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Sony Walkman NWZ-E443 4GB review

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Sony Walkman NWZ-E443 4GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-E443 4GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-E443 4GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-E443 4GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-E443 4GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-E443 4GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-E443 4GB
  • Walkman NWZE443B Flash Portable Media Player (Audio Player, Video Player, Photo Viewer, FM Tuner, FM Recorder - 5.1 cm 2" Colour LCD - 4 GB Flash Memory - Black)

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Allows drag-and-drop file management
  • Physical controls enable in-pocket operation
  • Uses a proprietary connector

Cons

  • Screen to small to make images/video viable

Key Features

  • H.264, mp4 and WMV video support
  • FM Tuner
  • Voice recording via mic
  • 4/8/16GB models
  • 2-inch, 240x320 pixel display
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: free/subscription

Time was when a Walkman was literally your only choice of portable music player. Unfortunately it's not 1978 any more and while they have their detractors, Apple's iPods have become the de facto benchmark against which all other portable media players must compete. That the latest iPod nano differs from its predecessor only by the addition of a video camera (which, while cool, is a bit gimmicky) and a shiny exterior speaks volumes about how far ahead of the competition Apple is, in many respects.

Nonetheless, those not willing to be tied to iTunes, or who value sound quality over a very slick user interface will recognise the advantages Sony's Walkmans offer over their rival. And that's leaving aside the often massive price hike, capacity for capacity, with which Apple's products are encumbered.

The E Series, for example, which is now Sony's closest rival to the iPod nano as the S Series has lost its way somewhat (really Sony, speakers?) starts at around £65 for this 4GB NWZ-E443, with the 8GB NWZ-E444 and 16GB NWZ-E445 available for about £80 and £100 respectively. That beats the iPod in two respects. First, the entry point for the E Series is lower, if you don't mind the limited capacity and second for the same amount of storage, Sony is asking a lot less.

It's not like the E443 feels cheap. It might be made of plastic, but there's a solidity that inspires confidence, so that even if you're clumsy enough to drop the player, it should survive the experience unscathed. A metal finish would, of course, have been preferable, but savings have to be made somewhere.

I much prefer the physical controls to the touch-sensitive ones of the Samsung YP-Q2. Being able to reach into a pocket to pause a track, or change the player's volume, not to mention being sure each press is acknowledged as such, makes the E443 far less frustrating to use than Samsung's player.

Anyone who's used a Sony player - X Series excluded - in the last couple of years will be familiar with the E443's menu system, which is just as intuitive as ever. Annoyingly the player is as picky as ever when displaying album art, so if you've embedded a png, for example, you'll be left with a placeholder icon on the player. It's a minor criticism really, though, as despite being able to display images, the E443's 2in 240 x 320 pixel display is too small and too low resolution to make the feature worthwhile.

Ohmz

October 5, 2009, 7:05 am

"...is too small and two low resolution to make the feature worthwhile."





You mean "too" not "two" don't you Hugo? :)

Mik

October 5, 2009, 11:20 am

Seems like i've been waiting ages for this review...very interested in this player, BUT!


Does it support on the go playlists?? I find that a very important feature, but the last gen of Sony players didn't do it, and no mention of it in the review. So, am I right in thinking that if you're listening to one artist, then you can't add others to 'now playing'? Is that a playlist? Thanks!

Ed

October 5, 2009, 1:12 pm

@Ohmz: Cheers, fixed.

PoisonJam

October 5, 2009, 2:18 pm

"...the only other audio enhancements available are a bunch of pre-set and two editable equalizers, which hardly count - producers put a lot of effort into making sure an album sounds 'right' and I doubt you'll do a better job."





Actually, I find the equaliser settings useful for headphone matching. I never use the stock headphones and some third party headphones need a tweaked equaliser to get the best out of them.





"Time was when a Walkman was literally your only choice of portable music player."





Think you missed out "There (once) was a..." ;)





Good review!

