Review: Sony Ericsson W810
When Apple launched the iPod Nano, black outsold white by something on the order of 5 to 1. Sony Ericsson took notice of black's return to popularity, and the majority of high-end handsets they have announced so far this year are black. The W810 is a smooth black matte rectangle with nicely rounded edges. The rounded edges - as well as the slightly rounded top and bottom sides of the phone - make it a joy to hold. The matte finish contributes to this as well since it's not as slippery as a gloss finish. It is just large enough to hold comfortably when punching out a text message, but not large enough to make a significant bulge in a pocket.
The body is just as nice to look at as it is to hold. The smooth, all-black looks with touches of chrome and orange give the W810 a classier look than any of its Walkman predecessors. In addition to orange touches on the body, the keys are backlit with orange, a nice detail that adds to the overall look and feel of the phone.
When the W810 was announced, current W800 or K750 users expressed some concern to us about the small bulge that protects the camera lens and the lack of a lens cover. The lens was more smoothly integrated into those previous models. However the lens seems well-protected - no scratches appeared during our testing - and the small plastic protrusion that protects the lens was unnoticeable when holding the phone or slipping it into a pocket. We didn't miss the lens cover for protecting the lens, but it is sorely missed as far as starting the camera. We will discuss this further in the camera section.
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Above the camera shutter are the volume controls, which also double as zoom controls for the camera. On the other side of the screen, but in the same position, is the play/pause button. Because of its placement, and the fact that it is easier to press than the volume keys, this button is often accidentally pressed when trying to manipulate the volume. So if, for example, you use the volume key to reject an incoming call because you are in a meeting, but accidentally press the play/pause button simultaneously, your music will immediately start playing even if you weren't in the Walkman application. You can imagine this can be quite disturbing. Because there is a dedicated Walkman key, and the D-Pad select is mapped to play/pause, we wonder why this button was included at all. In the current configuration, it does more harm than good.
Each key on the W810's numeric keypad has a good deal of space between it and any other key, it is also raised from the face of the phone enough to feel. Based on these factors alone, the W810 should have any easy to use keypad. However the short length from top to bottom of each key places the keys in a slightly different position than where our thumbs expected them to be. Especially after being spoiled by the large keypads on clamshells and sliders, the keypad on the W810 took us longer than usual to adapt to; once we did adapt, our typing speed never reached what we are capable of on most other phones.
The softkeys, navigation buttons and shortcut keys are all well defined and easy to press. It is rare to press the wrong key by accident. Despite our complaints, this also holds true for the keypad. Even though we were typing slower, we were not making mistakes. The only confusing aspect of the keypad is the use of the same D-Pad layout as the W600. The center select button of the W810 looks like a joystick surrounded by a chrome ring. But instead it is just a simple select button and the ring is a D-Pad.
Our report from CES in Las Vegas. Hands-on with Cingular 3G phones, Moto ROKR E2, Sony Ericsson W810, new Samsung sliders, Pantech's new lineup, and more!
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