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Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

Introduction:

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman! Yes, we now have another Android smartphone that carries the legendary brand name, the first one being the Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman. However, while the W8 was more or less a clone of the Sony Ericsson X8, the Live with Walkman is an entirely new device. It offers some decent specs as well, namely a 1GHz processor, 3.2-inch display, and both a rear and front-facing camera, which puts is right in the mid-range category of smartphones. But is it any good? Let us take it for a spin and find out…

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

The package contains:

  • Wired headset
  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • 2GB microSD card
  • Warranty and a getting started guide

Design:

First of all, kudos to Sony Ericsson for designing a smartphone that does not have the boring-slab-o-plastic appearance. Yes, plastic may be what it is made out of, yet still, we quite like the Live’s fresh looks and colorful accents, and we believe that the youngerly crowd will do so too. A very practical addition is the dedicated Walkman key, located on the device’s top side, which acts as a shortcut to the Walkman music player app.

Using the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman with a single hand is as easy as pie since it fits nicely in your palm - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Using the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman with a single hand is as easy as pie since it fits nicely in your palm - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Using the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman with a single hand is as easy as pie since it fits nicely in your palm - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

Using the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman with a single hand is as easy as pie since it fits nicely in your palm

 

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

You can compare the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Using the Sony Ericsson Live with a single hand is as easy as pie since it fits nicely in your palm and its dimensions allow for your thumb to effortlessly reach all of the display’s edges. Its relatively low weight of 115 grams or 4.06 ounces is definitely nothing to complain about. However, the smartphone is quite thick with a waistline of 14.2 millimeters or 0.56 inches.

The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman does not have the boring-slab-o-plastic appearance - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman does not have the boring-slab-o-plastic appearance - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman does not have the boring-slab-o-plastic appearance - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman does not have the boring-slab-o-plastic appearance

The handset’s design has more than a few imperfections, some of which less tolerable than others. To start, when using it with a single hand, the buttons on its top are somewhat difficult to operate, especially when there is a pair of headphones plugged in. Speaking of buttons,  the dedicated camera key is really tricky to use. Technically, it is a 2-stage shutter button, but the lack of feedback makes it very hard figuring out whether it has been pushed half-way, all the way down, or not pressed at all. Another flaw is that its front and back sides are prone to collecting finger smudge.

Charging port (left) - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Camera and volume keys (right) - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Power key and 3.5 mm jack (top) - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

Charging port (left)

Camera and volume keys (right)

Power key and 3.5 mm jack (top)

Back - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Camera - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Battery compartment - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

Back

Camera

Battery compartment

Display:

The front of the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman is occupied by a bland-looking 3.2-inch display with a resolution of 320 by 480 pixels. Punching these numbers in a PPI calculator gives us the figure of 180 pixels per inch, which is not bad, but nothing impressive either. Its color reproduction leans a bit towards the warm side, while its contrast levels and viewing angles are average at best. Another problem that we notice is that its pixel response time is rather high, meaning that moving objects leave a faint blurry trail behind them. At least the display’s brightness output is high enough to make using the smartphone on a sunny day comfortable.

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman.

Interface:

The single-core processor inside the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman is clocked at 1GHz and is backed up by 512 megabytes of RAM. It does its job really well and runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread without much trouble. Navigation is smooth and responsive, with only an occasional hiccup should you decide to use a live wallpaper.

Even though the smartphone offers only 3.2 inches of display real estate, its interface makes the most of that space. Once again, thumbs up to Sony Ericsson for that. What is neat about the interface is how each corner can hold up to four shortcuts inside of a pop-up bubble, which means that you can dedicate the five customizable home screens to the widgets that you need. Each home screen can fit about two to three widgets on average, depending on their size. Another cool trick that the interface can do is to give you an overview of all active widgets when you pinch out on any of the home screens. Not much of practical use, but fun nonetheless.

The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman runs the Timescape interface installed on top of Android 2.3 Gingerbread

Typing on the smartphone’s on-screen keyboard is quite a challenge when it is in portrait mode. The keys feel small even to the average-sized finger, and as a result, typos are quite common. Luckily, the keyboard’s landscape layout is much more convenient to use, and even if you happen to press the wrong key, the auto-correct feature takes care of mistakes on the fly.

On-screen keyboard - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
On-screen keyboard - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

On-screen keyboard

Internet browser:

The smartphone’s built-in web browser is great for casual browsing as it loads pages pretty fast and delivers a smooth experience overall. However, it gets a bit laggy when viewing heavier pages, especially if there is Adobe Flash content being rendered. Its interface offers nothing more than the essentials, such as pinch to zoom and text reflow, which both work without a hitch.

