Thursday, October 6, 2011

Old Post: Sony Walkman S616F Review

Found this MP3 player review.

Sony Walkman NWZ-S616F Black Review

The name Walkman has always been known to mean quality. Sure Sony had some problems with software, and I am sure we all remember Sonic Stage well. They had pushed the Atrac format and lost to MP3. Well, in this revision of the Walkman MP3 player line, this one is all good.

Let's start with some general specifications to the S610 series. There is also a A810 series that has similar features with a different design. There are a few different models and colors. In stores you can find it in black, red and pink. There is a Sony exclusive silver model as well. They come in 2, 4, and 8 gigabyte models. I will be reviewing the 4GB model in black but they are all the same.

The main difference between the two is screen size. The S610 has a smaller 1.8" QVGA display (320 by 240) and the A810 has a larger 2" QVGA display. The display is measures diagonally and can be either portrait or landscape orientation.

They can support a variety of audio formats. These are MP3, WMA, AAC, and WAV. AAC is only for unsupported files so I don't think you can play iTunes DRM music on this. DRM files will work from stores that use Plays For Sure files such as Napster.

Video support is there but in a limited fashion. You can only play MP4 and M4Vfiles at 30 frames per second. It is easy enough to convert a video to play on it though. You can set it to play landscape or portrait mode. Most of the videos are so landscape so that will be the best setting.

The prices range from $99 for the 2GB and $179 for the 8GB. The 4GB will run you around $120 to $150 depending on where you buy the player. I paid $120 for mine at Circuit City.

1 Let's get onto the design overview now.

The front of the device contains the all-important screen. As stated before the screen is a 1.8" QVGA screen that looks absolutely gorgeous. I have a screen protector on mine since I do not like to risk scratching it but when the unit is on, you cannot even tell it's there. The screen is very bright and vivid. The colors look very amazing when displaying a picture or watching a movie.

The buttons are below the screen. There are 3 raised buttons. The first two are rectangular shaped and provide 2 functions each. The first is the back button. It will go back to the previous screen. When you hold the button down it will go back to the home page. The second one is the option button. This will bring up the context menu. Powering off the player is done by holding the option button. The other button also serves 2 purposes but not by holding the button. The button is the play/pause button and the select button. Surround these buttons is the directional pad. These are just 4 arrows that are pressed. They are not touch sensitive.

The back is very bland and only has logo and brand information.

The sides are very sparse, the only things on the left side lanyard loop attachment and the hold switch. The right side contains the volume up and down rocker. The top contains the headphone jack. The bottom has a WM Port for syncing and charging and a reset button.

Not really much stuff in the box. Just the usual documents, USB cable, headphones, and a attachment for the optional cradle. The Software CD contains a Napster trial and Windows Media Player 11. I did not need to use this since I already have Windows Media Player 11 installed.

2 The interface

The interface has a black color theme for the most part. The home screen is a 3 x 3 grid of icons. They are a bluish color but turn orange when selected. The icons are:

Intelligent Shuffle, FM Radio, Initial Search,
Photo Library, Music Library, Video Library,
Settings, Playlists, and Now Playing.

There are 2 bars, the top of which says Home. The bottom bar will show the info for current track and battery.

The now playing screen is the most important screen since it will be the one you see most of the time. It will display track titles, artist, album, and genre. The bottom bar has time and play mode.

This player does not have a lot of extras so people who like to fiddle with stuff when bored are somewhat out of luck there. The settings menu has settings for music, pictures, video, and common settings.

3 The good

This player is an amazing little device I must say. I love it and I don't think I will giving up using it any time soon that is for sure! The Thing has a lot going for it and I think that it could very well be the next iPod killer.

First, the battery life is amazing coming in at 33 hours. I have never timed it but I would say that seems to be spot on accurate. I have used it for a while and the battery was only half drained. This was over the course of 2 days. The battery even charges fast. 3 hours for a fully dead battery, and 1.5 hours to get to 80%.

The thing also gets 8 hours for video playback which is very good. I personally have never tested this because of the smallness of the screen. I bought this to use for music. not videos so I am very happy that it can play them if I never need to.

The thing has a FM radio too. I do not ever use this but I love having it. I have to say that I think that every MP3 player should have a radio. I do not listen to radio stations that often but they can be used with one of those transmitters to make wireless headphones that are better than the ones they sell.

The screen on the thing is amazing. It's a small screen with a 320x240 resolution so it looks great. There are 5 levels of brightness. I leave mine on 3 and its fine. The colors are very vibrant and text is easy to read.

Sound quality is amazing too. I use low bitrate WMA and still sounds amazing. I am not an audiophile nor do I want to be one but this thing has great sound. The settings allow you to tweak the sound with an equalizer, normalizer, and a surround sound and enhanced sound. There is also clear stereo.

One problem with most players is the volume. This one is nice and loud. I have been keeping mine around 10 for most songs except a few that have low volume. The thing can go higher than anyone will ever need.

The intelligent shuffle mode really works well too. I don't use the time machine mode but it takes a random year and plays all music from that year in random order. I use the shuffle all mode. It actually shuffles the playlist instead of playing random tracks.

THIS THING IS SMALL! At only 42 x 79 x 11.5 MM, this thing is going to fit in a pocket nicely. It's not too thin that it feels fragile but not so thick that it won't fit into a pocket. Though this is not going to win any smallest player awards it is a good size.

The thing also has a lanyard loop hole. I use a neck strap I got form an old flash drive and its prefect for this. It's easy enough to use on a loop and small enough that it isn't going to hurt your neck.

The player supports drag and drop on Windows! It can also be synced to Windows Media Player 11 or 10 if you choose to do it that way.

4 The Bad

There is not much to fiddle with as I said before. The only extras are photos and the clock really.

The one bad thing is that the battery is locked inside the device but thankfully it lasts a long time so you won't need to worry much about it going dead suddenly.

5 Mixed feelings

The only really bad thing is a mixed feeling really. There is a dock port instead of a standard mini USB. Now this is mixed because Sony is going to have accessories for the "WM Port" like cradles and Bluetooth adapters.

6 Final Thoughts

I would probably give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Why dock it half a star? The WM Port means that you cannot use any old USB cable. If you lose it, you have to get a new one. Over all though the player is an amazing device that sounds great and is small but not so small it feels bad in the hand.

Would I buy this for somebody? Yes I would. I would buy it again too but probably in a bigger capacity since by then; flash devices will be in the 128GB range for cheap.

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