Review: Sony Ericsson W705 and PlayNow Plus

I got my hands on the Sony Ericsson W705 one day after it’s launch in Singapore. But I was busy enjoying the unlimited music (and busy other personal stuff), which explains why this blog entry was delayed until now.

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The W705 is like most sliding Sony Ericsson Walkman phone. Like most Sony Ericsson phones, it is using the standard proprietary user interface which everyone is familiar with by now. The buttons are pretty easy to press and responsive.

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The W705 comes with some motion sensor shortcuts for the music player. You can access them by pressing the Walkman button (located at the top of the phone) and shake/move/tilt the phone in certain direction to adjust volume, next/previous track and shuffle. It takes some practice to get the shortcuts right. But honestly, its not really practical to use those shortcut. Other passengers on the bus/train might think that you have mental illness or something. Besides, you can achieve most of these shortcuts with the volume control button without looking weird.

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The best part about the Sony Ericsson W705 is that it comes with PlayNow Plus, Sony Ericsson’s own unlimited music download (with DRM of cos). All W705 comes with free 12 months subscription to PlayNow Plus. There are currently more than 3.5 million songs available for download at PlayNow Plus, I counted. (Kidding kidding. So many how to count?) PlayNow Plus is currently only available on Sony Ericsson W705 although there are plans to make it available in future Sony Ericsson Walkman series phone.

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There are 2 ways that you can access PlayNow Plus, using your W705 or PC. There is no Mac support at the moment. Finding songs on PlayNow Plus is easy. There is also chart for the most downloaded songs and recommended songs/artist. There are some basic social networking features on PlayNow Plus. You can add friends and recommend songs and playlist for them to download. There is also a soulmate feature which matches you with other PlayNow Plus users who has similar music preference as you. Sad to say, the system couldn’t find any soulmate for me during my 1 1/2 week of reviewing. Maybe my music taste is a little outdated and unique.

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One thing to note is that when you download a song on your phone, it doesn’t automatically download on your PC (and vice versa). Instead, you can send a note to yourself from the PC to remind you to download the song in your PC. I find this weird because this will means that you’ll end up having to maintain 2 list of songs.

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For PC version, you are downloading the songs at 192 kpbs WMA Format. The songs’ bit rate on the mobile phone is rather interesting. You can choose between fast download or CD quality. For fast download, the format is eAAC+ at 24kbps. For CD quality, the format is AAC+ at 48kbps. Nope, there is no typo here. But before you make any conclusion, let me just say that the 48kbps format sound pretty decent on the W705. Somehow, the W705 made the 48kbps songs sound normal. The audiophile should be able to tell the difference though. The reason why Sony Ericsson chooses lower bit rate for mobile phone is because of the limited storage on the phone and to allow faster download. But its a pity they didn’t allow users the option to download at a higher bit rate.

After 12 months, you get to keep the top 200 songs that you listen to in MP3 format, 320 kbps and DRM FREE. Yes, you heard me correctly, DRM free.

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W705 and PlayNow Plus is currently exclusive to SingTel in Singapore. (They have a Passion Red version of W705 which looks very nice) All plans with W705 comes with free 200 mb bundled data. (Unlimited for first month) This might not be enough for those who download tons of songs every month. Luckily there is WIFI on this phone. Else you can always add extra data bundle to your phone plan.

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In short:
Unlimited songs on a Walkman phone

Likes:
Unlimited songs download for 1 year
Keep the top 200 songs DRM free after one year
Social networking features on PlayNow Plus

Dislikes:
No options to download song on higher bit rate
No Mac support for PlayNow Plus (Yet)

Many thanks to Audrey from Hill & Knowlton and Sony Ericsson for sending me the review unit one day after the official launch in Singapore. I hope you guys don’t get a shock when you see the amount of songs that I’ve downloaded on the review unit. :)

21 Responses to 'Review: Sony Ericsson W705 and PlayNow Plus'

  1. AlienTYC says:

    looking for a music phone w/ unlimited downloads and comparing this vs nokia…no decision made yet

    AlienTYC’s last blog post..Introduction and travel information on Ho Chi Minh City Saigon, Vietnam

  2. A starhub user says:

    This soo … I got a this phone with starhub and was hoping 2 use play now plus … But no … Only for singtel … This is unfair … Isn’t it a sony ericsson app why only 4 singtel… Sorry 4 typo using the phone 2 reply …

  3. dk says:

    Starhub user: Starhub also selling W705 now but without PlayNow Plus? Wow, I didn’t know that. How much is the phone?

