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?
More MP3 Players...
Sony Walkman E
Creative Zen Mosaic
Sony Walkman S-series MP3 player
the radio is good too...
I have an S series Sony MP3 player, and I can confirm its rather good.
I recieved it as a present, and whether under normal circumstances I would pay extra for the sound quality, and usable interface, and physicaly well engineered feel, I couldnt say.
However the radio is rather good. It apears to use the headphone leads as an antena, so golden eared freaks with shielded wires may be out of luck, however it auto-tunes well, and can pick up a good stable signal where cheaper dedicated radios cant. FM only.
Nobody is asking you to pay £90 to enjoy music. In fact I think £86 (Amazon UK) for a 16GB DAP with great screen, great battery life and great SQ is a bargain. The equivalent iPod Nano 16GB costs around £140+ and comes with crap earbuds.
Still people have different requirement than others. In your case may I suggest Sandisk's Sansa Fuze. It has a reasonable display, great SQ and with support for micro SDHC cards. £49 at Play.com for 4GB. Or maybe the Sansa Clip.
Too expensive to just play some music!
Why do we have to pay £90+ to play our music?
Do we really need video playback and things?
Can we just have a music player (perhaps with a simple but effective display) that sounds as good as these reviewed models, that have memory slots (8GB SDHC cards are only a tenner now), but are much cheaper than these models?
Maybe Sony do have such things but you never seem to see reviews on them, as such, I don't know if the sound quality is as good etc.
You sound as though you are impressed that the Ipod touch can do stuff like maps and apps, something many portable devices were capable of doing years ago...
another tedious apple fan
On behalf of the ipod touch (which of course is a fair bit more expensive), the ability to use the BBC iplayer over my wifi network at home is brilliant. I use this extended functionality more than playing music.
This Sony player may be a better out and out audio player, but my needs have moved on...
I now really do want the web browser, iplayer, Nike+, guitar tuner, bloomberg app, maps etc
This looks like Sony is winning last years battle again.