Sony Ericsson W960 boasts one of the most elaborate music players we have seen in a mobile phone. Of course, it supports playlists with shuffle and loop options, while offering the usual equalizer presets including the Walkman MegaBass. The dedicated music player key on the keypad, along with the touch-sensitive multimedia keys, that come alive once you've started the player, offer great user-friendliness - not that we would expect any less when a Walkman-branded mobile is in question. The touch-sensitive keys react to every touch, no matter if it's your fingers or some other object.
Much as with W950, you can sort all your music by using the Rating and Mood categories. First, you can add ratings to the songs and then filter the available tracks by their rating. Mood is another label you can add to your tracks, allowing you to subsequently filter songs and listen only to those that suit your current mood.
The track filtering is advanced enough with artist, album, compilations, playlists and auto playlists available as options. The auto playlists deserve special attention - you can have the handset dynamically create playlists based on rules such as top rated tracks, most played tracks, latest additions, tracks from a specific year or decade, bookmarked tracks, least played, or last played tracks. Unfortunately, the player doesn't use the actual file names for filtering, but the ID3 tags only. So, if there are some tracks that do not have their ID3 tags set up correctly, the filtering lists them as unknown and they are left out of their respective albums.
Track searching is also available by using a dedicated box in the bottom left corner. It can accept even handwriting, if you have set it to be your default input method.
As we already said, the greatest innovation is the addition of several fullscreen background visualizations. They change in speed and patterns according to the mood label your current track has.
The player also offers a sleep timer allowing it to turn off automatically after a user-defined period. One of the coolest things about the player is the option to scroll through your tracks using the side Jog Dial: a lot easier than on any feature phone.
The external speaker of Sony Ericsson W960 provides a nice listening experience - nothing less than what one would expect in a Walkman phone. The speaker manages a very soft and pleasant sound, though lacking ample bass.
|Now, an intriguing accessory of the W960 is the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS220 stereo Bluetooth headset adaptor. You get a Bluetooth adapter to plug in your very own third-party headphones. The sound quality is nice and they easily receive signal from as far as 7 m, when no obstacles are in the way.|
Unfortunately, we cannot rely on our audio quality test for determining the quality of the sound produced by the Fast port. It seems that our test unit (being a pre-release one) has a sound equalizer setting that is permanently on and cannot be turned off manually. It seems to be suppressing the low frequencies, while pumping up the high ones. So it produced a rather strange frequency response graph that cannot be compared to other handsets. Anyways you can have a look at it as well as have a peek at the other numbers that we collected through analysis. More on our audio quality test can be found here.
Editorial comment: The review of the Sony Ericsson W960 was written before the handset had become market available. At this pre-release stage the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS220 stereo Bluetooth headset adaptor was to be offered as a standard accessory in the W960 retail package, however later on Sony Ericsson dropped it from the accessories list. The Sony Ericsson HBH-DS220 stereo Bluetooth headset adaptor is now available as an optional accessory, which can be bought separately.
Now, an intriguing accessory of the W960 is the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS220 stereo Bluetooth headset adaptor. You get a Bluetooth adapter to plug in your very own third-party headphones. The sound quality is nice and they easily receive signal from as far as 7 m, when no obstacles are in the way. We really liked the sound reproduction when listening through third-party regular headphones. The headset adaptor has a clever miniature charging port that uses a regular Sony Ericsson charger. In terms of battery life the Bluetooth adaptor naturally scores differently when used with large home stereo headphones and small ear plugs. The music volume levels are also of importance. In our case of listenig to music with large headphones and high volume levels the Bluetooth adaptor lasted 2-3 hours of constant music playback with a single charge.
The Video Player application offers nice functionality. You can watch your videos in landscape mode at fullscreen view. The W960 has support for streaming H.264 video content, so you can surely watch high-quality online TV on it.
The stereo FM radio that the Sony Ericsson W960 is equipped with supports RDS and can store up to 20 radio stations. If the radio station broadcasts RDS data, it will get automatically stored in the phone memory with its name. The fullscreen visualizations used in the music player are available here as well, although with the FM radio you can choose their colors instead of relying on the mood ratings.
The FM radio makes use of the same fullscreen visualizations - only here you can pick their color • you can scroll through the radio stations with the Jog Wheel and you have a sleep timer at your disposal, too
The radio is equipped with the TrackID function, which records several seconds of a song you are listening to, matches it against Gracenote's server database and returns the name and artist. As we have seen in so many other Sony Ericsson phones, the service is reliable in around 50% of the cases.