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Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman Cell Phone Review

Review: W580i is revolutionary, but does injustice to self with lack of branding

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 2.5 Star Rating (10 Reviews)

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The Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman fitness phone from AT&T in white

The Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman fitness phone from AT&T in white

Image © Sony Ericsson
Cell phones today face cutthroat competition from a sea of handset makers. The healthy rivalry is ultimately a boon to the consumer because it forces device makers to evolve and innovate. This Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman cell phone review highlights one innovation in particular.

While phone makers often attempt to sell you on trivial trinkets and non-practical doodads in order to differentiate themselves, every now and then a phone delivers a legitimately novel and avant-garde “killer app”.
While features like a basic camera, simple video and voice recording, photo sharing and ringtones now come standard in most phones today, what about fitness?

Now that is currently a relatively untapped market for cell phones that has typically been satisfied through other devices or traditional gyms.

So what about embedding fitness functionality in your mobile phone? Now that’s novel – and the Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman has done it with relative ease and effectiveness.

Since I was specifically interested in reviewing this phone for its fitness applications, I’m focusing my analysis on that aspect of the W580i. The rest of what you’d expect in a modern-day phone is there as well (and it comes in black, white, pink and jungle green).

Identity Crisis

Before you tear into its fitness functionality, you may (or may not) notice one glaring element of criticism: Where’s the fitness? The relatively revolutionary technology embedded in this phone is unfortunately somewhat buried. If I were Sony Ericsson, I’d brand the W580i as a “fitness phone” on the box, on the manual and most certainly on the phone itself. Instead, it’s downplayed.

If you don’t buy the phone for this specific purpose, you may instead just happen to find it one day while scrolling through the phone’s menus or perusing the manual (which many people don’t do). If you weren’t sold on the feature in the first place, it may merely come to you a surprise perk later on. This is a mistake.
The Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman fitness phone from AT&T in black

The Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman fitness phone from AT&T in black

Image © Sony Ericsson
Not having the feature front and center is an injustice to itself. That said, here’s how to find it in case you didn’t know about it or couldn’t locate it. Click “Menu” from the main screen on the W580i, scroll down to “Organizer” (it’s the icon with the calculator and the calendar in the middle of the bottom row) and click “Fitness”.

Yes, you have now discovered the W580i’s interesting and practical fitness feature. Before you get started, though, make sure to introduce yourself to the W580i now that the W580i has introduced itself to you. In “Fitness” mode, scroll down to “Settings” and then “Personal Data”.

Enter your height, weight, year of birth and gender to improve its calorie-counting accuracy so the W580i can specifically customize itself to you. I don’t mind this one-time requirement and it’s simple to do. On the other hand, you’ll notice “Advanced Calibration” on that screen as well.

I’ve found that important for its distance calibration, but on the flip side, it’s somewhat cumbersome to request of a first-time user. The W580i will ask you to walk a “known distance” and then record how many yards you traveled. Because using yards instead of feet may be a bit boggling for U.S. customers, you’ll need to remember that there are three feet in a yard.

In addition to remembering some grade-school information, you’ll also need to locate a yardstick at home or some other measuring tool so you can assess how many yards you travel in the W580i’s requested sample walk. Not everyone has a yardstick at home, but hopefully you’ll clear this start-up hurdle.
Monitor Your Walking

Once you do, things get interesting. First, you’ll notice the W580i has a built-in pedometer. The “steps” feature counts your walking steps based on movement. If you just walk and hold the W580i still in your hand (which I initially did as a test), the steps might not register correctly. In fact, I initially thought the feature didn’t work.

If you correctly slip the W580i in your pocket and walk with a natural sway in your hips, though, it’ll register relatively accurately. So long as you have “step counting” activated, even if you forget about your W580i while it’s in your pocket or bag it will do its job to track your steps.

The walking feature measures your distance (again unfortunately in yards), the number of steps and how many calories you’ve burnt. You’re able to change certain unit settings – i.e. from kCalories to kJoules or miles to kilometers – but not yards to feet. This should be an option.

Track Your Running

Along with monitoring your walking, the running function is also based on the phone registering your movement. When you begin running, there’s a bit of a delay for the data measuring to kick in. When it does, it does with relative accuracy. This, of course, is all based on the human accuracy of your “advanced calibration” when you manually measured and input yards based on a known walking distance.
The Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman fitness phone from AT&T in black

The Sony Ericsson W580i Walkman fitness phone from AT&T in black

Image © Sony Ericsson
Results are recorded and shown to you in an archival fashion so you can see today’s walking data, information on all your running sessions and information on previous days and weeks. The running feature monitors your distance traveled, time traveled, average speed, maximum speed and calories burnt.

But the statistics monitoring becomes really impressive in the “Advanced” section of your “Results” page. This is a Java-powered application that requires a memory stick and connects to a mobile Web site.

