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Summary:

Consider the Sony Ericsson W600 the ideal stocking stuffer for the geek(s) in your life. An update to Sony’s venerable Walkman brand—which, thankfully, leaves out the ancient Huey Lewis cassette tapes—this diminutive device has one of the best music players I’ve seen yet in a mobile […]

Consider the Sony Ericsson W600 the ideal stocking stuffer for the geek(s) in your life. An update to Sony’s venerable Walkman brand—which, thankfully, leaves out the ancient Huey Lewis cassette tapes—this diminutive device has one of the best music players I’ve seen yet in a mobile phone yet. Announced last summer, and just recently available, Sony Ericsson has delivered arguably the best portable music phone yet, a vast improvement over the dreaded Apple-Motorola’s iPod-ROKR debacle.

Here’s why it’s the ideal gift: At just $150 (after rebate), Sony Ericsson’s newest Walkman offers one of the cheapest feature-packed phones available. In addition to an excellent and spacious LCD screen, the W600 also offers built-in Bluetooth, which makes it possible to transfer songs from your PC onto the phone easily. One thing to note: There’s only 256 megabytes of internal memory, and no external memory slot, so you can only hold about 30 minutes worth of music.


Fortunately the phone also comes up with a great FM radio with the included headset acting as a surprisingly good antenna—I experienced very little interference on most of the popular radio stations here in the Bay area. Rounding out some of the features, the W600 also packs an EDGE-radio for decent speed Internet surfing and downloads, and comes up with editing software that well let aspiring deejays mix their own songs and video clips.

Best of all, the W600 is a great phone with excellent battery life. With moderate phone usage (about 20 minutes a day) I managed to make the battery last for nearly a week and had no problems with dropped calls. The W600 isn’t Sony Ericsson’s best device to date—it’s not as solid as the S710 or the 610—but it looks great and plays music as well as any other MP3 player available that’s not called the iPod.

Review by Matt Maier, wireless and gizmo correspondent for Business 2.0 magazine. Subscribe to his Weekly Wireless Report.

  1. I agree, the W600i is a great phone. I’d have to respectfully disagree on the 256MB = 30 minutes though. If you use iTunes, highlight a number of tracks and down at the bottom, you should see the MB size and audio length. In just one of my playlists, I have 26 songs equaling 1.6 hours, and it’s only 100MB.

    Remember, the W600i can also play unprotected AAC files, so that can help cut down on file size as well.

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  2. i am pretty sure it depends on how is your music encoded. i think if you are like me, who likes to encode at 192 kbps bit rate, the files tend to be really big and you can’t fit in too much stuff. however, if you went with aac or lower rate of encoding, it surely can pack in about 100 songs. its a trade of space versus quality in many ways.

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  3. What about the rootkit? Sorry, it’s just that anything that has “Sony” and “music” together takes my mind directly to one place.

    Sure, the rootkit ref is sarcasm … but the other part is truth. It’s simply how I think now: Sony + music = bad mojo.

    I guess that name recognition and brnading thing works both ways.

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  4. Mel,

    I own this phone and it’s awesome. Also supports Cingular’s EDGE network and full bluetooth support to your PC.

    Om,

    The PC software has support to reencode (downsample) on the fly to your w600, so your 192kbps songs can stay that way but be 96 or something on your phone which really makes it hold quite a bit.

    -david

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  5. david, thanks for that tip. i am sorry we did not check this out, because we are all mac users. but that’s a good idea. best

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  6. I bought this phone for my son from Cingular a week ago for $300, got a $100 rebate and talked the guy into another $50 rebate since they offer it on-line. Radio Shack has some sweet deals on this one and the razor. He loved the phone at first and the walkman rocks. Yesterday the phone wigged out and the pixels on the screen are all messed up and it keeps going white. I took it back to Cingular and they’re going to replace it tomorrow cause they’re all out of stock till then. I know the guy and he said that he hasn’t heard of anyone else having problems. Anyone have this going on?

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  7. [...] I don’t think its going to be as easy. Take for example the six months SE sold 3 million walkman phones. During the same time frame, Apple sold nearly 21 million iPods. 14,043,000 iPods in the most recent quarter, and 6,451,000 iPods in three months prior to that. We at GigaOM are a bit mixed about the current generation of Sony Ericsson Walkman phones. Matt liked W600, but only because it was cheap. I think music phones are going to get quite popular in emerging markets because of the high cost of iPod, and lack of iTunes music store. I still think, the prices of these music phones need to come down quite a bit, and they have to become simpler to use, before they can seriously challenge iPod. [...]

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