I just won't shut up about Sony Ericsson's new phones, so friends at Dynamism sent me a W880, their flagship Walkman. The best thing? Not the slim case, but the extremely useful TrackID system. Basically, you can play this phone a song, and it'll take a sample by microphone, compare it to digital signatures on Gracenote, and come back with track, artist, and album info that you can save for later or send to friends. This phone can name that tune. And, it works well.
I started off by throwing it some softballs. Aerosmith and Van Halen. Easy. Then a remix of Stevie Wonder's To Know You is to Love You by Greyboy. Interestingly, TrackID nailed it. It got better, recognizing my little brother's indie rock band, New London Fire. And it even recognized Danger Mouse's Grey Album Beatles/ Jay-Z mashup.
But I'm a Sony Ericsson fan, and now while I'm listening to some song I like at a bar, or while I'm driving, I can ID the song and text myself the song name for downloading later. Neat. And useful for trivia.
I believe you can do this on a PC with music brainz, and some other phones from LG have this feature, and Windows Mobile phones have access to similar tech, too. But a PC doesn't fit in your pocket, and LG phones...well, after testing the Chocolate and the Shine, I just have to say I'd rather carry a Sony Ericsson.
Was it perfect? No. People talking over the music confused the system, obviously. But it only takes a minute, and it's free.
It's nice to see innovation like this coming. It's part of the trend I'm seeing of Consumer Electronics companies making nicer phones, while the old dedicated phone companies like Motorola and Nokia are having trouble keeping handset software up to date, and hardware small.