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Sony Ericsson revives the Walkman

Sony Ericsson shows off Walkman handsets and 2Mp camera phones

Sony Ericsson today filled in the detail on the range of mainly media-centric mobile phones it plans to launch this year.

Outlines of many handsets were provided at February’s 3GSM congress in France – most notable of which was the announcement of Walkman-branded music player phones. Until today, however, PC Advisor wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from them.

Sony Ericsson’s first Walkman phone – trading on the portable music players with which the name became synonymous in the 1980s – will be the W800. Described as “the first in a long line” of Walkman handsets, the W800 will come with a 512MB Sony Memory Stick. This, we were told, will be sufficient to store around 130 songs.

Walkman handsets will play MP3 and AAC music formats and are designed for ease of transfer and compatibility with PCs. Later in the year, as more music phones are added to the line up, customers will be able to hook up to the Play Now download service, sample and download songs. For now, though, the pitch is that “you can take your CD collection and move it into the phone”. Longlife batteries and a mode whereby the phone is switched off but the music player still functions should provide playback of up to 30 hours, the company claims.

In addition to its musical credentials, the W800 – of which Miles Flint, president of Sony Ericsson mobile communications said “we’re going to sell a lot” – has a built-in two megapixel camera with a 4x digital zoom.

However, pricing for the handset, due for a third quarter launch, is likely to be fairly high. Sony Ericsson hinted that it will cost more than the current £200 K700 handset but below the S700 currently listed on the company’s website at £376.

Mobile fans keener on the digital snapping side of things than on music may prefer the more camera-focused K750 – also a 2Mp model with 4x zoom.

The K750 has a large LCD screen on one side while the other looks for all the world like a camera, complete with a retractable lens cover. As well as being able to take pics containing sufficient detail for printing, the handset has a Memory Stick slot, Bluetooth connectivity, 3D Java games, an FM radio and a media player.

Accessories include the add-on Phone Flash MXE-60 which will boost lighting at up to 3m and provides native red-eye reduction.

Other announcements included the K300 entrylevel camera phone, available this month, 3G business phones, a quad-band GPRS card for portable PCs and HBH-608 and 662 Bluetooth headsets, one of which, bizarrely, features caller ID – very useful when it’s stuck on your head.

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