    Well, its something exclusive to Singtel in Singapore currently. Not sure when the exclusivity will end.

  4. Curious says:

    Hey it’s me again. Ha ha. By the way… I thought Singtel gives 1000 free songs on the phone :X L0L Did you miss out on that part?

  5. dk says:

    Curious: Oh, thanks for reminding. Almost forgot that Singtel gives 1000 free songs when you purchase the W705.

    But with unlimited music download, it doesn’t matters much actually. (Except I think you get to keep them after 1 year if I not wrong)

  6. A starhub user says:

    Hey Anyway i found out the Sony Ericsson Service Center (Semei) Singapore Will be able to Install Play Now Plus to Any Phone but the servie is not up yet …. will be up soon went down there to check they siad to call before going to install the play now function.

  7. dk says:

    Starhub user: Wow, really? The last I heard was that PlayNow Plus won’t be available to the older models.

    But even with the PlayNow Plus installed, you will still need to subscribe to the service. And since this service is currently exclusive to Singtel, does that means only Singtel subscribers can upgrade or are they going to open it up for all 3 telco in Singapore?

    Will try to check out about this. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. dk says:

    Starhub user: I just checked with Sony Ericsson and their PR agency. There is no plans to allow older models to install PlayNow Plus.

    But there are plans to include PlayNow Plus in future models. (Although they can’t confirm which model yet)

  9. Hello says:

    Hello.. so u can download songs using 2 methods? GPRS or Wi-fi? GPRS free for 12 months? Does that also mean that the subsequent months (after first unlimited month) u can download more than 200mb of songs with wi-fi for free?? Thanks!

  10. dk says:

    Hello: GPRS will have to depend on your telco’s data bundle package. Currently for Singtel, the bundled data is 200mb. (Unlimited for 1st month)

    WIFI will not be counted into the 200mb GPRS. You can download as much as you like on WIFI. But you better double check to confirm that you are on WIFI before you go on a downloading spree. The data charges when you exceed the 200mb is quite expensive.

    Alternatively, you might want to consider adding an extra mobile on Broadband package to your phone.

  11. nawraj says:

    Its a gud i had evr seeeeeeen…m havin fun wid dis…itss realy coool…wen we luk at our personality…..

  12. Blinda says:

    Sony Ericsson W705 offers the WiFi but missed the GPS. The surface seems not well built and shaking though its surface is metal finished. The W705 features typical Sony Ericsson design but the numerical keypad has Samsung slider feeling which is elegant and fashionable. We hope innovative design on Walkman series. BTW, it seems to have larger screen than many other Sony Ericsson phones, which is a great progress.
    .-= Blinda´s last blog ..Nokia 6303 Classic Review – A Stylish Affordable Phone =-.

  13. rakesh says:

    hi want to buy this phone………..pls let me nw if any problems in this set

  14. dk says:

    rakesh: Are you buying with or without PlayNow Plus?

  15. cartes r4 says:

    I definitly would recommend this walkman over others of the same level. Probably the only thing better would be the w995, because no other would give you wifi. But I would recommend the cybershot series for pics.

  16. yanlin says:

    may i know if the songs we can get from play now plus are more towards chinese or english songs?

  17. Putra says:

    thanks for share this review

  18. mcky says:

    W705 isn’t got gold colour?
    as upward’s picture

  19. dk says:

    mcky: It’s actually silver colour. The “gold colour” is due to the lightings. :)

  20. Marcus says:

    so, how do i convert those files into DRM-free MP3 format, once my playnow plus subscription is over?

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