Customer Review

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you wanted in an MP3 Player, and MORE!, May 24, 2011
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This review is from: Sony Walkman NWZ-E354 8GB Digital Music Player (Red) (Electronics)
This is my FOURTH MP3 player. And let me say that the other 3 I own do not even deserve to be counted in the same species as this one.
SONY has created a real gem with this baby.

I should mention: I've owned many SONY products in my life and was never terribly pleased with any of them, I always felt they were tremendously overpriced, lacked key functions, and never stood the test of time. They used to make truly quality products back in the 1970s, then started to go downhill in the mid 1980s. Their multiple CD and DVD players were always a letdown.
I think SONY is a good example of a company that tried to become jack-of-all-trades and wound up master of none. Here's hoping they go back to focusing on world-class consumer electronics, where they once were second to none.
I'm very glad to see SONY finally designed something well again after 20 years. Only time will tell if it is DURABLE:).

PROS:
1) very small and light - about the size of a pack of trident gum.
2) Oh so pretty! It's a really nice shade of red and seems to have a bit of metallic luster to it as well.
3) awesome navigation - very user friendly, reasonably intuitive, responsive controls.
4) a HOLD button on the side - a mandatory feature if you carry it with you, as turning hold on prevents any other accidental button press from registering, so songs or volume will not change by accident.
5) SUPERB volume control - it actually goes up to TOO LOUD, which for my rock n roll ears is not easy to do!
6) the SHUFFLE RANDOM play actually WORKS even with a ton of songs spread over many directories. none of my other players ever got this feature right.
7) nifty builtin equalizer
8) lets you set any image you want as wallpaper, although see con #2 below.
9) comes with a few free songs and at least one of them is GOOD!
10) you can adjust volume and skip a song from the front buttons, no need to go to the screen
11) it turns on and off FAST - no insane 30 second wait like my last no brand piece of junk.
12) its got tons of awesome features i haven't even tried yet
13) you can adjust the screen brightness to your liking
14) the battery lasts a whopping 50 hours for audio and takes only 3 hours to fully charge via your USB port. be warned though: the manual notes that if you use the built in equalizer your playing time per battery charge will be cut in half. Sounds crazy to me - but that is what it says. 25 hours is still better than any other MP3 player I have ever owned - many others are challenged to hold out for 10 hours.
15) It has a built in CLOCK, which keeps the correct time even when turned off, so effectively eliminates the need for a watch.

CONS:
1: technically, this is not a SONY con but more of a Microsoft Windows XP con. As usual, a toy which should be simple plug and play in Windows XP was not. It took me about an hour to figure out that when XP says "FOUND NEW HARDWARE" and tries to autoinstall an MTP driver, what you need to do is select the option to manually enter the driver location, and then choose MASS USB DEVICE instead of MTP device. No mention of this anywhere in the SONY manual or their forum that I could find. I just stumbled over it by luck.
Also, make sure you plug the USB cable into the player FIRST, and then connect the other end to your PC each time you reconnect it - otherwise it will be detected in USB MTP mode.
2: The player allows you to set any photo you place on it as a wallpaper, however it only shows the wallpaper on the main screen. On the play screen for every song the background defaults to the butt-ugly sony walkman logo if there is no album art encoded in the mp3 file currently playing. The default album art should be customizable as well as the wallpaper.
HALF CON #3: The Sony Walkman logo is butt-ugly on this player - looks like a dog paw on acid.
3: Crazy as this sounds, you CANNOT delete music or picture files from the player directly - you can only delete them from within your computer file manager when you are connected via USB. This is a MAJOR SHORTCOMING in my view. I for one like to add a whole bunch of new music i haven't heard yet and then delete the ones that hurt my ears or soul too badly (as in, GEEZ how DID that Tom Petty medley get past my initial screening process???). There really should be a file DELETE under the OPTION Button, with confirmation of course.
4: The display screen scratches far too easily. DO NOT place this in your pocket or purse with anything else, not even a coin. Make sure the screen is well protected by soft surroundings when you carry it.
5: The remaining battery life indicator is not very useful. It SHOULD display the remaining total play time until the battery dies - instead it uses 4 segmented bars which do not seem to disappear in equal amounts of time. So once you get down to the last segment, you feel compelled to charge it immediately even though you may have 15 hours left.

