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Sony Ericsson W960 Preview

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If you are familiar with Sony Ericsson smartphones you would know that they all use Symbian Operating System and UIQ interface. The W960 is not an exception and it comes with exactly the same OS as the P1 – Symbian 9.1 and UIQ for phones with touch-sensitive displays. This means that software-wise, the two phones are almost 100% identical and the most obvious difference is the Walkman functionality. As this is a preview, we won’t describe you the boring things and will skip to only the interesting parts of the software.

This W960 is more about the fun, while the P1 is for work. This is the reason why the homescreens of the two are personalized in different ways. The P1 has shortcuts to “organizer” menus while the W960 has single big shortcut to the Walkman player. While the latter is active, it displays the “now playing” information directly over the home screen. On the bottom there are shortcuts, one to the main menu and one to an expanding list with 5x3 grid of shorctus.

W960 Home screen - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
P1 Home screen - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
W960 Home screen with active Walkman - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview

W960 Home screen

P1 Home screen

W960 Home screen with active Walkman




W960 - Now playing interface - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
W950 - Now playing interface - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview

W960

W950

Now playing interface

Walkman:

As part of the latest generation of Sony Ericsson phones, the W960 comes with the Walkman 3.0, which is the newest up to date. It features flash-based menu for its interface but unlike the non-smart K850 and W910, it is only for the music player and doesn’t cover the functionality of the video one and the picture browser. The main differences with the version 2 player found on most of the Walkmans (non-smart) are in the interface, which definitely looks sleeker. For example browsing by albums will list all available in vertical list (optimized for scrolling with the jog-dial) with album covers (if available) next to them. It is similar to the W950 but is more modern, thanks to the flash.

The Walkman can sort the music by a slew of categories, including Artist, Albums, Compilations, Tracks, Moods, Playlists, Auto playlists and My recordings. The “Moods” filter has been used in the W950 and is based on criteria (mood) you manually assign to separate songs, through the phone itself. Each will be categorized with different color, which will inflict the visualizations in the now-playing interface.

Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
Albums - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
   

Albums


As in the W950, the visualizations are occupying the whole now-playing interface, flowing over the background. In Walkman 2 phones (like the W580) they use only the small area assigned for the Album-cover, while here they take advantage of the whole 2.6 inch big display. If you minimize the player, the homescreen will also “play” the visualizations over its background and of course below the information shown on it.

Moods selection - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
Sad mood - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
Energetic mood - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview
Visualization in Happy mood over the Homescreen - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview

Moods selection

Sad mood

Energetic mood

Visualization in Happy mood over the Homescreen


We are not really keen on the now playing interface, due to not very good optimization. As the screen is 2.6” and not ~2” as it is on the non-smart Walkmans, it could have offered bigger icons which will be more convenient for touching with a finger. It is rearranged when compared to the W950, but still it is not the optimum situation in our opinion.

Long Track Title - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview

Long Track Title

The album art cover could also have been bigger if the upper half of the screen was rearranged as we mentioned above. Although the information on the track is shown with text in large font, our dislike is that if the text is bigger than the screen width, only the part of which fits will be visible. We would have preferred it to transit to the next row, to decrease in size or to scroll from left to right, visualizing all the information but this is not the case.

Equalizer list - Sony Ericsson W960 Preview

Equalizer list

If the default sound settings are not by your taste, there are 10 additional Equalizers that can personalize it. There is no change here when compared to the W950. It is strange that SE has put only a single speaker on the back of the phone, instead of Stereo speakers on each side. Still, the integrated one has lots of power and delivers good sound quality for a phone. For music on the go, the headphones are required and in the box you will find the typical Walkman ones, consisting of two parts – one that connects to the phone and has 3.5mm jack to connect to the headphones. As they are isolating, the surrounding noise will be limited but the quality is very compromising for the audio-fans, and many will prefer to switch them with higher class headphones, but still using the adapter from the box.

As the W960 features 8GB of integrated memory, it is trying to directly rival the higher class stand alone portable music players. In order to be competitive, it must be able to obtain fast transfer of data with the computer, so the music won’t take ages to load. We tested this connected to a USB2.0 computer and a lossless CD with music (730MB) transferred for 1 minute and 40 seconds, which is definitely very fast! This is transfer rate of 7.3MB per second, which means that the whole 8GB will be full for 18 minutes. An album converted in MP3 is about 60MB and will take less than 10 seconds to transfer to the phone.


Expect our full review when final, commercial samples are released.

This is our preview based on a preproduction unit, expect the review soon.

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3 Comments
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posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:55

1. SEFan (unregistered)


Love it.

posted on 22 Sep 2007, 06:57

2. zsoltke (unregistered)


this is my next mobile, thanks for the preview!

posted on 05 Oct 2007, 15:18

3. oleb (unregistered)


Now who the f**k moved the "back" button to the front!? Fire the s.o.b. - quick! Anyone who tried a w950i know the "back" button below the scroll wheel is *essential* for efficient navigation. Now its back to 2-hand operation..

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Display2.6 inches, 240 x 320 pixels (154 ppi) TFT
Camera3.2 megapixels
Size4.29 x 2.16 x 0.62 inches
(109 x 55 x 16 mm)
4.19 oz  (119 g)

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