|The W900 is billed as the latest and greatest in the 3G Walkman phone series. Spotted at the launch in October in black and in white, the latest news is that only the white version will be released in the UK. And for the first three months, the W900 will only be available in the UK on the Vodafone network.|
As with the W550, the W900 offers the user a choice at start-up - call or music only. Now I'm familiar with three handsets in the Walkman family, and there are no big surprises here. The swivel is the same as the W550's, but the screen is larger and the rather odd handle that housed the antenna in the older model has been dispensed with. The exterior lacks the W550's groovy metal speaker covers, but the contours of the phone are smooth and suit the white skin. Nevertheless, the audio suffers as a result - the W900 has only one speaker, mounted on the back of the unit next to the camera.
The swivel flip opens the full 180°, revealing a well-spaced keyboard, including a power button in the bottom right. This is a nice feature, preventing accidental in-pocket operation. The slide lock on the side helps too. There's a sensible navigation control as well, and all this helps build the phone's music player identity. The headphones, with a lead-mounted display and roll control, fit very well in the ear. The soft rubber collars mean the earpieces fit snuggly and seal out a lot of background noise.
There's 470MB of available internal memory, with a MemoryStick Duo port for more. MP3 and WAV files are loaded over the air or through the included software. Annoyingly, there's no drag and drop functionality, and copying music via the built-in tool between internal memory and card is slow. To copy 100MB of music you will need approximately 15-20 minutes, so be sure to write the content direct to your preferred location.
Two cameras adorn the W900, one a front-mounted VGA and the other a rear-mounted 2mp job with flash. There's no lens cover, like the K600i's and as we were originally shown at a first-look briefing. The key-lock slider on the side of the phone doubles as a flash activator. Not too much of a problem as the keypad is covered during image capture - cameras can only be operated when the phone is closed.
One nice addition would have been a 3.5mm jack, allowing replacement headphones and the ability to output music to another device.
The screen is nice, with a 240 x 320 resolution and 262,144-hue colour depth. It's a shame that the W900's larger chassis isn't used more effectively. The buttons have been spread out which helps, but the lack of speakers lends weight to rumours that the W900 wasn't originally planned to be part of the Walkman family.
A good phone, but not as distinctly music-oriented as others in the Walkman series. There are some good additions to the operating system, such as bookmarks to denote phone/card location, and the more spreading-out keypad helps ease of use. The navigation control and surrounding hotkeys give a second layer of control, and the earphones are comfortable, with an intuitive controller.
With the W800 the current king of the mobile music players crowd, the W900 has a tough job ahead of it if it's to convince people to opt for this model over the GSM version. The key benefit here is 3G connectivity.