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Sony Walkman S-series MP3 player

One of the finest sounding MP3 players available

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There's no real difference with the basic specification, either. On nth the S and the E you get an FM radio without RDS but with 30 station pre-sets. You get support for MP3, and DRM-free WMA and AAC audio files, WMV9 and H.264 video files, and JPEG image files. As with the E, the S lacks a voice recorder or an on-the-go playlist creation facility. Nor do you get anything in the way of memory expansion.

All in all, it's a classic example of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', but we'd still like to see Sony go the whole nine yards and add Flac and Ogg support, and stop asking for a further £6 to enable the video transcoder function of the bundled Media Manager software.

Sony NWZ-639F 16GB Walkman MP3 player

Just about the finest-sounding MP3 player available

So, assuming the extra memory capacity is not your sole reason for buying an S rather than an E – the latter being only available in 4GB form - is the S class worth the extra folding? In short, yes.

Firstly, Sony bundles the S class players with an excellent set of earphones – MDR-EX082's by the looks of them. Supremely comfortable and equally competent on the musical front, they are the only earphones 99 per cent of people will ever want or need. Secondly, we think the S is now just about the finest sounding MP3 player available to buy.

Without getting bogged down in all the sound modification options – you get an equalizer with four pre-sets and two user-definable settings, along with a VTP Surround setting with six sub-settings: DSEE (Sound Enhancer), Clear Stereo and Dynamic Normalizer – the S is supremely musically competent no matter what you ask it to play. It goes all the way up to 11 in the volume stakes too.

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