Salforal

October 5, 2009, 3:24 pm

Couple of questions. 1) how does the sound quality compare to the S-639? 2) does this unit support gapless playback?





Thanks.

morsch

October 5, 2009, 5:29 pm

Odd. CNET tested their unit and got 24h of audio runtime off the battery, significantly less than the advertised 30h. Thought this review was a bit rambling, I'm afraid, though this might also be due to the fact that there really isn't a whole lot to write about considering the fairly minute changes from the previous generation.





And, owning a S638 due to the sound quality, I have to say (again) that the interface is just painful compared to the Nano or even my antique iPod mini. I thought the SQ made up for it, but I was wrong, unless Apple's SQ has worsened a lot. Did they finally add a sleep (or a wakeup) timer in this generation?! No on-the-go, by the way.





Of course what I really want is a player with the interface and the size of an iPod mini, but using flash memory. Why? Just imagine how big a battery you can shove in there, with the reduced power usage of a b/w-display I'm sure you'd have 100+h of runtime.

GoldenGuy

October 5, 2009, 9:22 pm

Just so you know Hugo, I support your use of "Time was" - da-da, da-da, da-da.





Anyway, what does it record voice into?

farki80

October 5, 2009, 9:40 pm

S630 series was brilliant - even more so than a iPod Nano 4G. The sound is warmer, so that can explain why some people who has grown used to the sound signature of an iPod, to dislike Sony's warmer sound. I am waiting for the new A-series to see how Sony takes DAP to the next level.





The UI is also wonderful. Quick shortcuts to everything that matters - and with actual buttons to press too. Beats using a circle touch sensitive pad.





Morsch, all of these DAPs use flash memory including the S630 and E443 to the newest Nano.





BTW, Tursted Reviews, the new S640, that replaces the brilliant S630-series, has no built in speakers.

morsch

October 5, 2009, 10:39 pm

Obviously all of these DAPs use flash memory, but the iPod mini did not (it used a tiny HDD). Apart from that, it was pretty sweet though, I'm being told back then Apple used higher quality audio parts, too. I don't want to argue, if you like the Sony UI, good for you; I found switching to it from Apple exhausting, primarily because I missed any kind of analogue control for volume and skipping within tracks. You're aware that the iPod wheel does have actual, physical, clicky buttons?

farki80

October 5, 2009, 11:02 pm

Yeah, but you said





"Of course what I really want is a player with the interface and the size of an iPod mini, but using flash memory"





Isn't that the iPod Nano?

morsch

October 5, 2009, 11:14 pm

Spiritually, yes, but the Nano is smaller and much thinner; if you kept the player as unwieldy (by todays standards) as the Mini, you could have a device with enormous battery runtime. I'd love to be able to go for weeks (or even one week) without a recharge. It was just an idle thought, though, apologies for going off-topic...

smc8788

October 5, 2009, 11:32 pm

@ morsch - what is this 'analogue' volume control you speak of? I think you'll find the Sony players also support skipping within tracks. For me, as the primary role of a a music player is to play music, the better sound and more customisable quality is enough for me to forgive small niggles with the UI.





Oh, and have you actually *seen* an iPod mini lately? They're friggin HUGE compared to modern players, with a screen the size of postage stamp. I thought the whole point of these players was to be portable?

Hugo

October 5, 2009, 11:54 pm

Ohmz - Shh you :)





Mik - No on-player playlists at all. I never use them, but I can see why the omission would be annoying to some.





Jordan Russel - I've yet to find an equalizer on a portable player that did anything but ruin the sound output to my ears, with any 'phones I've got available to test with at any rate.





Salforal - 1) As good, if not better. 2) On further inspection, seemingly not, which is ridiculous.





Morsch - Perhaps CNET had sound enhancement features turned on? That would wear down the battery faster - I left them turned off except to test with. Sorry if I seemed to ramble, as you suggest there's not that much profound to say so if you're already familiar Sony Walkman players I'm probably giving you some superfluous info. I can't say I agree with you about the interface. It's simple, functional... basically the best non-iPod UI going.





