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Sony NWZ-S639F 16GB S Series Premium Video MP3 Player (Black)
Bought this a while ago and have been using it fairly regularly. Recently bought an IPOD 120gb as my home audio hub and only now do I see just how fantastic an MP3 player is. Apple REALLY need to pull their socks up.
The sony has easy to use, totally intuitive menus that dont suffer from jerkiness or freezing. Unlike my IPOD. The sound quality is superb. Unlike my IPOD. Supplied headphones are pretty good. Unlike my IPOD. Drag and Drop file transfer with no unfriendly poorly designed additional software to use. Unlike my IPOD.
Usual genre, album & album art tags but with the addition of SenseMe sound organiser. So far this has been spot on with it's organisation and whilst IPOD's Genius is great, I find sony's version to be superb. It works all the time, unlike Genius chooses when to operate and when not to.
Video playback is small - obviously - as its a small player but quality is fantastic.
Overall I dont think you'll beat this player for the money.
Apple 120GB iPod Classic (Black)
My music collection is just over 65gb so short of a PC there is virtualy no choice of music players to store it. Archos and Cowon offer media players but having owned an archos it's jack of all and not great as a dedicated music player. So bring on the IPOD. I'm a big hater of everything apple and have to say initially this didn't do much to change my opinion.
If you've only ever owned IPOD I can see this will be superb. Great build quality, nice to hold and the user interface looks good, itunes means you can easily by and transfer MP3's (but for the price they pay go and buy the CD album for cheaper and rip it yourself). But if like me you've always used other brands (personally having 4 other music/media players in use around the house I've a fair comparison) you'll realise how overrated this player / IPOD? is.
Menu - slow to repsond and jerky.
Click wheel thing either takes ages to respond or flies round really quickly so you'll never actually land on the option you want.
Sound quality - NOT good for a player at this price. Sounds like my music is encoded at 56kbps yet all my music is a minimum of 192kbps. Worst sound quality I've ever come across, even comparing it against my 5 year old iRiver.
No user definable equaliser and depite there seeming like thousands of presets, none will give a decent sound.
Headphones - apalling.
No ability to play music by Folders/file names. This means you have to have all your music tagged correctly or you get UNKOWN ARTIST, UNKNOWN ALBUM, UNKNOWN GENRE etc etc.
iTunes - possible the worst music programme I've ever encountered and failed miserably at tagging my MP3's. I had to use another readily available programme that worked a treat.
Genius - FANTASTIC. With a collection aproaching 70 gb the genius feature helps reduce the time trying to decide what to listen to. So far it's selections have matched my choice/mood pretty well.
In summary if I'd bought this as a portable player I'd be VERY disappointed. So why give it 4*? These days everything is made for IPOD. I bought it to replace a CD player and avoid the use of PC streaming devices to play MP3's on a decent sound system. Bought an ONKYO dock, plugged it into my ONKYO AV receiver and now I've got a SUPERB aduio system.
The dock bypasses the IPOD sound processor and gives a crystal clear great sounding system. I can control it with my AV remote and it looks great sat in its dock on top of the AMP and I dont have to have hundreds of CD's cluttering my lounge.
For the simple ease of use, space saving and simpe classic looks I can live with the slow menu and once I'd used a decent programme to organise my music I can even live with iTunes. And for decent sound on the move I'll use a player with better sound processors and menu options.
As a portable music player you can get far better, albeit smaller capacity (do you really need to take 120gb everywhere with you?) but as a central hub (via a dock) for your sound system you wont get better.
Sony NWZ-S639F 16GB S Series Premium Video MP3 Player (Red)
I've long been a fan of Cowon MP3 players. Never found anything to beat them on battery life, sound quality or features. Alas I had to look to other brands to do what i wanted this time and Sony seemed to be the only option - I wanted a decent music player as that would be the priority for me but also wanted the ability to play video now and then. And decent battery life is essential. Cowon D2 was a definite choice but too video orientated. The Cowon 7 met just about all criteria apart from the screen being too small to watch anything on. Lots of other players offered features but poor battery life. In steps the Sony to do all I wanted. Or so I thought.
