Sony Ericsson w880i

Sony Ericsson clearly feels it's on to a winner with its music-focused Walkman range, judging by the bewilderingly varied range of handsets sporting the wobbly 'W' recently.

The latest, the w880i, is a candybar design and while it doesn't add much in the way of functionality, it is slim, very slim, at just 9.4mm thick and light too, at just 71g. Looking at this little beauty makes you believe that the genuinely credit card-sized phone can't be far away.

The w880i comes in two colours – black or silver, with Walkman orange on the back of the stainless steel casing. It looks and feels terrific, which was obviously the intention since it's got the 'wow' factor in spades.

Of course, it's also got lots of good stuff for music fans, including a 1GB Memory Stick Micro card (plus 16MB onboard memory) with room for up to 900 tracks and a better-than-good music player – nicely laid out and including the Shazam-like Track ID feature (which enables you to identify a song off the radio), Bluetooth stereo and good sound through the supplied headphones.

SE claims up to 18hrs music playback too, but strangely, there's no FM radio as on other Walkmans – being thin always comes at a price.

Gamers on the other hand, come a bit further down on the manufacturer's priority list. The keypad is an odd one, with tiny metal slivers for buttons that project out and feel awkward to the touch. The '5' button has a tiny nodule on it, but our gnarled and weatherbeaten fingertips were hardly able to detect it.

We got used to the buttons in the end, although we found we had to adapt our usual playing posture, so that we pressed the buttons with the ends of our thumbnails rather our fingertips.

It can be done, but it's not ideal, especially in action games requiring dextrous digits. Prince Of Persia, for instance, proved distressing in its early stages as we missed button after button, though practice helped.

The 262,000-colour TFT screen is a high point, however, strong on detail and clarity and fast-moving too, both with video and gameplay. It's slightly smaller than many of today's phones at 27x37mm, but it's sharp enough that there'll be no need to resort to the magnifying glass. We had no problems with the processor either – games loaded quickly and rendered well with no exceptions.

The only game it comes supplied with is Quadrapop – a perfectly fine Tetris clone, but already overfamiliar to Sony Ericsson users.

If you've seen any of the other recent Walkmans, you'll know about the bundled MusicMate application, which combines a metronome, tuner and guitar chord dictionary – a genuinely useful tool for musicians, but not much use to anyone else.

There's also 2 megapixel camera with 2.5x digital zoom and one-button access to Google's eblogger service, plus a full HTML browser with RSS and 3G internet connection.

The w880i is a great looking phone and a definite eyeball magnet that works pretty well as a games handset, though it's let down a bit by that undeniably stylish but not very practical keypad.

Sony Ericsson w880i

Can a phone be too thin? Maybe not, but it can be just a tad too fiddly for gaming