Sony Ericsson W850i

The latest in Sony Ericsson's Walkman music phones (Walkman leads to the 'W' bit in the name by the way, but we're not sure what the 'i' stands for) also happens to be Sony Ericsson's first slider – well, everyone else is doing them, so why shouldn't it?

The slider style gives you the option of using the keypad beneath the very nice 262,000-colour TFT screen, or you can slide out the numeric keypad – not the most natural feel, but you'll need it for some game options.

If you go for the closed option, you'll need a brickie's thumbs for the keypad, which is robust to say the least. There's no joystick, but there are concealed buttons underneath a fairly stiff plastic membrane.

It's not particularly difficult to press, but it does take a bit of effort – which can feel wearing after a while. Experienced thumb aerobicists should have no problem with that aspect but the stiffness does mean that you sacrifice a degree of control – there are plenty of much more sensitive operators than this.

At least the buttons are reasonably well spaced out though, so there's little danger of moving up when you meant to go right and so on. Also, many games give you the option of dual control panels, using the four-way thumbpad for some controls, and the numeric keypad for others.

The large orange bar above the nav pad give you quick access to the Walkman music player, but it can be difficult to avoid during gameplay – still, it means you can get quick access to a suitable soundtrack for whatever game you're playing – Colonel Bogey for Call Of Duty perhaps, or Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells for Darkest Fear (Tubular Bells is the spooky piano music from The Exorcist – but you knew that, didn't you?)

It's not a smart phone, so there's no Symbian or Windows platform to tap into, but you can at least draw on the full panoply of Java games in both 2D and 3D. It comes with Tetris derivative QuadraPop, 3D racer Juiced and platform jumping spree Treasure Towers – all perfectly acceptable but no crack substitutes.

Incidentally, like with Sony Ericsson's previous 550i handset, you get the option to play in landscape mode on some games, though there isn't an option on the phone to force the switch if it's not included in the game's menu.

The W850i's music player is of course what the handset is themed around, and it's very good, with the choice of drag and drop or syncing from your PC, plus handy features like TrackID, Sony Ericsson's Shaazam-like service, which lets you record a snatch of song from the built-in FM radio or other source, then identifies what it is and who it's by through the phone's 3G internet connection. Very snazzy, and cheaper than Shazam since you only pay for data charges, not a phone call.

The camera's good too – two megapixel with a real flash, basic editing functions and a FaceWarp app for deforming pics of your mates.

Incidentally, though it's not a game as such, the W850i comes with a couple of other handy Java apps for musicians. Music Mate offers animated illustrations of the main guitar chord positions (major, minor, plus major and minor sevenths), presumably in case you forget in the middle of a gig. It also offers a metronome for playing along in time to, and an electronic tuning fork.

This is certainly not a perfect phone for gamers, with that sluggish keypad, but the screen's good, and it comes with a 1GB Memory Stick PRO Duo, so there's plenty of room for games, tunes and vids.

A very decent 3G phone in other words, that's great for playing music, but less good for playing games thanks to its sluggish thumbpad.

Sony Ericsson W850i

With the balance weighted more towards music than gaming, the W850i is perfect for music lovers who fancy a fiddle, less so for gamers who like a good tune