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Phones

Sony Ericsson W8 brings Walkman stumbling into the Android era

Sony Ericsson's first Android Walkman-branded smart phone, the W8, won't be causing queues round the block from gadget lovers thanks to lacklustre specs.

Remember when Sony Ericsson's Walkman phones were ubercool? In recent times, the brand has faded from view for early adopters, since it's remained a feature-phone thing, rather than making the leap to smart phones. That's all changing now though: the W8 is the first Walkman handset to run Google's Android software.

Hold your horses before dancing in the streets -- good advice in any situation -- as the W8 is less a cutting-edge Android smart phone, and more a trusty handset designed to sell lots of units to a more mainstream music-loving crowd.

That means a 3-inch, 320x480-pixel touchscreen, a fairly weedy 600MHz processor, a meagre 168MB of RAM and Android 2.1 according to Engadget. That's right: Android 2.1 Eclair, rather than the newer 2.2 Froyo or the even newer 2.3 Gingerbread. Buy the W8 now, and months of frustrated Googling for OS updates awaits you.

There's a 3.2-megapixel camera, access to the Android Market app store, and as you'd expect, there's a suite of music apps and services to justify the Walkman branding. As with its other Android phones, Sony Ericsson has made it easy to upload videos to YouTube, while its Timescape software is present and correct, including Facebook and Twitter integration.

For now, the W8 appears to be available on Sony Ericsson's German website, with no apparent signs of a UK release at this point. If and when it does come here, you can expect it to be at the more affordable end of the Android spectrum.

The question is whether the Walkman brand will still find plenty of fans at a time when any Android device kitted out with, say, the Spotify and YouTube apps is an excellent music phone.