Walkman phone goes to the dark side

When we heard rumblings about a major new Walkman phone at CES, we got excited – could it have a hard drive, some bluetooth headphones, maybe even iTu

When we heard rumblings about a major new Walkman phone at CES, we got excited – could it have a hard drive, some bluetooth headphones, maybe even iTunes compatibility? The reality is a big fat nay to all of the above we're afraid – the W810i's new tricks are a modest new paint job and refined user interface.

Still, deflation aside, the tweaks polish an already formidable music phone – we prefer its PSP-matching lick of paint to the creme-faced W800i, and there's also now quad-band, which means it should connect with all worldwide networks.

The other improvement is that the music controls are now more prominently placed beneath the screen – new central spots for the dedicated Walkman and play buttons should make it more finger-friendly.

Aside from that, it's the same old travel buddy we've come to know and award 'hot buys' to – you get a generous 512MB Memory Stick (good for about 150 tracks), excellent 2MP camera and the best-in-class sound quality. The HPM-70 headphones are also commute friendly thanks to their noise-isolating form, and sport a microphone so you're not severed from the rest of its functionality.

The W810i will be shipping this quarter, and should be free with contracts once the network operators have been announced – we'll keep you posted. Until then, have a butchers at the pics on Sony Eric's site.

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