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Hands on with Sony Ericsson's new phones

AT CES 2008, CNET takes Sony Ericsson's three new cell phones for a test drive.

Sony Ericsson W760 Nicole Lee/CNET Networks

As we told you on Sunday, Sony Ericsson launched three new handsets at CES. The new models range from high-end (the W760) to the entry-level (the W350) with one in between (the Z555a). I got the chance to handle them at a press event at Caesar's Palace and on the show floor. The W760, which was one of our Best of CES nominees in the cell phones and smartphones category, was the most appealing of the bunch. The slider design is uncomplicated, but attractive, and it had a sturdy feeling in the hand. The slider mechanism also seemed pretty sturdy, and Sony Ericsson appears to have avoided one of its usual downfalls by making a solid keyboard. I did have fun with the motion control for playing games that I originally played with on the W910. Yes, it may be a bit gimmicky, but I like it.

Sony Ericsson W350 Nicole Lee/CNET Networks

On the other hand, I wasn't quite impressed with the W350. The plastic construction felt pretty cheap and the flap covering the keyboard was flimsy. A couple times I felt it would snap right off. The display looked a little washed out, but as this is a low-end Walkman phone, that's to be expected. I'll wait until a review model arrives to give my full assessment, but at this point I'm a little wary. Fans of thin phones, however, probably will be drawn to the W350's slim profile.

Sony Ericsson Z555a Nicole Lee/CNET Networks

I also examined the Z555a. While its design is certainly unique, I'm not sure it's for me. As I said in my earlier post, I'm not a fan of the hidden display, and the plastic skin wasn't quite appealing. Unfortunately, I didn't try the much-hyped "gesture control" that allows you to silence the phone's ringer with a wave of your hand. A Sony Ericsson rep said the motion must be methodical (understandable) but I'll have to wait for a review model to see it for myself. And hopefully, that will be soon.