Within this more graphical display, you’re hit with additional training data, eye-friendly graphs on up to 20 sessions, motivational medals to reward you for reaching your goals and fitness trivia.

Overall a Revolutionary Fitness Phone

From an overall fitness perspective, the W580i is genuinely innovative, practical and ultimately useful in support of a healthy lifestyle.

But the W580i could do more. The W580i doesn’t measure your heart rate. Heart rate is a critical element for many people who work out and closely monitor their results against their goals. This functionality could have been added with a chest strap that wirelessly communications with the W580i. Take note, Sony Ericsson. This is a missed opportunity. Continue reading on page two...

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User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
I'm in love with this phone :), Member alisonrenea143

My very first cell phone was a Sony Ericsson W580i; I got it on Christmas '08 when i was 12 years old, in 7th grade. I am a hardcore texter, and have been from the moment i unwrapped my phone, and I would like to say that although it doesn't have a fancy qwerty keyboard or anything, I have had the eastest time texting on it, and whenever i use other people's phones who have touch screen or qwerty keyboards, I sometimes find it harder than using mine. It's extrememly user friendly and easy to navigate, which is a major plus. I never really looked at the manual, I just played with it for a few minutes, and within a few weeks of having my phone, I knew how to do absolutely everything int he world with it. It does have email and internet, but I have never used them because my phone plan does not include this service, so I couldn't tell you about them. But, one thing I can say, is that this phone has exceptional multimedia. It doesn't take ""phone-quality"" pictures, it takes very clear, pretty pictures, along with a great video camera, which has been awesome to capture all of my memories through these past few years. It has a very large memory which has held over 200 pictures and videos, along with hundreds of songs for me. It has great sound quality, and a sound recorder that makes it easy to put virtually any song onto your phone; along with a built in Walkman MP3 player, which you can sync songs to from your computer. It has a pedometer, calculator, calander, and a reliable alarm clock that has been waking me up every weekday morning for 2 years, along with the ability to leave yourself notes, and to set tasks with reminders, so you never forget anything important. It also has a password holder, and a lot of other great features that aren't commonly found for free on many phones these days. It has a good battery life, it has always performed well for me. You only have to charge it for about 2 hours, and then it is completely charged, which is good if you don't have much time; because I have recently discovered that if you text all day and then come home from school, you can charge it for about 30 minutes and then go to a football game, and it will last long enough for your ride to call you at the end. :) On an average summer day, I would charge it all night, and then in the morning I would start texting at about 10 AM, and my phone would last me until about 8-10 with absolute nonstop use. I generally just charge it every night, and it will usually last me from the moment I wake up until right before I go to bed, which is basically perfect. I have never had any issues with the phone being ""bulky,"" becaus it is not. It's not too small, either; it's the perfect size, and you can trust me, because I am extremely picky with phones, and this is the only one that has ever truly pleased me. For a few months, I switched phones, to an LG Neon, with a slide out kwerty keyboard and a few touch screen options, and I must say, I HATED it. I have used many other people's phones, just to text my parents after mine died, or things of that sort, and even fancy smartphones have never seemed as good to me as my Ericsson. In fact, I'm a freshman now, and my contact is nearly up, and all the phones that I have looked at have seemed extremely mediocre to me, which is what led me back to the Ericsson website; I want another Ericsson phone because mine has been extraordinary. Now, I must add, that this phone is EXTREMELY durable. I am one of those people who KILLS electronics, I drop it SO MUCH. In the summer, I take it down to the beach with me to text while I tan, and get sand inside, yet it still slides perfectly. I set it on the sink next to me while I wash my face, and leave it sitting on top of the toilet while I'm in shower, which is the equivalent of taking it into a sauna. It gets LOADS of ""water damage,"" yet nothing has ever gone wrong with the screen. This past summer, I was sitting over a storm drain, right above the grate. I dropped my phone in, and it crashed about 8 feet down at the bottom. It was at a parade, and after the parade was over, I got an awesome fireman to help me get it put, and it is still functioning perfectly, 5 months later. I know people who have dropped their phones maybe twice, or three times, and are expieriencing major difficulties with other types of phones, yet I have dropped my Ericsson literally about 100 times, and it has not had any difficulties. I must add that I love the was the texting works, and it has never been a lagging type of phone, and it has an amazing photo editing software that comes on it, called PhotoDJ, and a video editting software also. Plus, if you're bored, you can compose your own music, haha. My Ericsson is absolutely the most amazing phone EVER, and now that I have to get a new phone, I'm legitimately sad, because I'm pretty sure that this is the best phone I will ever have. I know other people who have gotten new phones, and say that they miss their Ericssons. I reccomend this phone to anyone and everyone, because it has the organization for a businessman, along with the amazing feautured for any teenager, and the simplicity for someone's grandmother. I think that this phone is absolutely perfect, and if you ever have the oppurtunity, you should DEFINITELY try it out. :)

3 out of 3 people found this helpful.

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