GoldenGuy - Cheers, style is sometimes more important than grammar :) Voice notes are recorded in 160kbps (at best).

acgs1

October 6, 2009, 12:52 am

@Salforal Having read the press release, it says that continuous playback is not supported, so it seems they've missed gapless out again.


It's probably the thing that has annoyed me most with my flash-based Walkman players, so it's a shame not to see it implemented this time around...

morsch

October 6, 2009, 1:20 am

Of course the Sony supports skipping within tracks. But I'm often (as in every day) in a situation where I want to be roughly in the middle of a long track, either an audiobook or a DJ set. Skipping while holding the FWD key is inconvenient and takes a very long time; it's even more of an ordeal when you don't know where exactly you want to go. The click wheel and equivalent controls (on the Zune and many other players) solve this very well, the same goes for rapidly and exactly changing the volume. Like I said before, if you're happy with the interface, good for you.





I've got a mini lying around here. Of course I prefer today's thinner players, though I certainly think it's portable unless you're wearing hot pants or something. The screen is tiny but for me the primary role is to play music so I could live with that (sic). ;)

Hedgeporker

October 6, 2009, 7:50 pm

Slightly off topic but is there any indication as to when the new S740 series will be making it over from Japan?

Rickysio

October 7, 2009, 11:08 am

@ Hugo - Try Cowon's players.

PoisonJam

October 7, 2009, 4:55 pm

@ Hugo - with HiFis I'd agree. I have a NAD stereo amp at home hooked up to a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 9.1s. The "tone bypass" is always engaged. But some headphones are another matter. My Sennheiser MX500s combined with my S639F sound flat without tweaking the S639F's excellent array of equaliser settings. My Grado SR60s are another matter however...

scotty

October 9, 2009, 6:58 am

I have a previous Sony NWZ-A815..a brilliant little player (metal casing as well), is this new one going to be any significant upgrade? The inclusion of radio is a big plus but other than that?





The screen may be too small for watching 30 mins plus programs on bbci player but who would want to do that anyway? It's perfect for music videos.





Also how are the earphones that come with it? The ones bundled with my A815 were pretty decent quality really..

Alain

October 30, 2009, 11:11 pm

I love this MP3. I definitely have no complaints what so ever. It was even easy to put on all my audio books from www.audiobooks.net without having to change the format or anything. This is a good buy.

Lee7b3

November 1, 2009, 1:05 am

I dont know wether to get this the new NWZE443 OR the older walkman NWZA816b any help please.Which is better sound quality etc i noticed the older NWZA816b is still more expensive than the NWZE443.

vicruler

March 2, 2010, 7:45 am

Quite agree with the recommended award, it produce a very good sound quality. I use Senheisser CX 300 II with it.





Some cons I have:


1. The supplied earphone not that good, it cannot accommodate the sound produced.


2. Cannot make playlist on the go.


3. If we use the custom equalizer it will change to flat setting when we enters the equalizer menu, but if we use the preset setting provided, it doesn't change to flat setting when we enters the equalizer menu, quite an inconsistency.

Chady

May 4, 2010, 12:16 pm

All comments are good but how come no one came to mention that it does NOT display lyrics? I couldn't display lyrics at all, be it embeded in the mp3 tag or if an lrc is placed in the same folder. This was very disapointing to me.

mohan

July 8, 2010, 6:21 pm

to all people looking to buy this player..


i've been using dis player for almost 7 months..absolutely no bugs.. may be the screen is small for a few people..other than tat it is gr8..battery life is also very good..shame on i-pod..


for people who think it's wise on spending money on worthy products, i seriously suggest dis player and it'll never let you down..

Techno22

August 21, 2010, 3:14 am

Is a very good player.


FM radio is a real bonus.


Don't know how anyone could be without it.


I have the E445, 16 GB version.


Can anyone tell me, please, if it is possible to index stop points on radio or audio book recordings rather than having to start from scratch every time?

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