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Sony Ericsson W880i

>> Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sony Ericsson was relatively late to the thin phone craze, but the W880i certainly would qualify as a svelte model. At 4 inches by 1.8 inches by 0.4 inch, it's extremely slim and sleek, but it fits comfortably in the hand. It's also light (2.5 ounces) but has a solid and sturdy feel. The phone comes in two color schemes a black and orange version and a silver and black model. We examined the former in this review, but our observations apply to either handset.

The W880i's display measures 1.75 inches and supports 262,144 colors. It's bright and vivid and displays everything form text to graphics well. You can only change the brightness, so users with visual impairments may want to test the phone first. The dialing text is large, but the messaging text is quite small. The menu system is uncomplicated and free of heavy graphics and animation.

Unfortunately, that's where the W880i's design good points end. We'll start with the navigation controls first. The problem isn't that you don't get enough keys rather it's that those keys are just too small.

The orange and silver navigation toggle and central OK button are the least offending of the bunch. Both are raised above the surface of the phone, and the toggle's top and bottom edges have tactile ridges.

Yet we'd still prefer something bigger. The toggle can be set as a shortcut to four user defined functions, and it doubles as a control for the Walkman player.

Surrounding the toggle are two soft keys, back and clear buttons, a Web browser shortcut, and an Activity control that opens a handy shortcuts menu. Like the toggle, these keys are tactile, but they're just too small.

More than once we pressed two keys accidentally. Per usual Sony Ericsson practice, there are no dedicated Talk and End buttons (the soft keys perform those functions), but the placement of the power control baffled us. Rather than featuring a dedicated power button (another Sony Ericsson hallmark), the W880i combines it with the clear button.

Though that's not the most ideal combination, we were more concerned with finding the control in the first place. The power icon is so small and so hard to see that we had to consult the manual to turn the phone on. And even when powering the phone the second time we had to look closely to find it again.

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