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263 of 273 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
[Edit: Upgrade from 3.5 to 4.4 stars; see below]

After my poor experience with the Phillips GoGear mp3 player (reviewed here last week), I thought I'd see what Sony can do with an mp3 player.

I bought their first (excellent) FM walkman in 1980 but haven't used one of their portables since. I am in general a Sony fan, and my 1986 Trinitron is still running like new. Gotta love that kind of quality! But do they still have it?

First, the good:

-Excellent battery life: 30 hours for music, and it does get close to that if you don't do much scrolling. Nice.

-Lots of gigs for a c-note: about 6 bucks per gig, once you realize that it's only 14.4 gb. I hate the way companies do that, btw. Don't tell me I'm getting 16 gigs and then give me ten percent less. Be honest! Stuff like that loses customers, savvy ones at least. {Edit: 9/16/11. For whatever reason, this now costs 50% more, so it's now exactly 10 per gig...no real bargain at the price.)

-Good sound...but with that traditional Sony eq curve: very flat. I've had a few Sony receivers and cd players and tape decks over the years, and they are all very flat across the ranges. This makes for nice tight bass and decent mids, but the top end is always a little compressed and lacks shimmer and overtones. Still, a solid tone, not tinny.
And seeing as most users choose mp3 files at either 128kbps or 192kbps (I'd recommend the latter if you play this through a car or other decent full-range stereo), there's plenty of compression already, so no huge loss. Using 320kbps or wav files, which this unit does support, will result however in some noticeable loss of shimmer and breathing room for the high frequencies.

-You can use folders, saves a lot of scrolling time. Put jazz, metal, etc into their own folders. Any smart mp3 player does this.

-***Please note!***Nice, simple drag and drop of files right out of the box, with no need to install the software. Just plug the Walkman into your usb and wait for it to show up on your computer as "Walkman". Do a few clicks and you're in the "music" folder; now drag and drop your files, all at once or one at a time. Presto! That's sweetness, because almost every problem I've had with mp3 players stems from badly written software, and avoiding the need for it altogether is preferable. If you can avoid installing your included software for any player, do it; it only causes hassles in the long run unless you need a certain feature. Drag and drop is where it's at: quick, simple, efficient. And no adware etc installed surreptitiously by the software cd, a newly common scam.
PS I prefer to make the folders first as opposed to using the WMP sync feature; it has glitches, while simple folder drag and drop never has for me.

-Gets good and loud. Helps with certain headphones. Sounds good on my Koss PortaPros and great on my AKG K701s. The phones that come with this are cheese, as usual. Buds will never compare to real cans.

-Excellent for running, my main use for mp3 players. It hasn't skipped on me once and can take all sorts of shaking and bouncing. Very nice.

-Very thin, light, sleek. Takes up almost no space in any pocket, purse, etc.

-A strange design touch that I haven't seen anyone mention, but which struck me right off: the control buttons on the front panel are shaped almost precisely like Mickey Mouse's head! This can't be coincidence; surely someone in design did this on purpose. So is Sony in bed with the Mouse, or what's up? In any case, sometimes I see it and hear Mickey's estrogenic squeal in my inner ear saying, "Pluto! Punch me in the nose and let's get this party started!"

-Along with the essential external volume buttons, there's a manual lock switch on the side of the unit. Very useful to not have to scroll to make this go on and off. A good design feature that all mp3 players should have. You might want to use this when it's off and in your pocket, as the unit turns on with only minor presssure on the front panel button...but that leads to:

-Another major plus, this unit starts playing exactly where the last tune you were playing stopped, in about a half second after the button is touched. Some players take ten seconds. This baby rips right into the music in a flash (literally; flash drive players have so many advantages). Excellent.

But, the bad:

-the screen is waaay thin; it's already covered with scratches after only a few days in my empty pocket. Not good. I don't care about the aesthetics, but do need to see the screen!

-to ff or rewind quickly, you must first pause the track: took me a while to figure this out. Not a big con, but could have been been done without needing to pause.

-There's a bar showing how long the tune is but no way to see time remaining, a very useful bit of data. Until a minute or so is gone, it's hard to estimate song length via the bar, and one must hit the option button (Mickey's right ear) and then scroll down to "detailed information" to get the exact song length; too much hassle for a feature that's standard on most mp3 players. Not a big issue, but an oversight worth correcting.

-and the one thing that will make me return this item next week: you can't delete songs or files from the player. You must first hook it up to a computer! Terrible design. My years-old Muvo deletes on the fly, as do my Dell DJ and other players. This is a huge mistake: with 4,000 songs, how can I remember all the ones I need to dump? Very major flaw, and a deal breaker for me.

But, for those who only transfer stuff they already know and love, this is a pretty darn decent player. I don't know who wants to watch movies or vids on a thumbnail-sized screen, but as a music player, this offers good sound and plenty of storage for a good price.

