The FM radio works well by using the earphones cable as an antenna though it's not an RDS device. The E lacks the capacity to set up on-board playlists nor does it have any sort of recording facility. But ID tag and album art recognition was faultless, and you can also view content by folder should anything go amiss.
Sony claims a battery life of up to 45 hours for audio and rather surprisingly this proved to be about right. We got 42 hours from a full charge, which deserves a polite round of applause - as does out ability to stay awake late listening to music.
So how does the E stack up against the competition? As the cheapest widely available Nano is now a good £40 more - the extra 4GB of memory notwithstanding – the E's obvious nemeses are the Sansa Fuze and Samsung T10. Both can be found for a similar price, though the former comes with Micro SDHC memory expansion and a record facility, while the latter now comes with Bluetooth, according to Samsung's website. We think the Sony is a nicer looking device than the Samsung, but neither is quite a slick as the Fuze.
The Fuze and the Samsung have a slight - and we mean slight - edge when it comes to sound quality too. On the other hand, the menu system and navigation on the Sony is the fastest and the most straightforward of the three. At the end of the day, you pays your money and you makes your choice.
Another solid MP3 player from a company you should really expect nothing less from. The NWK-E436F - come on, Sony, more slip-off-the-tongue names in future - has a nice form-factor, is eminently usable, pumps out a more than adequate sound and has a very good battery life. It is, however, just a bit lacking in what some marketing nerks like to call 'surprise and delight'.
Sony Walkman NWZ-E436F
HDD based mobile players use the drive very little unless you are changing tracks manually and often (but then its in the hand and not being 'banged about'). The speed of HDD reads means you can read a lot of music and play it from cache. Thus the drive is bursting data and spinning down - making hdd work in handheld devices was a done deal before the ipod, the reason you don't see many anymore is due to solid state price decreases.
If people cared about music and stopped compressing the hell out of everything, hdd players would still be around.
I've got an 8GB Sony Walkman NWZ-A8178 and the build quality is fantastic, it feels completely solid and is finished in a metal case. The sound quality that I get from the earphones that I got with it is brilliant, plenty of bass and with clear high pitches. It's the easiest to use mp3 player that I've ever had, the menu system is so fast and logical, no stupid messing about with a stupid scrolly wheel thing like an iPod or whatever. It's so easy to use that I can use it whilst it's still in my pocket, I don't even need to see the screen. Oh and the screen is brilliant clear and bright, even outdoors. My last mp3 player (a Philips one) had such a bad screen that with any sunlight you couldn't see a thing on the screen. And best of all - it was only £72.
I love Atrac too (it is a superior codec), but get with the times mate. Sony HAS to do this to get back in the game and I am glad they did. SQ wise they still kick Apple's ass even when using lossy MP3.