Sony MP3 Player - Sony MP3 Player Review

From the company that introduced portable audio to the world - remember the Sony Walkman - comes a modern offering of portable entertainment in the form of Sony MP3 players. Sony has revamped the Walkman name and is cashing in on the popularity of MP3 players. It has several flash based models and even a few hard disk based players.

Sony Walkman Bean MP3 Player

The Walkman Bean is a flash memory MP3 player available in either 512 MB or 1 GB sizes. Its ergonomic shape fits comfortably in the hand and it can handle several different audio formats including MP3, WMA, WAV and Sony's own ATRAC. This last format is found almost exclusively on Sony devices. Sony claims it offers similar sound quality to MP3 at half the file sizes, but independent testing has not verified these claims. For those interested in sharing files, a more commonly used format such as MP3 would be a better choice.

The Walkman Bean models NW-E305 and NW-E307 have an FM radio with digital tuner, a one line display and a clock. The lithium-ion battery can be quick charged - three minutes of charging time gives three hours of power and the fully charged battery will last for up to 50 hours.

Sony Walkman Core MP3 Player

The Walkman Core model NW-E505 is a stick shaped device about the size and shape of a pack of gum. It has 512 MB of memory which is enough to hold 345 songs in ATRAC format or about 250 MP3 songs. This unit has a 3 line display and features the same quick charge battery as the Walkman Bean. Both the Bean and the Core have USB 2.0 connections for transferring songs from a computer.

Sony Walkman Circ MP3 Player

Another model is the Circ (NW-E103PS) which is a round device available with either 256 MB or 512 MB of flash memory. Unlike the Bean or the Core, the Circ only has a USB 1.1 interface. This means that song transfer from computer to player will be much slower, but with the smaller memory size of the Circ, this may not be a problem. The Circ operates on a single AAA battery which lasts up to 70 hours.

Sony Hard Drive MP3 Players

Sony hard drive MP3 players include the NW-HD5, the NW-HD1 and the NW-A3000. All three of these models have a 20 GB hard drive which holds about 5,000 songs in MP3 format. If you use Sony's ATRAC format this number goes up to 13,000.

All of the Sony MP3 players are functional and sound great, but they just do not seem to have what it takes to be a winner. The controls on some models are awkward to use, the software for transferring music from computer to player needs a major overhaul and the FM tuner, although a nice extra touch, only brings in the strongest signals.

The ATRAC format for sound files seems like a dead horse with almost no other manufacturer supporting it. It also has questionable value when compared with other formats such as WMA. To be fair, some of the Sony MP3 players support WMA, but it would be nice if Sony would ditch the ATRAC in favor of another format such as OGG or FLAC.

Where Sony players shine is in the battery life with 50 to 100 hours between charges for most models. Sony has a lot to learn when it comes to function, but they have a lot to teach about power use.

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