Sony Ericsson W880 Review
On the back of W880 there is a 2 mega pixel camera, standard equipment for most phones of a similar class. The distinction here between W880 and the Cybershop telephones is even greater than before because this module has neither flashlight nor auto-focus. It means that, according to specifications, its camera is of even lower quality than the one of the first Walkman (W800), which became available almost two years ago!
However, the interface used by the camera is similar to that of the other Sony Ericssons. It is horizontally oriented, fast and easy to use, enabling white balance control and color effects.
The camera is on within 3.5 seconds of holding its button. The picture saving at maximum resolution is also speedy – it takes about 4 seconds.
This camera is mostly intended to take pictures in the open, where light is bright and natural; given the proper conditions photos look really good, have a correct exposure and genuine colors. When viewed at 100 % though, they look slightly blurred because of the ‘noise’-reduction system. The auto-focus absence is quite evident, but provided you take pictures of distant objects such as buildings you will achieve very good results due to the camera’s fixed focal length.
There is no sense in attempting to photograph indoors or at poor illumination – the results will be quite unsatisfactory. The profuse ‘noise’ in such circumstances destroys the little detail and in a dark environment the pictures will be just as dark – there is no flashlight whatsoever to ‘brighten’ them up.
video clips at a very low resolution, which means their size will be too small when viewed on a computer (or another large-screen device); they are simply not suitable for that. Their sole usage is MMS messaging.
Oddly enough, at switching on, this telephone does not ask if it should enter Normal or Walkman mode like the previous W-series models but offers the choice between Normal and Flight instead - as with the other, non-Walkman ones.
W880 is one of the first telephones of this manufacturer to come with v.2 of the Walkman music player. Despite of the fact that the company advertises it as an entirely new product, we would rather say it is a cosmetic change without any new functionality – perhaps providing simply better comfort. During playback the names of the song, author and album are visualized, as well as a picture if the file contains one. Apart from sorting by play lists, your music can be sorted by author, album and track name. Music files of MP3, AAC, WAV, and WMA formats are playable.
The phone loudspeaker’s output is strong enough and it is pleasant to listen to music on it for a short time. In a normal, quiet environment, level 5 out of 8 is sufficient for listening. The design allows for the speaker to be heard loudly and clearly enough even when the unit has been laid on a table, despite its positioning on the back. However, in most cases you will prefer to enjoy music with the stereo headphones.
There are noise-reduction headphones like those of the rest Walkman units. One advantage is that they feature an adaptor from the Sony Ericsson jack to a 3.5 mm one; the drawback is that the earbuds have poor sound quality. None of the frequency ranges is reproduced well so instead of enjoyment, music listening can even prove irritable for discerning music lovers at times. Their sound is characterized by sharp and displeasing high frequency, unclear and ‘flat’ middle, and rumbling, undiscriminated bass. Listening to acoustic guitar proved to be a challenge to our nerves, let alone the ‘booming’ bass that turns nauseating when a corresponding bass equalizer is pushed up. As for vocals, they sound very unnaturally and flat as well.
In addition you can be dissatisfied by the rubber ear pieces. It is quite likely that none of the three set sizes will fit in, or you can even get an irritating feeling by the foreign body in the ear meatus, which will make you remove the headphones fast. In case you plan to seriously use the telephone for listening to music (which is only natural so long as it is a Walkman one), we definitely recommend the purchase of better headphones with a 3.5 mm connector. This is a way to considerably improve sound quality at a rather low price.
Another shortcoming of W880 compared to previous models is the side connector positioning, which renders the most of their kits and cradles unusable.
Another shortage is the lack of an FM radio. Obviously Sony Ericsson have not managed to squeeze in the radio module in the smaller corpus, thus depriving their top Walkman model of it. This is a pity.
Track ID application, which is duly located in the options of the main menu. This is a program, which records a sample of sound, sends it to a server, and tells the user which song they belong to. The application operated faultlessly – it recognized 5 out of 5! After vocal performances we decided to encumber it with a guitar solo of Joe Satriani – it guessed the track unmistakably. Then we ‘tried’ it with a little-known song from a compilation of electronic music (Sounds of Asian Underground), which was also recognized easily. Within around 20 seconds (including recording, sending and analysis) the program achieves very good results.
It is rare to see a screen message that Track ID has not found any results for your music.
We are disappointed by the fact that the in-built Video Player cannot reproduce MPEG4 H.264 – the codec with best results on mobile phones at present, but just like its ‘predecessors’ makes a good use of H.263. Video files can be viewed in full screen mode and landscape orientation. A converted music clip of about 4 minutes takes up approximately 17 Mb. Of course, small-sized 3GPP clips can also be played but the quality is quite poor because of this format’s limitations.
A pleasant extra in the video folder of File Explorer is the automatic start of a minimized play at pointing the file’s thumbnail.
With the help of File Explorer you can view the items, memorized in the telephone or on the memory card. Here are the pre-loaded games as well: in our case – a single Quadra Pop, a version of the TETRIS classic.
There are two pre-loaded applications: Music Mate – a Music Utility with Pitch, Guitar and Metronome simulations and a World Clock. The latter is a 3D Earth model that can be rotated at will, but you can also search by town name, first letter only.
In the Entertainment menu one will find Video DJ, Photo DJ, and Music DJ. Video DJ enables you to merge text, images, and video files in a short clip; Photo DJ makes ordinary editing of pictures saved in the telephone (like brightness and contrast control); and Music DJ is a melody composer.
Other games and applications can also be loaded thanks to the JAVA MIDP 2.0 support.