The smartphone's built-in web browser is great for casual browsing - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The smartphone's built-in web browser is great for casual browsing - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The smartphone's built-in web browser is great for casual browsing - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The smartphone's built-in web browser is great for casual browsing - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

The smartphone’s built-in web browser is great for casual browsing

Connectivity:

The Live’s list of connectivity features has anything that one would expect: 7.2Mbps 3G radio, Wi-Fi with support for DLNA, Bluetooth, A-GPS, and an FM Radio with RDS. Unfortunately, the GPS radio took forever and a half to pin-point our position from a cold start, yet afterwards, it required no more than 5 seconds to do that.

Camera:

The Live with Walkman has a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and a single LED flash. The interface is straightforward to use and offers a variety of shooting scenes. Helping you take the best shot are the face tracking and smile recognition features, and the panorama mode can shoot photos in both 2D and 3D. Of course, you need a 3D-capable screen to see the 3D shots, but that is a whole different story.

Camera interface - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Camera interface - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Camera interface - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Camera interface - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

Camera interface

Even though we took them on a gloomy day, our outdoor photos turned out quite nice: with plenty of details and neutral color reproduction. A great surprise were the snapper’s excellent responsiveness and the relatively short delay between shots. On the other hand, the camera has a tendency to underexpose photos should you be shooting against a bright background. When shooting indoors,  details are rather low even when the light is strong, and the LED flash fails to illuminate the scene entirely adding only a blob of white in its middle.

Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

Outdoor samples shot with the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman

Strong - Indoor samples - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Medium - Indoor samples - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Low light - Indoor samples - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
Darkness with flash - Indoor samples - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

Strong

Medium

Low light

Darkness with flash

Indoor samples

Videos do not look particularly great. Their maximum resolution may be 720p, yet they lack detail and suffer from the same underexposure problem as the photos occasionally do. When light is dim, the amount of digital noise is close to unbearable.

Multimedia:

Of course, the Walkman music player is what you get out of the box. It offers simplified, elegant graphics and the widget for your home screen is a welcome bonus. Besides all the basics, the player can do several handy tricks, namely to grab artist info from Wikipedia, to search Google for the lyrics of the track that is currently running, or to find a karaoke video on YouTube.

The Walkman music player - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Walkman music player - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review
The Walkman music player - Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

The Walkman music player

The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman comes with stereo speakers built-in, and we are happy to say that they produce loud and clear sound, without any audible distortion or crackling noises even at the highest volume level. If they don’t sound loud enough to you, the xLOUD feature can boost the volume quite a bit.

The Sony Ericsson MH410 wired headset is what you get along with the smartphone, and although we cannot say that it sounds spectacular, it will please your needs if you are not too picky of a listener. What you might consider replacing, however, is the 2 gigabyte microSD card, which is tiny by today’s standards, especially for a music-oriented device.

Besides audio, the Live with Walkman can play video files too, MPEG-4 files of resolution up to 720p, to be precise. However, watching them on the smartphone’s display is not much of a pleasure since the screen is on the small side and of poor overall quality. Support for DivX/Xvid file formats is missing.

Performance:

Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman Review

When it comes to in-call performance, the earpiece of the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman is sufficiently loud, but leaves some room for improvement. Muffled voices is what we hear through it, and a rattling noise becomes audible when its volume is turned up to the maximum. On the other hand, the microphone does an excellent job. It picks up clean and distinct voices, which are sufficiently loud on the other side of the line.

The 1200mAh battery that the Live comes with can provide a little over six and a half hours of 3G talk time or 350 hours of stand-by, which is nothing out of the ordinary. When it comes to audio playback, about 17 hours is how long the battery will last, and that is far from impressive as even dumb music phones can last longer than that.

Sadly, we experienced a number of random reboots while using the Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman. Over the course of two days, the device restarted a total of four times on its own even though it was not in use. . The problem persisted even after installing the most up-to-date software. A quick search online shows that a number of users are dealing with the exact same issue, so we hope that Sony Ericsson is going to address it without delay.

Conclusion:

The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman costs roughly Rs.13,500 contract-free, which is a steal considering that you get a decent mid-range Android smartphone, at least on paper. The device looks cool, and its 1GHz processor is snappy enough for the needs of the average user. However, you still get what you pay for, so you have to settle down with a sub-par display.

Perhaps, it would be a much better idea spending just bit more on a Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V, which comes with the same awesome interface as the Live, yet has a bigger and better display. The Sony Ericsson Xperia ray would also be a much better choice as it has a high-resolution screen and a better camera.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android version: 2.3.4
Baseband version: 8x55A-AAABQOAZM-203028D-58
Kernel version: 2.6.32.9-perf
Build number: 4.0.2.A.0.58

 

Pros

  • Its interface is optimized for its small display
  • Cheap Android smartphone with decent user experience
  • Responsive camera

Cons

  • Suffers from random reboots
  • Uncomfortable shutter key
  • Mediocre display
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