BOTTOM LINE: Awesome sound in a beautiful well-designed package. All the bang of an IPOD at a fifth of the price. The longevity of the battery is a MAJOR PLUS. Buy this - it's a keeper.

WISHLIST:
In case anyone at SONY is listening, here is the number one DREAM feature that would make an MP3 player BEST IN CLASS, and I'd be happy to pay double for:
What I want is an MP3 player I can hold in my hand which WIRELESSLY sends the music to my stereo receiver located anywhere in my house, even a few hundred feet away or on another floor. Similar to a wireless router concept, but for music.
Sound quality MUST be as good as a wired connection - no loss, no interference.
Then I don't have to get up to change songs or adjust volume. HEAVEN, BABY!

7/15/2013: LONGEVITY UPDATE:
I use it at least 10 hours a week, and still good as new after 2 years plus.
Given that I haven't bought another model yet, I must still be happy:). No wonder APPLE stock is in the dumper.

9/24/2013: ULTIMATE TESTIMONIAL UPDATE:
I gave one of these to my mom for her 79th birthday, in blue to match her eyes:).
My mom is a woman you cannot email because she is afraid if she turns a PC on she "might launch a missile or something." If it were up to her, we'd all be riding horse buggies and listening to gramophones or possibly 8 track tapes:). YET AMAZINGLY, mom LOVED this little gadget. She's had hers for over a year now and constantly tells me how much she enjoys seeing the pictures on the little screen each time a new song starts (I programmed old family photos in place of the album cover art, which took me weeks to do, and is what made this gift way more valuable than just the purchase price). So thanks to SONY, you CAN, albeit rarely, teach an old dog new tricks. And we can all rest assured that if the interface is intuitive enough for my mom to be happy with, ANYONE can use it.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 25, 2011 2:08:01 PM PDT
someguy says:
kudos to you, sir. a very informative review.

Posted on May 28, 2011 8:58:54 PM PDT
Luister says:
Very good review young lady. This happens to be my first portable MP3 player, so I really could not comment on that side of it, other than it works great.

On the FM radio side of it, the reception is fantastic. I have never seen this sensitivity in a Walkman, and my first goes back to the early '80s.

Just out of curiosity, I wish you would list your previous players.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2011 8:47:10 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 29, 2011 8:47:52 AM PDT
Ariel Fisher says:
My previous mp3 players were:
1) MY FIRST bought off EBAY - an unbranded 4GIG China knockoff with a barely responsive touch screen that took FOREVER to turn on and off (literally took over 30 seconds while it would just say WELCOME, or GOODBYE! and waste screen battery the whole time).
Also often would just lock up for no reason and have to be reset to resume, wasting at least 5 minutes.
2) A COBY 4 gig player with a tiny little LCD Readout that ran off a AA battery and went through batteries WAY Too fast, and offered ZIP in the way of programming, or a functional "RANDOM SONG" function.
I got this crappy one free for sweating at 24 hour fitness for 7 months.
Yeah I know at least I reduced my waist size:)
3) Another crummy one I got for free from OFFICE DEPOT after buying something else. Was similar to the COBY, but had no brand on it and truly sucked.

So as you can see, in contrast ANYTHING would have been a step up:). So far I am very very pleased with this SONY in all regards. I will post an update after 6 months to a year to see if I still feel this way. The only thing I found sort of pathetic is that SONY only offers a 90 day warranty. Even SANSA offers a full year, even on its $35 model. But I will let that slide assuming this baby is still going strong in a year. Frankly I can't imagine how an IPOD can be better ENOUGH than this SONY To justify the $150 price difference. I admit it though - it's definitely in my genetic makeup that I simply refuse to buy any APPLE product simply because I feel they are all absurdly overpriced, and APPLE is essentially a cult, especially its shareholders:). The only thing more overpriced than an IPOD is a share of APPLE.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2011 7:36:53 PM PDT
Luister says:
There is a one year warranty for parts, while the 90 days is for labor. I don't think there would be much in the way of labor on this thing. It would just get tossed, just like most electronics today.

I first looked at Ipods, because the name is almost synonymous with MP3 players. Talk about sticker shock! Should be gold plated for that price.

Posted on May 2, 2012 5:42:29 PM PDT
Spikeydave says:
look for an mp3 player with bluetooth and then by a rechargeable bluetooth speaker for wireless. I have an ipod touch which I love in my car but I'm looking for something cheaper for biking and your review was very helpful.
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