Sony Walkman NWZ-S616F (4GB)

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Sony Walkman NWZ-S616F (4GB)
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S616F (4GB)
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S616F (4GB)
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S616F (4GB)

Pros

  • Drag and drop file transfer, user interface, sound quality, search function

Cons

  • Included headphones, screen a little small for video

Bottom Line

Sony's decision to discard their proprietary ATRAC format and clunky SonicStage software on the NWZ-S616F is a blessing. An excellent interface, good battery life and video playback make this a solid choice if you are after a compact music player.

Would you buy this?

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Sony's second Walkman player supporting video playback, the NWZ-S616F conveniently doesn't rely on proprietary SonicStage software to transfer content. A 1.8in display, FM tuner and up to 33 hours of music playback and a fairly compact design are highlights, but drag and drop technology is the most welcome addition.

The diminutive NWZ-S616F is primarily a music player, despite the unit being capable of playing videos. It supports MP3, WMA and AAC files. SonicStage software, a hindrance to previous Walkman units, has been scrapped completely. Included in the sales package is an MP3 conversion tool (converting ATRAC files to standard MP3 audio files) as well as Windows Media Player 11. The drag and drop functionality, normally overlooked on Walkmans, is a highlight.

The NWZ-S616F can sort music by song, album, artist, genre, release year and folders. You can also create playlists through Windows Media Player, while the unit also displays album art. Sony says that their new Media Manager for Walkman software will be available for free download shortly.

Sound quality is crisp and clear - although it won't satisfy audiophiles, the average listener will be pleased. The Walkman pumps out a fair amount of bass, with solid mid range, and notable bass and treble. Sound quality is helped by an excellent equaliser, with four preset settings (heavy, pop, jazz, unique) as well as two customisable, six-band equaliser settings. The NWZ-S616F also has repeat and shuffle play modes, surround settings (studio, live, club, arena), a DSEE sound enhancer, dynamic normaliser and clear stereo settings. The included headphones are average though.

The 'Time Machine Shuffle' feature is retained, while the intelligent search function is handy, allowing searches by artist, album or song; all by selecting letters from an on-screen keyboard.

Video playback on the NWZ-S616F is solid, but far from outstanding, though the viewing angle is quite good. In the end, a 1.8in display is a little small for watching anything more than a music video clip, or short movie trailer. An FM tuner is also included.

The interface is once again a strong point, with a 3x3 grid of icons easy to navigate. We aren't a fan of the design or controls though. Unlike the Walkman NW-A805's sleek white metal finish, the NWZ-S616F is largely plastic. The flat nature of the navigational controls won't suit everyone, as they sometimes require a firmer press than usual to activate.

Sony claims a battery life of up to 33 hours for music playback, and up to nine and a half hours of video playback, but we achieved significantly less, managing to use the Walkman for approximately four days before needing a recharge. The NWZ-S616F uses a proprietary port for charging and synchronising, with a USB cable included in the sales package (there is no AC adapter included).

The flash-based NWZ-S616F is part of the ZS600 series which also includes the NWZ-S615F (4GB), and NWZ-S618F (8GB) models. All are identical, with the exception of storage capacity and available colours.

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