At this rate we'll get a terabyte for a c-note within a couple years.
Can't wait! Then we can put everything on in lossless FLAC files, the only real way to go. MP3 is okay, but still a compromise.

Hey Sony: not bad...but how can you leave out such a huge feature as deleting on the fly?

[Edit: 12/30/09. I now have to give this little thang a little more than four stars...and hooray to Amazoon's code writers: we can now finally change our ratings after the original review. I returned my original to the mallwart (so nice of them to let us try stuff out! And so unfortunate they can't pay living wages so I might feel bad about costing them restocking fees...), but after looking around for a few weeks I realized this Sony unit offers far more bang for the buck than any other mp3 player out there. So I picked one up here, saving twenty over the mallwart price, and am very happy with it, barring the above caveats.

The best way to deal with no delete feature seems to be to mark the tracks you don't dig with the "wishlist" feature on the options screen, and then when you charge the unit you can open the files and delete tunes you've wishlisted. Much more hassle than deleting on the fly, but at least a workable solution to my main negative about the product.

If Sony releases a firmware update that lets us delete on the fly (not sure if that's possible or not; hope so), then I'd have to give this thing an almost perfect rating.

Pair it with Koss Portapros and you will be blown away by the sound.]

[Edit: 5/12/10. Still working fine after plenty of use while running, hiking, and hooked up to the car stereo. Zero complaints.

And here's a tip I learned from a battery expert: these lithium units apparently prefer to be full all the time, and seeing as they don't have "memory effect" like normal batteries, it's safe to recharge this unit as often as you like, with no resultant loss of memory over the long haul. But supposedly lithiums also work best and last longest if one lets them drain completely once every 30 recharges or so, and then fully fills them up again. I don't know enough about batteries to confirm or deny (though I've been doing it that way and my walkman is still running a long time before needing juice), but it was a very detailed, well-written discussion by someone with a lot of experience in the field, who wasn't selling anything, and that's the kind of opinion I tend to trust. Just FYI.]

[Edit: 1/12/11. Seeing as this review is being read a lot, thought I'd mention battery life stats after 14 months' steady usage, about a thousand hours or so. I fully charged it and left it running on shuffle last week to see how the batt's doing, and it gave me 12 hours straight. Not bad at all considering most players don't give a dozen hours out of the box. When I scroll etc in between albums, I get about ten hours now, still very satisfactory.

And I guess I got lucky, because my Walkman has yet to break down in any way. The occasional freeze is instantly fixed by turning it off and then on again.

All in all, it's given me excellent value and I'm glad this review has helped so many people get more music into their lives.]
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2010
I almost hate to give this thing only three stars because it has great
sound and hardware features. One the other hand the Sony Windows installer is so bad
it deserves negative stars. But there is a workaround - just use simple drag and drop,
and don't even run the Sony install or media software on your windows machines.

Since Sony's famous root kit fiasco (Google "sony rootkit lawsuit")
infected thousands of customers computers via anti-consumer software,
I should have known better than to ever
let Sony software run on my PC. But I wanted to get my new MP3 player to
working fast, so I followed Sony's instructions. Bad idea!!! They want
you to plug the Sony into a USB port and then run the install
software that's already in the Sony. I tried this on my old XP (SP2)
machine, and the Sony installation tried to "upgrade" my windows Media
player. There was no benefit to me for this "upgrade", Sony's
"engineers" we apparently too lazy to design an installer without this. Or
maybe they're still trying to infect their customers with rootkits.

Anyway, the install of the new MS media player failed, and in the deal
corrupted my old MS-media player. Since I primarily use VLC media
player the was just just an annoyance, not a fatal problem - but now my
old XP PC has no MS media player. Thanks, Sony :-(

Being stubborn (and a geek) I then decided to examine the Sony MP3 player a
bit more carefully on my work Windows-7 machine. The Sony mounted as a
USB device named "Walkman", but instead of just running Sony's toxic
installer again, I poked around in their file system and found
the music folder. It had a few mp3 files in it, so I decided to see
what would happen if I copied in a few more mp3 files. I did a drag &
drop with windows explorer, the Sony rebuilt the playlist with them.
There they were, playable - it worked! I then select all my mp3 files, about a
100, and dragged them over. Thanks to the magic of USB 2.0, in 10
minutes I had 100 tunes loaded - without running any Sony Windows software. They
all list and play just fine. Why did Sony provide that destructive
install and "Content Transfer" software when you can just drag & drop
files? Why not just tell customers how to load up the files in one easy
step like I did? Write a simple GUI for those who want elaborate
play-lists or auto-synch with an online service, and let the rest
of us just load & go.

