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Wednesday, 08 July 2009 10:49

Telstra brings Blue Tick 'œSony Ericsson W508' to Next G

Another new “Blue Tick” handset designed for better reception in rural and regional areas has been unveiled by Telstra, and it’s the musically capable Sony Ericsson W508 sporting Telstra’s custom designed “TelstraOne Experience”.

When you’ve got the iPhone delivering an incredibly simple user experience, it’s no surprise to see telcos trying to emulate that ease of use – but on a much larger range of handsets those available from Apple.

Telstra’s effort in this arena is somewhat unimaginatively called the “TelstraOne Experience”, but it does do a good job of bringing Telstra’s content and capabilities to the fore so you’ll be more inclined to actually use them – and Telstra wants this interface on more of the phones it sells.

Use of Telstra’s online products and services, from Mobile Foxtel live TV channels through to Telstra’s own “BigPond” content services which sell music and more, brings more revenue to Telstra beyond people simply making phone calls and sending text messages.

It’s also the reason telcos work so hard at customising the interface of different phones, although the TelstraOne Experience is designed to go to “the next level” as a “primary” interface instead of that the phone normally offers.

I remember Optus tried doing this when Nokia launched its N70 model, but Telstra has a lot more content to offer its mobile customers and looks to have done a much better job, while also taking advantage of phones that are more capable than the N70 at the time of its launch.

One of the first phones to get the TelstraOne Experience was the Motorola A3100 running Windows Mobile 6.1, a successor phone to the A1000 Symbian UIQ phone from a few years ago.

The TelstraOne Experience works quite nicely on this model as a shell over the standard Windows Mobile 6.1 environment, giving you very easy access to all of Telstra’s services, which is exactly what Telstra wants.

The A3100 can, like the iPhone, download apps, help you organise your life, offer you games to play, let you read emails and more, and will definitely appeal to Windows Mobile fans who want access to the Next G network at a cheaper price than HTC Touch devices.

The iPhone still offers the smoothest (and now with OS 3.0) arguably the most complete smartphone experience – with the exception (for now) of true background multitasking.

But the A3100 and the iPhone aren’t what is being announced, but the Sony Ericsson W508 instead. More details on page 2!

The Sony Ericsson W508 is one of SE’s “Walkman” range of phones, a polished range that offers all of the usual “smartphone” features with Sony’s souped up music playing software.

So while it appeals to those wanting a fashionable phone that offers a great music playback experience, it also appeals to those wanting a fashionable phone that better works in rural and regional areas.

As the W508 is designated as a Blue Tick phone, it adds to the number of Blue Tick phones available and gives greater choice to consumers who may have no choice but to use Telstra Next G due to its greater coverage and access to 3.5G/HSDPA speeds than competing telcos.

Telstra Country Wide Group Managing Director, Brett Riley, said that the Sony Ericsson W508 is not only in stores now, but “combines strong coverage performance and the latest in Walkman music playing technology and flip phone looks.
“The W508 comes with Telstra’s Blue Tick, meaning it is recommended for handheld use in rural and regional coverage areas.
“It features an in-built Sony Walkman allowing customers to take a high-quality music player everywhere they take their mobile. Also included is 1 GB of internal memory for storing all your favorite songs – plus a stereo headset for great-sounding music playback. With these features, customers, particularly in regional and rural areas, can leave their stand-alone MP3 player at home and take just one device out with them,” continued the man that clearly must live his own version of the life of Riley.
Without getting riled up, Riley really wasn’t finished yet, because he added that: “We are sure that customers will also enjoy accessing mobile content on the W508. A vivid 2.2-inch screen, and a connection to the network that works better in more places - Telstra’s Next G network, means customers can access content like BigPond TV and Mobile FOXTEL from Telstra.”
Telstra Product Management Executive Director, Ross Fielding, said the Sony Ericsson W508 offers superior mobile internet browsing and can be customised thanks to its TelstraOne Experience user interface, and noted that:
“With a connection to Telstra’s Next G network the mobile data experience on this [up to] 7.2Mbps downlink speed rated phone is fast. Users can pull down large files, stream content with less buffering, surf the web seamlessly and access mobile internet content like mobile Facebook faster and in more places.
“The W508 also features the TelstraOne Experience user interface, which lets customers set up one-click access to the mobile phone features, applications and services they use most.

“With TelstraOne Experience customers can select from more than 100 application and webpage shortcut icons –  like links to Facebook, MySpace and mobile web accounts like Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo!7 Mail – and place them on the phone’s MyPlace menu where they’re easy to access,” concluded Fielding.
Other handset features Telstra deems noteworthy are as follows:

- 3.2 megapixel camera
- Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity (including for Bluetooth stereo headsets)
- Video calling
TrackID (which lets users record a few seconds of music and returns the song name, artist and album to your phone within seconds)
- Interchangeable colour covers (the handset comes bundled with Architectural Purple and Metal Grey colour covers) which allow users to transform the look of the handset.
No “outright” price is listed but it is available on an AUD $30 plan over 24 months.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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