Sound quality on the supplied headphones is OK. Not outstanding but comparable with other brands. Swap them for someting decent and it really comes alive. I dont think anything will beat this little player. Way in excess of my Cowon and iRiver players using the same headphones.
Menu - really simple to use. Drag and drop also really nice to use which is a definite plus over earlier Sony offerings. HOWEVER, the functions are pretty limited with no alarm or sleep timer and seemingly half the functions I've been used to on other players. Not the end of the world.
What is disappointing is no facility to create on the fly playlists. This is a great feature on Cowon players but nothing offered on the sony. You have to create playlists via the pc but I dont know what my mood will be like 5 hours later. I really miss that feature.
On the plus side it does have SenseMe which groups music according to mood and it does go some way towards making up for the lack of playlist making ability. Overall it does seem to group them well. Play features are as would be expected - genre/year/artist/folder etc.
Video quality for something so small is fantastic and screen quality is light years ahead of the Creative Zen I used to have. No blockyness and really smooth - using the same files on both players the sony was in a completely different league.
Radio - well, it picks up radio sigals. Does what its supposed to and reception seems pretty good.
The main disappointment is the battery life. Dont know what planet they were on to get 40 hours but in my world its nothing like that. I know they always exagerate but after a full charge and 10 hours music playing I'm down to 1 bar. I doubt that 1 bar will run for anything like another 30 hours. I might be wrong but thats a long way off what they're touting. And they dont supply a mains charger. That wouldn't be too bad but you dont get the option to just charge from the USB computer port. Plug it in and it swtiches to MTP mode for file transfer rendering the player unusable till the battery has been charged again. Unless you buy a USB 3 pin plug to charge from the mains. For me that is a major disapointment as I wanted to use it travelling without having to keep relying on power points to charge it. Cowon promised me 35hrs on my other player and I usually get 30 hrs. Sony apeared to have doubled their guestimates. Not impressed.
Overall this player plays video and music to a very high standard but thats it. The "extra" features are very basic compared to other brands I've encountered and combined with the severely overstated battery life mean this player no longer stands out from the crowd. Overall I'm a little disappointed hence 3*.
Creative Zen 4GB MP3 Video Player (Black)
I've got a couple of MP3 players (one with masses of storage space, one for sports) but ones a funny shape and one's too heavy to just throw in a pocket and go.
Wanted something small and light and if I could transfer my DVD's onto it then it'd be a huge bonus. I was talked into this player and to be honest I'm not disappointed. Very light and a perfect size to go in my pocket.
The manual is on the bundled disk and not the most user freindly but with the paper quick guide and a little common sense it's a doddle to work out how to use the player and its software.
Converting files from DVD to get them onto the player can be a bit of a faf but that's not the players fault. It comes with software to convert video files and transfer them to the player. Its not the quickest but it works fine. NB convert video files means avi's or MP4's etc NOT your DVD disc. You'll need extra software for this but hunt on the net and you'll find some pretty good software to extract DVD content to AVI which can then be transferred to the player using its own software.
Disappointingly this player is nowhere near as "independent" as my others as it needed the drivers to be installed from the bundled software - may not work on other computers without the software installed so it isn't quite up to normal mass storage expectations. Dont yet know how it'll cope on other computers without the Zen software. BUt thats only a minor issue for me.
Quality feels good, user interface on the player is really nice and the additional software is very user freindly (although a little slow).Sound quality is very good and nice to have user defineable EQ. radio reception is good and picture quality is superb.
ONE IMPORTANT POINT - IF YOU'RE NOT TOO HOT ON INSTALLING DRIVERS DONT CONNECT IT TILL YOU'VE INSTALLED THE SOFTWARE. I did. After the software was installed it wouldn't recognise the player as it had previously tried to install drivers held within Microsoft XP and failed to find any suitable ones. Once I'd updated the drivers it connected without a problem.
Overall: will keep me occupied for ages and very impressed. Best purchase for a long time. The free downloadable content from Zencast is not the bests but its a nice touch (shame it caters specifically to the American Market) but Apple could learn lots and give something away for free!