But once I had some files in place I discovered the upside of this
device - It sounds great! My kids all have iPods, and this thing sounded
at least as good right out of the box, and at a fraction of the price.
I'm something of an audiophile and plan to experiment with upgrade ear
buds (the ones that come with it are pretty tinny) and maybe a headphone
amp. Just for grins, I put a pair of Sennheiser HD280 studio headphones
on the Sony - and it sounded really good! Like most MP3s the highs where
a bit slurred and mushy, but the mids and bass were clear and as loud as
I could want, even without a phones amp. The dinky Sony could drive the
large form-factor Sennheisers just fine :-). The better MP3s sound
almost like WAV files played on real high-end audio equipment. I'm
optimistic than when I get some lossless formats in there I'll have a
really good sound.

I've tried hooking my kids iPods (Nano and classic) to real stereo
equipment and never had results like this. The Sony/Sennheiser combo
beats the pants off any iPod I've heard hooked to anything.

When I was done setting it up I unplugged the USB I'd been using to
charge the battery, and tossed the player in my backpack, without
thinking to turn it off. That night I got another nice surprise - it was
still playing (4 hours later) and the battery was still fully charged.
I'm not sure how many hours they claim, but I didn't really believe I'd
get more than 5 or so in actual use. I'm now sure I'll get 10 or more.

In fairness to Sony, I must add that we've also had Apple software
nightmares with my kids iPods, like the time one kid went to
"synchronize" and iTunes erased her entire mp3 collection. She was
in tears! I write software for a living, and bugs like Sony
and Apple have should never get past QA.

Bottom line is this unit will give you great sound for cheap; but you
have to be either very lucky or willing to move files manually to use
it safely.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2009
I've only had this puppy for a day, so I can't comment on the very important subject of its reliability. Also, I don't have much interest in using the Walkman for video replay, so I don't have much to say about that, either. But my first impression is favorable. The design is sleek, the controls are intuitive, the interface is efficient, and at 16GB the storage capacity is as large as you'll get in a sub-compact flash drive player. The FM radio tuner is surprisingly sensitive.

The obvious point of comparison is to the iPod Nano, which also comes in a 16GB version. The Walkman is a bit wider, thicker, and heavier than the Nano, but it's also a bit shorter. There are three big differences in my view: the Walkman has a radio, it has much better audio quality and it's significantly less expensive. To me those differences are absolutely decisive, especially the difference in audio reproduction: It takes the Sony to make you realize how truly mediocre iPod sound is.

If you want this thing primarily as a sub-compact MP3 player for listening to music I can recommend it based on a brief acquaintance so far. I'd also recommend springing for a really good set of earbuds (Shure, Ultimate Ear, and Etymotic are among the better producers). The earbuds shipped with the Walkman or an iPod are pretty miserable.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2009
First off this is an extremely great value. A 16gb for less than a hundred bucks? Apple may be great but sony smashes them in value. This player sounds fantastic and it is very easy to use. It is slim and compact and feels very sturdy during use. The tactile buttons don't stick and the dedicated volume buttons are great for turning up the juice in your pocket without taking it out. It syncs effortlessly with both my computers (XP and Vista) and adding audio is simple.
There are a few drawbacks. First off Sony should be held accountable for their obvious false advertising regarding the battery. The product advertisises 30 hours of playback but a few months of use has yielded only about 18-20. Still not bad but not as advertised. Check out the other reviewers as they concour. Also the screen is a scratch/smudge magnet. After only a few weeks of extremely casual use my walkman has scuffs and scratches. they don't affect operation but it makes me nervous about the longterm lifespan of this product. A small minor complaint. Im a huge fan of album art and while this player allows you to make the art fullscreen it drops back to regular size the moment the screen dims out. The Ipod touch has the sony here.
Still overall a fantastic, especially is you are just looking for a full-featured, high-quality audio player.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2009
Verified Purchase
The best thing about this player is its sound. Period. There is also an adjustable 5-band graphic equalizer which can be used to save two personalized sound settings. The Clear Stereo sound enhances the quality of sound further. There are also preset Heavy, Unique, Pop, Jazz modes as well.
I had an iRiver Clix2 earlier whose internal battery died on me and some points below are in comparison to my previous player

Pros:
1. Excellent sound. Better than SRS/WOW effects available in iRiver Clix2.
2. Great looking screen. Brightness & color can be controlled.
3. Cheap for the amount of storage space.
4. Easy sync/transfer of files with WMP11 and the software it comes along with.
5. FM Radio. Goes back to the last song when you switch back to your library.
6. Starts from the last song after powering up.
7. It sounds so much better than the iRiver (or the iPod Nano I also had in the past) that I would put this once again as a pro!
8. If you do decide to watch videos on it (it's too small a screen to watch a long movie), it does do a good job of the video.
9. I haven't played it till the battery ran out, but the battery goes on for at least 2-3 full day listening time (work hours).

