Sony’s w810i. The perfect gadget?

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When it comes to slagging off Sony I’m usually first in the queue, so to redress the balance I’m returning to the w810i WalkMan phone. After a few days playing with it, I’m convinced that it’s a genius product.

For me, the main attraction is convenience: instead of carrying around my iPod mini, phone and camera the w810i is all three in a single, small case. As I’ve already mentioned the sound quality is superb (and there’s a graphic equalizer! Woo!), and despite my reservations about the interface there are some nice touches such as one-key muting, the ability to boot into a music-only mode for plane travel, and really good T9 predictive text input. I like the way you can press and hold a number key to get to the right part of the phone book too.

Downsides? To compete with an iPod mini or nano means a memory card, so expect to pay £80ish for a decent 4GB Memory Stick Pro Duo (and if you’re sensible, a USB 2.0 card reader for speedy file transfer) on top of the £179-odd you pay for the phone. There’s a noticable lag between choosing a song and it starting to play, although it doesn’t interrupt the previous song while it gets the new one, and while the supplied headphones are excellent the teeny-tiny wee wires don’t inspire much confidence (I’ve had several sets of Sony headphones over the last few years, and they’ve all died due to weak cable connections). Camera performance isn’t great at night either, although you’d expect that from a cameraphone, and the shutter lag can be irritating too. Oh, and the supplied USB cable doesn’t seem to work with my Mac, although the bluetooth sync is flawless.

Upsides? It’s great. I’d definitely buy one, if I hadn’t already.