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Software wise, you get SonicStage version 3.0, which is a definite improvement over previous versions, but still nowhere near as good as MusicMatch or iTunes. Sony still hasn’t managed to address the playlist problem with its devices. You can create a “Group” under SonicStage consisting of tracks that are on your player, but rather than copying just the playlist data over, SonicStage will copy all the tracks over again, despite the fact that they are already there. You can of course create a Group directly on the player, but then the tracks you choose are actually moved from their original locations, to the new Group – so next time you play an album, the track that you put in your Group won’t be there anymore.
To be fair though, the whole playlist issue isn’t as important with a flash based player, and with 1GB of storage, you’re likely to be copying over mixed folders anyway, and changing them regularly. And let’s not forget that the iPod Shuffle offers no control over your music whatsoever, let alone playlist functionality.
Of course it’s not all about design, style and functionality; there’s another important factor to consider – price. At just under £150, the NW-E507 is around 50 per cent more than a 1GB iPod Shuffle. But this device offers so much more than Apple’s flash based icon. Not only does it look better, have more functionality and sport a superb display, but the NW-E507 also boasts over four times the battery life of its little white competitor.
The Sony NW-E507 demonstrates the old saying “you get what you pay for”. It may be more expensive than the iPod Shuffle, but in my opinion it’s worth every penny. Given, I still prefer to have all my music with me, which is why I have an iPod in my bag. But I have to say that the NW-E507 is a far more gym friendly device – hanging it around my neck I hardly noticed it was there while I was working out. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that this is the best flash based digital music player I’ve ever used.