Here’s my review of the Sony Ericsson’s W580i Walkman phone.
The W580i is a slim slider phone with a neat trick; it has a built-in pedometer along with some neat programs to make use of it.
Make sure you check out the gallery for some pictures.
When closed I like the look of the W580. The shape is cool and the curve on the bottom is interesting and smart at the same time. However I’m not that crazy when you open it up. There are these lights on the side plus you get these shiny things on the keypad that kind of remind me of a rapper’s teeth.
While the W580 is a very solid phone, it feels too empty and light. The body is made from hard plastics which make it feels a bit cheap.
The keys have a good feel to them but I wish they were a little bigger.
The display is nice and bright, and looks great indoors.
You get the usual stuff here; Bluetooth headsets, stereo headphones and a speaker phone.
The included stereo headset comes apart at the microphone so that you can use your own headphones without losing hands free capability – smart.
There’s a fast port accessory connector on the right side. It’s used for USB connectivity, stereo headsets and charging. The memory stick micro slot is located on top of the screen behind a door.
Compared with most Sony Ericsson phones, the W580 is quite similar software-wise. Where the W580 differs is that it has a built-in pedometer (which counts how many steps you take) plus some programs that make use of it. By default, the W580 shows you how many steps you’ve taken for the day on the standby screen.
There’s a running program that will tell you how long you’ve been running for in addition to estimating the distance you’ve traveled plus your average speed. You can set a minimum or maximum speed in case you’re slacking off or running too hard.
The pedometer is a neat feature. Hopefully Sony Ericsson will come out with a phone with a large vibration motor which can attach my to my belt and shake away my stomach fat.
The menu looks and works great. The icons look nice and there are some cool transitions and animations. There is a lot of attention to detail with the menu look and feel. Even though there are lots of transitions and animations, the menu is still very fast.
There’s a menu button which lets you quickly switch between applications and even run more than one program at once (to a degree). In some ways the W580 – and the rest of Sony Ericsson’s newer phones really blur the line between ‘smart’ phone and a normal one.
Phone Related Features:
Like most phones these days, the W580′s phonebook is pretty straight forward. The phonebook is split into entries with each entry having multiple bits of info. Information is split into tabs with the leftmost tabs holding more important info.
You can quickly change the profile by pressing the power button.
As far as USB performance goes, the W580′s fastport isn’t all that fast. It takes about 62 seconds to transfer a 30mb file which translates to a leisurely 483kb/s. Please note I was transferring files to the memory card so it’s possible that a slow memory card may be a bottleneck.
The USB has 3 different modes: modem, file transfer and pict bridge. You use modem mode if you want to sync the W580 with your computer. File transfer, aka mass storage mode lets you connect the W580 to any newer computer so that you can manage files without needing a special driver. Pict bridge is used for connecting the W580 directly to photo printers.
You get Sony Ericsson’s standard email application which works well with POP3 and IMAP4 mail boxes.
One nice thing about newer Sony Ericsson phones is that they include a browser from Netfront. When you browse regular webpages (like this one), Netfront will try to draw the page so that it fits properly on the W580′s small display. Netfront works okay but it’s really slow when it comes to drawing large pages (such as the HowardForums.com home page). Some of this is due to the fact that the W580i only supports EDGE speeds.
Once a page has been drawn, the scroll speed is decent.
There is a built-in 2 megapixel camera. There is no built-in flash. Otherwise you get the usual; shooting modes, night mode, self timer, colour effects and white balance.
Image quality is average for a 2 megapixel camera. It’s noisy (like most camera phones) but you still get usable shots.
To take pictures you press the center button. Once you’ve taken a picture, pressing the center button again will take you to various sharing options instead of taking another picture. If you want to take another picture you need to press back before you can take another one.
The W580 is a Walkman phone which means you get Sony Ericsson’s Walkman software and a Walkman button in front of the phone.
I like the Walkman software. It can organize your music by artist/album (though not genre). You also get an equalizer that actually works, plus you can control music playback with the side buttons even if you’re doing something else with the phone. Most importantly music sounds pretty good.
There are stereo speakers on the sides of the W580i. They aren’t bad and they are pretty loud but I have heard better (such as the W600i’s stereo speakers).
The camcorder app can only record videos with resolutions of up to 176×144. The video playback app supports videos with higher resolutions than 176×144 but there is no full screen mode to take advantage of this.
You also get VideoDJ, PhotoDJ and MusicDJ which let you play around with your videos, photo and music. They’re pretty interesting if you’ve never used them before.
Like most Sony Ericsson phones you get an Alarm, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, Timer, Stopwatch, Calculator and Code Memo.
With the alarm, you can see when it will go off on the standby screen. You can define multiple alarms and choose whether they are reoccurring or not.
The Calendar, Task and Notes can sync with your computer.
The Timer also shows up on your standby display but not the stopwatch. However, you can still use the stopwatch while you use the rest of the phone’s functions.
Code memo is just a place where you can put important bits of information in a password protected place.
Incoming sound quality is good. The only problem is the earpiece could be a little louder.
RF performance is excellent.
While the W580i isn’t quite an entry level phone it got me thinking of how far phones in general have come. Despite its price tag, you get an awful lot of functionality; a real email client, full web browser, a good mp3 player, fitness functions, an average camera, PDA functionality, etc. It’s a lot easier than it used to be to recommend a midrange phone to someone who wants lots of features.
While most midrange phones don’t really have any unique features, the W580i’s fitness features are still pretty original. If you’re a fitness buff you may appreciate the W580i since there is now one less thing you have to carry with you when you go jogging.
If you take a lot of pictures you might want to try a phone that takes better pictures (notice I didn’t say one that takes higher resolution photos).
For gadget freaks, the W580i doesn’t have every feature imaginable, go try something more expensive.
For everyone else I would also recommend the W580i. It’s not missing anything really important and doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses.
Ratings (out of 5)
|Phone Related Features
|Ease of Use
|Overall (not an average)
|*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.
- Walkman program works well
- Menus are very stylish
- Memory card slot
- Fitness functions are neat
- Strong RF performance
- Keypad could be larger
- Camera application is inconvenient
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Written by Howard Chui 09.09.2007
This article may not be reproduced without the the author’s permission.
September 11th, 2007