You could never accuse Sony Ericsson of not working that Walkman brand. Its latest W705 sliderphone is a classy-looking addition to the ever-expanding music mobile lineup, adding Wi-Fi connectivity to a characteristically busy set of up-range Walkman phone features. Packing the latest Walkman gadgetry, including gimmicky Shake Control, the W705 is also boxed with a 4GB Memory Stick Micro card, and better than average in-ear earphones (though again, there's no 3.5mm socket on the bodywork). 3G HSPA provides high-speed mobile online connectivity, for fast uploading as well as downloading where networks are enabled, while there's a video call camera upfront, plus a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash.
Design and handling
Sharply styled with brushed aluminium on the front and sides, subtle gold trim, plus a rubber-feel back panel, the W705 has distinct design echoes of the W880i about it. A 2.4-inch QVGA display dominates the front, giving a bright, clear and reasonably large platform for its multimedia goings-on. Its bodywork is an acceptable 95(h) x 48(w) x 14.3(d)mm, and its 98g weight reflects the solid feel of the bodywork.
Buttonry below the screen is conventional Sony Ericsson, with the navigation D-pad and control keys laid out in an attractive circular array that's grooved and raised in the right places for finger-tapping accuracy. Similarly, the menu system is familiar Sony Ericsson territory, based around a grid of icons in the main menu and sub-menus, with tabbed sections for various lists of options. The main menu view can be changed if you prefer a more carousel or scrolling style of function selection.
Wi-Fi can be switched on or off quickly by accessing the Activity Menu shortcuts using a hotkey on the control panel. It's useful for fast-tracking to other useful functions too, like Bluetooth, Google Maps, TrackID or the phone's browser. Wi-Fi is a real no-hassle experience, activating without fuss, and able to auto connect seamlessly when you're in range of your selected hotspot.
The slider mechanism is smooth and feels robust, while the numberpad is neatly engineered - with a contoured surface and marker dots helping to differentiate numbers on the panel.
This Walkman phone leaves main music player control duties to the navigation pad - although there's also a tiny Walkman key on the top of the phone, for activating the player and initiating its Shake Control operation. This motion-operated gadgetry utilises the built in accelerometer that also auto-rotates the display in certain functions.
Holding the Walkman button down in music player mode and shaking the phone in certain ways can forward or rewind tracks, adjust volume and switch into shuffle mode. Of course, this is pretty gimmicky, as you can do most of this much more easily, accurately, and just as quickly, by pressing the normal controls.
The Walkman player user interface is very intuitive, with a familiar collection of track categories - including the SensMe option that can be used to select tracks by mood and tempo data (provided they've had this added via Sony Ericsson's Media Manager PC software before copying to the phone).
The music player performs up to the high standard we've come to expect of the Walkman collection, the packaged high-grade in-ear earphones producing a lovely responsive sound with plenty of depth.
That there's no 3.5mm headphone socket on a specialist music mobile is a regular source of irritation when we're looking at Walkman phones, particularly when the alternative is a lumpy proprietary multi-connector awkwardly positioned on the side (for maximum in-pocket snagging).
Sony Ericsson at least includes a 3.5mm adaptor on the two-part headset lead, so you can plug in your own higher quality ear-wear to further boost performance. Stereo Bluetooth wireless headphones are also supported. Through the loudspeaker, tunes sound OK but not exceptionally good.
Although the onboard memory totals 120MB, the 4GB in-box memory card is a decent enough amount of in-box storage for loading tunes. This can be done in the usual ways, using the USB cable and Media Manager software, drag-and-dropping in Mass Storage mode, or Bluetoothing over.
Over the air downloads - using Wi-Fi or 3G - are speedy, if you want to use an online or mobile operator service, or try Sony Ericsson's embedded PlayNow offering. Also listed among the Walkman player music categories is a more unusual selection: BBC iPlayer - an option that links you to the BBC's online programming service, arriving at the live Radio part of the home screen. iPlayer is also listed among the Media sub-menu options, under a separate TV heading, taking you to the live TV channel options.
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