Ease of Use
This writer confesses to have read the manual before using the unit but – truth be told – I really didn’t have to. I didn’t even bother using the software disc that came with it. Loading songs couldn’t be easier as the phone appears on your desktop as a Removable Drive the moment you plug it in with the included USB cable and choose File Transfer on the phone’s screen (this allows for the ol’ drag and drop method). To add music I opened the ubiquitous Windows Media Player and synced up enough metal for 2/3 days in just a few minutes.
I freakin’ love this phone! (and here’s why) Not only is the camera an upgrade on my last Sony Ericsson (the well-loved Fido freebie w300i) but the company also went out of their way to add some much needed ‘bling’ to the proceedings. First there’s the phone layout – the multi-function interface is found on the side of the phone and while this may mean that owners will spend a few more bones on a new case for it the design itself is much more stable than the traditional position with the interface on the bottom. It’s a flip phone and there’s a certain amount of care one would need to exercise in order to ensure it’s longevity (meaning that wrenching it open and snapping it shut is a really bad idea – don’t do it!). That said – the company went the extra yard here and took a few steps to ensure that you really don’t have to open and close the phone at all if you don’t want to. Between the handsfree (which I love) and the Play/Fast Forward/Rewind found on the outside of the phone (sweet) there’s pretty much no need to open it once your tunes are picked and locked in. But wait – there’s more! In addition to the very cool aforementioned buttons and handsfree there’s also a HOLD switch on the back of the phone which locks the topside buttons so ya don’t accidentally skip forward to the next song while handling the phone if ya don’t wanna (bravo!). And finally there’s the Gesture Control. This one’s kinda cool and kinda useless at the same time. What Gesture Control is – in a nutshell – is the ability to silence the phone’s ring by simply waving your hand over the phone surface. Again – it’s sorta useless but if you use the phone’s alarm clock (like yours truly) it is a really neat way to select Snooze (much cooler and easier than actually grabbing the phone, opening it and selecting the right button). But wait – there’s even more! Now this is truly the most ‘bling’ feature on the phone and it’s kinda pointless but I really love it. Instead of having a screen on the inside and another screen on the outside of the phone the w380a is designed so that when you need to see a display on the outside (like when you’ve just closed it or you touch one of the buttons) the letters glow through the phone’s surface in an opaque haze. Then – when you’d normally see the screen go blank in a screen saver manner – the lettering just disappears. Again – I can’t say enough about just how cool this really is and kudos to Sony Ericsson for including it in the phone’s design.
The older w300i had a great Walkman inside – but that was 2 years ago. As could be expected the company has made some slight improvements along the way in this regard as well. Accessing the Walkman feature is as easy as pressing the top portion of the phone’s selection wheel (just look for the iconic Walkman symbol) or you can access it through the menu section. This phone comes equipped with a 512MB card and between you and me that’s more than enough songs for one outing but those who have gotten used to carrying at least 1GB worth of tunage can upgrade to a 2GB card (also nice). The included earbud headphones have a nice tight bass response that sounded fine without any tweaking but really came to life once I added a little low-end in the EQ (I said a little – stay away from the MEGA BASS setting – it’s too much). There’s a Queue feature that allows you to create playlists on the fly without interrupting the song you’re already playing. The aforementioned Play/Fast Forward/Rewind buttons on the top end of the phone are super sensitive so remember that ‘Hold’ switch on the back of the phone (you’ll be needing it!). Also worth mentioning are the volume controls on the side of the phone. Pressing and holding one or the other allows you to Fast Forward or Rewind (or change the radio station presets). And let’s not forget the radio! You’ll need to attach the handsfree to use this feature as it functions as an antenna as well.
The Bottom Line
This w380a is a fantastic little piece of gear. Sure the camera could be better (at 1.3MP it’s not really worth including in the review let alone using) but if you’re really into your tunes and not much else this is definitely one to consider.