Sony Walkman S-series MP3 player
One of the finest sounding MP3 players available
Normally at this point we would yell “gimmick!” and roundly rip the idea to shreds, but SenseMe is actually a pretty good idea well executed. Even though sometimes the selections were a little obscure – we aren't sure we'd class any of the tracks from Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen as 'electronic' – at no point did it make a choice that was hopelessly wrong, or that we found musically jarring. As an evolution of the random shuffle function, it's not at all bad, and we quickly got used to having it and using it.
It's not that fast, though. The player took an average of six minutes to sort through 100 songs, so letting it sort through 16GB of content could take a while. Luckily, you only have to do it once, thereafter it just sorts new content as the material is added to the library, though it has to be told to do this manually.
Sony quotes the S series' battery life as being five hours shorter than that of the E - 40 hours against 45. We managed to eke out just over 37 hours of continuous 160Kb/s and 192Kb/s MP3 play before everything went dark, which struck us as reasonable enough.
Available in a range of colours
The 8GB S638F has an RRP of £99, while the 16GB will leave you £129 lighter of pocket. That's more expensive than the Samsung Q1, but then it's a better device and still cheaper than the equivalent iPod Nano though with that you get Cover Flow album browsing and gapless playback.
One final point. Look at the S639F's user guide and you'll notice it's the same document that comes with the S638F and something called the S636F - a 4GB S, we presume. Makes you wonder why they bothered releasing the E436F when the S636F would surely be about the same price - £70 - and would be a wholly superior product. Does the Sony Walkman line-up and price structure make any sense at the moment? Quiet at the back, that's a rhetorical question, and the answer is no.
If you can live with the sliced white bread audio format support and lack of Micro SD expansion then the S series is pretty much state of the art. It's small, light and easy to use. It lets you copy content direct from iTunes. It's bundled with a great pair of earphones and produces a truly excellent sound. What's not to like?
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