Sony Ericsson W302 Walkman review: Sony Ericsson W302 Walkman

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The Good Great sound quality; included FM radio; very light; trim design.

The Bad Proprietary headphone jack; clumsy music-transfer software; jaggy video; shoddy Web browser.

The Bottom Line The Sony Ericsson W302 Walkman delivers good sound quality in a neat design for a low price. For those who want a decent, inexpensive phone that plays music, it's a good choice, but don't bother with the poor camera and Web browser

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6.5 Overall

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Sometimes you don't want a massive Sunday roast with all the trimmings -- you just want something light. The Sony Ericsson W302 Walkman is light like a plate of sashimi, both in terms of its features and weight, at only 79g.

Luckily, it's also light on price. It's available from free on £25-per-month contracts with O2 and Orange, or from £60 on pay as you go with T-Mobile.

Big sounds, small package
The W302 is aimed squarely at the budget buyer, but it's still a member of Sony's Walkman family, so its sound quality is excellent. We compared the sound output from the W302 against our usual test set-up -- the wonderful SanDisk Sansa Fuze MP3 player and a pair of beautiful Audio-Technica headphones. The W302 sounded clear and full when we listened with our own headphones, and we noticed hardly any difference in sound quality.

When we used the included in-ear headphones, however, we found that the sound lost some of its spaciousness. The audio quality was still good, though, considering that we were using cheap, plasticky earbuds.

We don't like the W302's proprietary headphone jack, which is shared with the USB cable

Unsurprisingly, like its Walkman cousins, the W302 has a proprietary USB port instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack. An adaptor is included, but it adds about a metre to the cable length, so you could end up throttling yourself to music. It also means that we had to unplug the headphones every time we transferred music, so that we could plug in the USB cable. But the W302 does have stereo Bluetooth, so it could stream to a set of wireless headphones.

The handset includes an FM radio, which picked up a strong signal during all our travels around central London. It has RDS and TrackID, which can identify a song based on a clip of a few seconds. We found TrackID worked perfectly with pop songs on the radio, and failed gracefully with speech radio and the like, which it didn't recognise.

The user interface for the radio isn't as good as that of other Walkman handsets we've tried. Scrolling through stations is a slow process, setting up new stored stations is confusing, and the lack of a skip function is criminal.

The W302 doesn't support podcast subscriptions, which is a feature we love in handsets that are higher up the Sony Ericsson totem pole, like the W705 Walkman, for example. You can sync podcasts along with your other music using the free Media Manager software, but we're not fans of the software's usability. We like that it supports drag and drop, but it reorganised our music based on its own rules, and it's not clear what file formats are supported. We had to check the W302's folding user manual to learn that MP3, MP4, 3GP, AAC, MIDI, IMY, EMY and WAV are the supported formats.

Syncing the W302 is easy via USB but we aren't fans of the confusing, dull-looking Media Manager software

Files in all of those formats can be packed onto the handset's 512MB memory stick. If you like, you can spend the money saved by not buying a pricier phone on a memory-stick upgrade, up to 4GB. The W302 also has 20MB of on-board memory.