Cons: and some of these are just cos I was too used to iRiver Clix2.
1. Doesn't show "track time left", just time elapsed since the track began.
2. iRiver used to show the next track even in shuffle mode which was sweet. This one doesn't.
3. Cannot record FM or sound (no mic)
4. Can be slow when full. I have >2500 songs on it and sometimes starting the scroll on a long list can be slow. But, once the scrolling starts it is very responsive. There's just a 3-5sec delay between the time that the list appears on screen and the scroll appears.

I would happily recommend this player for anyone looking for a solid sounding mp3 player with a lot of storage space for the price! And it's a Sony.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2010
Cons
* No on-the-go playlists.
* No custom wallpaper.
* Memory cannot be expanded.

Pros
* Easy to use.
* Excellent sound quality.
* Excellent bass-boost feature.
* Has a five-band equalizer.
* Supplied earphones are a lot better than I expected. If you care about sound quality, however, you should still buy higher-quality headphones if you have not already done so.
* Can browse by folders.
* Supports copy-and-paste file transfers--no need to use any software.
* Rapid boots--about one second from standby, a few extra seconds otherwise.
* Can browse songs, albums, and artists by letter shortcuts.
* Supports MP3, AAC, and WMA.
* Dedicated volume control.
* Has an FM radio.
* No proprietary USB cable required.
* The differences in volume levels between songs can be minimized.

The actual amount of usable memory is about 14.7 GiB. Four-and-a-half stars.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2009
iPods are great if you want an easy to use player with basic functions, but if you want a REAL mp3 player that offers quality, then go for the Walkman. This Walkman is smaller than the iPod Nano, holds twice as much music for less money, and has a much better quality feel. iPods always felt too much like toys for my liking, but the Sony has a solid, well built feel to it. The headphones are very basic, but they still sound good. Whats best about this player is the fact they no longer have the dedicated port, and the drag and drop feature is excellent, not to mention you can play any kind of sound file with this player. Great choice!!!

Update-1/13/10: I have to say I am still loving this player. The ease of use when plugging it to your PC is great, it can automatically sync to your music files and its pretty much drag and drop. Sony's early MP3 players were tethered to their horrible download software, so they have come a long way. My only gripe is with the actual body of the player. Its made of pretty tough plastic, but the screen and the back show a lot of small scratches, so invest in a screen protector film and a case to keep it looking new. Overall very happy with this product.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2009
I did not have any reviews to look at when I bought this model. I have owned it for one month and use it daily. I'm not big on narration but I do like lists, so here goes:

PRO'S
==Easy on
==great sound (includes two equalizers and other sound altering tools)
==Great battery life
==Small enough for portability, but not too small to find in pocket
==Navigation fairly easy(Know what problems can develop in finding songs, but hasn't been a big deal for me)
==Quick to load music, and easy to add playlists and more albums
CONS
==Shuffle feature seems to choose certain songs over others
==Easy to bump power on especially when in pocket

BOTTOM LINE
==There are better players with more features, but not this much space, and good sound for the money
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2010
Verified Purchase
I love the Sony Walkman MP3 Player, and just recently purchased the 16gb to update the 4gb one that I already have been using for over a year. I was gifted an iPod nano 16gb with video for Christmas, and gave it away after trying to figure out the iTunes software, and configure the iPod. I LOVE THIS WALKMAN -- it is user friendly, and is much easier to figure out, along with the Media Player with Windows; versus the iPod and their software for windows. Also, the newer model really does have a crisper, clearer sound than the older one; just as they described. Check it out -- great value for the money. Peace :-)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2009
I use it for playing music from the folders I create by artist, album, etc.

Sound is SUPERB even with regular ear buds, equalizer and mega-bass do modify the sound a lot, volume can get pretty loud, navigating folders is a breeze.

Don't have to use Sony's software at all. Can rip with any ripper (including WMP), I use Windows MP for syncing and Windows Explorer to manage files if needed. Users complain about not being able to delete from the player and that may be an issue for some. I transfer full albums that I own and know, so I haven't even tried to delete from player. When a file had a click, I navigated the folders with Windows Explorer, deleted the defective MP3s and re-synced the newly created ones. No issue there.

Drag and drop DOES support tagging, the only thing that won't transfer is the album cover. Then again, sync it with WMP.

Does not feel cheap at all.

Have no problem with the interface at all.

I don't use it for pictures or video so can't comment on that.

CONS:
Battery life is kind of poor, but doesn't kill you; just have to charge it more often.
Scratches way too easy, body and screen. BUY A CASE AND SCREEN PROTECTOR before you use it for the first time.
Doesn't show the remaining time in the song you are playing.
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