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There are two small, round buttons on the fascia – one marked search/menu and the other marked disp/FM – pressing the button quickly will activate the first function, while pressing it and holding it will activate the second. Just to the right of these two buttons is the main play/stop button, which is also used to select options in the menu.
But it’s the main navigation control that brought back misty eyed memories of my old MiniDisc Walkman. The main control is cylindrical and twists left and right to scroll through menus or skip through tracks – just like the remote control on Sony’s old MiniDisc Walkmans, but the method has definitely been improved upon. Not only does the controller twist from side to side, it can also be pulled up and down two clicks.
With the controller closed completely, the NW-E507 is in “hold” state, so none of the controls or buttons will work. Pull it out one click and the player is active, and twisting left and right will skip between tracks. Pull it out two clicks, and the player is in Group navigation mode, so twisting left and right will skip through entire albums or artists. The latter is pretty handy for jumping to the next album or artist when you’re bored, and saves you having to go through the main menu when you need a change.
Flanking the main controller are the volume plus and minus buttons, while at the rear is a repeat/sound (EQ) button. Having a dedicated EQ button is a huge bonus, since changing your EQ setting can often bee too much hassle to bother with – even on a device that’s as user friendly as an iPod. However, you can only choose between two user defined EQ settings and no EQ at all – although to be fair, I found that switching between two user defined profiles was adequate.