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Review: Sony Ericsson W760

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Since this is a Walkman-branded phone, you'd expect the W760 to be an exemplary music phone – and you'd be right. But, there are some bizarre music control gimmicks that are both redundant and unnecessary.

First, according to Sony Ericsson, the W760 plays the following music formats: AAC, MP4, MP3, M4A, 3GPP, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WAV, General MIDI 1, SP-MIDI, RealAudio 8, iMelody, XMF, WMA 8, 9 and Pro LBR.

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I had some problem with older WMA files, however. I loaded the phone with a pile of non-DRM WMA, but the phone wouldn't play them. WMA 8 and 9 are supposed to be backward compatible, but not on the W760. The point is moot, however, if you use the included Sony Ericsson Media Manager software. I could not find any of the WMA files I had on my hard drive using this software, which uses only AAC when ripping CDs.

In this age of iPod and AAC, WMA files are probably passé anyway. If you have older WMA files you want to load on the W760, you may have to re-rip them, or you can use iTunes to convert old WMA files into AAC, then import the AAC files into Media Manager.

Pressing the "W" key on the left side of the phone activates the player and queues the tracks. Just hit "play" and you're grooving. The navigation array doubles as music controls, but you have additional control options – what Sony Ericsson calls Shake Control.

Here's how it works: Press the side Walkman W button and flick the phone to your right to skip a track. Hold the W button and flick the phone to the left to skip back a track. Hold the W button and shake the phone to re-shuffle the play sequence. Hold the W button and lift your arm up elbow to shoulder to raise the volume. Hold the W button while holding the phone arm up at the elbow then move your arm down to lower the volume.

Clever, but stupid and unnecessary. Why would you go through these goofy gyrations when pushing a single button on the navigation array or toggling the volume buttons is just so much easier. Why Sony Ericsson thought to include these ridiculous options…imagine me shrugging my shoulders.

Sony Ericsson should have saved all that gyroscope/sensor silliness and just included a far handier 3.5mm headphone jack.

The W760 parses your tracks into lists including (duh) tracks, artists, albums, genres and year. The W760 doesn't remember on which track you left off when you quit the music application, but the phone doesn't duplicate the shuffle sequence as many less sophisticated cellphone music players do.

You also get something called SensMe, which generates a playlist based on tempo and mood selected in an axis graph, similar to the Genius feature in iTunes. To use SensMe, however, you have "analyze" your tracks within the included Music Manager software before transferring the songs to the W760.

Bottom line: SensMe, like the Shake Control, is interesting but convoluted to use and ultimately of limited usefulness.

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