We thought mixing gold and silver was as tacky as the Argos jewellery counter, but the Sony Ericsson W705 Walkman makes it look good. With a brushed-metal front and a stylish, squarish design, it's just bling enough... without looking like it's trying too hard.
As a member of the Walkman range, the W705 packs in the music features, but its lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone socket is a serious disappointment. You can pick it up for around £270 or free from some networks.
Walk with me, rock
Sony Ericsson tried hard to make the W705's audio quality as good as possible, and we think it succeeded. We compared the sound of a lossless WAV file on the W705 to a dedicated MP3 player -- the excellent-sounding -- using some beautiful Audio Technica headphones, and found the difference in sound quality was almost imperceptible.
Even the included in-ear headphones weren't bad at all, although as in-ear jobbies they could never stand up against full-sized cans.
The handset includes an FM radio -- the most underrated feature in showbusiness -- with TrackID, which can identify a song based on a few-second clip. We found TrackID worked perfectly for the songs we tried from pop radio, and failed gracefully with things it didn't recognise, such as speech.
It also has some wacky music features such as SensMe, which displays your music on a graph of happy/sad and fast/slow. It was accurate enough with our music, but we're not sure if we would take advantage of it.
You can store a good chunk of your music library on the W705's 4GB memory stick, or upgrade to up to 8GB if you need more. It also has 120MB of onboard memory.
The biggest drawback of the W705 is the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The included adaptor is fine for hands-free use with the included (very short) headphones, but it's a metre long -- so when we used our own headphones, we could have skipped like a boxer/small girl (delete as appropriate) with the cable. It also takes up the phone's USB port, which was inconvenient, since we had to unplug the headphones every time we wanted to transfer music. But it's got stereo Bluetooth, so it could stream to a set of wireless headphones.
As befits a Walkman, the W705 has dedicated music player buttons up front. It also has fun shake controls: wobble the handset to shuffle the playlist, snap it left and right to skip tracks, and tilt it up and down to control the volume. The problem is you have to hold down the tiny Walkman button on the top to activate the controls. The button is about 1mm square and it's flush with the phone, so even our tiny claws could barely cling to it. We struggled to hold it down while shaking the phone, which is a must for one-handed operation and undermined the whole idea of shake control.
Missing in action
Other than that disaster, the user interface is good, although strangely it lacks one or two things that we loved in other recent Sony Ericsson phones, such as the . For example, the W705 supports podcasts and RSS feeds, but our sample was missing the menu option for the application that manages them. We could still get the feeds through other paths, but it lost the W705 some ease-of-use points.