The other key feature of the w810i is its camera. Able to shoot stills at resolutions up to 2-megapixels and with a macro mode, 4x digital zoom, autofocus capability, panorama and burst modes the camera is not lacking in features. It is easy to use thanks to that navigation button and soft menu keys, side mounted zoom control and side mounted shutter button which when half depressed stirs the autofocus into action.
The camera is accompanied by an (orange) self portrait mirror and very bright double LED light. This works well as a torch, and can be useful in low light conditions, though as the two sample indoor shots show, neither shooting with or without the light is always entirely satisfactory.
This shot was taken without the built-in LEDs.
This shot was taken with the built-in LEDs.
The biggest sin as far as the camera is concerned is that it lacks a lens cover. A predecessor to this handset, the W700i has a very neat mechanical cover – you just move a slider on the back of the casing. No lens cover means the potential for scratches on the lens, and even though the lens is recessed a little to help avoid this I’m not pleased that SonyEricsson has abandoned its little mechanical cover.
I’m not sure how much I like the under-screen button design of the W810i either. The central navigation and music control button is, as already noted, rather small and this makes it difficult to hit accurately every time.
This is flanked by two near complete circles containing three buttons each: both have a softkey at their top while the left one has a back button at its bottom, the right a cancel button. A bite out of these at the far left and right edges of the casing provide on the left the ‘Walkman’ shortcut button which launches the music player and on the right a shortcuts button which you can populate with your favourite applications.
Additional software includes diary, Web browser, a couple of games, sound recorder and Bluetooth utility for remote controlling digital projectors or other devices, alarms, notes manager, calculator, timer and stopwatch.
Circumstances made it impossible for me to run a labs-style music rundown test, but I was able to use the W810i for music listening while on the road. With this experience I’d guess that three to four hours of straight music would be about its limit, which is poor when compared to a dedicated player.
The W810i is billed as a music fan’s handset and its 512MB MemoryStick Duo card and easy file copy facility is a good start. The dedicated music buttons help too, but its battery life and playback quality fall short of what dedicated players provide. In the end if you want music from a phone this handset is pretty much at the top of the tree in terms of features and capability, but it’s not going to come out on top in a direct comparison with a dedicated player.