Though we realize the camera is a VGA, picture quality was rather disappointing. Shots were blurry and grainy and colors washed out. Likewise, video quality was unremarkable. Still, the W300i does offer a few creative applications for the amateur photographer. With Photo DJ, you can add one of six fun frames; rotate the shot's orientation; and use various image effects such as brightness, contrast, tint control, and photo marking. There's also a Video DJ, and if that doesn't satisfy, more picture-, video-, and multimedia-editing options are on the software CD, including QuickTime, Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition, and a multimedia message composer. Moving photos and videos off the phone is painless. You can send them in a multimedia message, transfer them via Bluetooth, or the infrared port, or use the included USB cable and software.
You can personalize the W300i with a variety of themes, wallpaper, and screensavers. As always, you can purchase more options and ring tones from Sony Ericsson via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Alternatively, the phone comes with a Music DJ application for composing your own ring tones and a quirky application called Music Match that plays guitar chords and piano notes. Though it was fun, it wasn't terribly useful. Gamers can enjoy three Java (J2ME) titles, Neopets, QuadraPop, and PuzzleSlider, with additional titles available for purchase.
We tested the quad-band, dual-mode (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; EDGE) Sony Ericsson W300i world phone in San Francisco using Cingular's service. Call quality was quite good with remarkable clarity and volume. We never had trouble getting a signal and rarely encountered static or interference. Callers reported the same conditions, and they could understand us under most conditions. Speakerphone quality was slightly worse--voices sounded hollow, but it was decent overall. We connected to the Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset and encountered admirable call quality as well. The EDGE connection was sufficiently speedy for transferring small files.
Using the included Disc2Phone software and USB cable, which also charges the phone, we tried loading music onto our W300i. Transfer time was relatively slow at 30 seconds for a 5MG song, so you'll have to be patient for a large transfer. On the whole, however, the software is easy to install and exhibited few of the quirks we found on previous models. What's more, the phone didn't turn off automatically when we disconnected the USB cable. Music quality was on a par with that of other Walkman phones: clear and crisp, though one transferred song had some very minor hiccups. The W300i won't replace a stand-alone MP3 player, but it does the job admirably for short stints.
Our one real complaint was that the phone had a tendency to freeze during normal operation, such as when we were scrolling through a menu or when we were using the USB connection. On one occasion, we had to reboot, but more often, the phone unfroze after a couple seconds.
The W300i has a rated talk time of 9 hours and a promised standby time of 16.5 days. Our talk-time test result came in a bit short at 8 hours, but that's still respectable. According to FCC radiation tests, the Sony Ericsson W300i has a digital SAR rating of 1.42 watts per kilogram.
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