common digital camera. Well, in fact you have to do it, because the camera application will not go if the phone is open. Your right pointing finger will comfortably lie on the double-stage release button. The releasing process is standard - press slightly to focus and then press-full to take a picture.

Sample photos in full resolution (300-500 KB):

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Pictures are taken in a landscape mode. The functional menu appears in the bottom of the display, just like in "grown-up" Sony-made cameras. Individual functions are controlled through the context keys; the cursor button opens and navigates the menu, while the Back key fulfills its standard function. All buttons are easily accessed with thumb.

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SE W900 makes excellent macro pictures (perhaps we could have balanced the white manually...)

The horizontal ways of the control button compensate the exposure, while the vertical ones help you switch between the picture and the video application, but only when you are not in the menu. The volume control buttons below your left pointing finger control the digital zoom application. Further on in the menu you will also find other useful functions like self-timer, manual white balance, quality and size setup, creative effects etc. Sony Ericsson W900 is equipped with an option for spot metering, which speaks in its favor in comparison with existing similar Sony Ericsson models. Among them the S700 model was the only one to have it. The macro mode settings have also been modified. They are no more displayed as a part of the menu bar, but are hidden in a menu called "auto focus".

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Capturing interior objects under low light conditions

Within the camera application you will not miss the well known panoramic mode either. It allows for taking a panorama photo from consecutive pictures. The transparent margin of the previous picture is always visible; this way you can easily follow with an appropriate picture at your will. Let's not forget to mention the night mode and the flash LED, which are extremely helpful when pictures are taken in poor weather conditions. The flash diode compensates for a torch or a SOS signal too.

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Three times the same teddy bear: the first one was taken with a flash • the second in a night mode • the third in a standard mode

Sound effects during photographing are quite loud and sometime even annoying. You may choose out of four sounds for the release button or you may want to use the option to switch to silent mode instead. The latter quiets the camera mode completely (might not be presented in all firmware versions). Sony Ericsson W900 offers a self-portrait option, for the purpose of which it has been supplied with a camera located on its front cover.

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The flash diode compensates for a torch, if necessary

Picture quality of Sony Ericsson W900 is practically identical to other 2 megapixel Sony Ericsson camera phones. In other words, it is brilliant. The only drawback worth mentioning is the amount of visible noise, which increases when pictures are taken under poor weather conditions.

We should not forget to mention the video application. It offers a resolution of 320 × 240 pixels in a compressed 3GP format. Videos duration is limited by the memory space currently available. The recorder also offers a white balance option, a night mode and light activation. Video records are quite good for a mobile phone. See for yourself in the following samples:

Video 1 – passing car

Video 2 – busy crossroads

Video 3 – in the restaurant

Video 4 – sledging children (worse light conditions)

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