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Sony Walkman NWZ-S544 8GB review

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Our Score:

7

Anyone hoping the Walkman NWZ-S544 would score as well as the NWZ-E443 will be disappointed. While in isolation it's still a decent media player, it's something of a step if not necessarily backwards, then definitely sideways from its S Series predecessor. And different doesn't automatically mean better.

The changes are immediately evident. The S544 is noticeably bigger than the NWZ-S639F. The reason for this increase in size is that, keeping with the current inclination towards adding slightly gimmicky features (hello, iPod nano), Sony's refreshed S Series Walkman comes complete with built-in speakers which add a fair amount of size (though not weight it should be said) to the player.

Admittedly there are benefits to having built-in speakers. Laying in bed with Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe transferred to the S544, for example, it's possible to keep the volume low enough that there isn't any distortion. Although with the volume down it might be hard to hear the programme over the raucous laughter it's likely to induce. More practically, you can use the S544 as an alarm without needing to sleep wearing 'phones (which is just a little impractical) or leave a set of speakers plugged in and turned on.

In the outside world, however, using the player's speakers is nigh unforgivable. I can't say I've ever been inclined to sit in a bus or train and blare out my music for everyone else to 'enjoy', which is probably very uncharitable of me because I have impeccable taste. Annoyingly, however, not everyone is as restrained as I and the quality of the 544's speakers at volumes loud enough to hear anything in anything but a totally quiet environment mean that what you do get to hear is an incoherent mess of noise.

In fairness to Sony, no speakers this small are going to sound amazing and it's hardly any engineer's fault if today's youths decide to misuse their products. Besides, the E Series is there if you prefer a smaller player.

morsch

October 8, 2009, 3:28 pm

Did I overread the information about the battery runtime? Seems like a big deal. Also, the radio really does live pausing? I wish my S639 did that, it just says "paused" or something like that when I hit the button in the radio screen, but when I hit it again, it doesn't pick off where I left.

farki80

October 8, 2009, 5:53 pm

The real successor to the S630 series is the S640 series.

Chris

October 8, 2009, 7:01 pm

"I can't say I've ever been inclined to sit in a bus or train and blare out my music for everyone else to 'enjoy', which is probably very uncharitable of me because I have impeccable taste."





Are you going to back up that statement by publishing some Spotify playlists? ;)

Skobbolop

October 8, 2009, 10:57 pm

"The real successor to the S630 series is the S640 series."





Exactly. I'm waiting for the S640 or the S740. Does anyone know when they are out in Europe?

Zero

October 8, 2009, 11:59 pm

Could you do a video review of this product? And test the speakers in different environments?

JK

October 9, 2009, 2:28 am

I agree with farki80. You shouldn't call the S544 the successor to the S639, when in fact it's the S640 series that is the real successor. And it should be coming out soon too. I read that the S640 series (along with the S740 series) will hit stores in Japan later this month. And a very interesting S840 series (with a 2.8" display and up to 64Gb of storage) is on it's way too. Can't wait for those reviews! :)

farki80

October 10, 2009, 4:03 am

JK, that's the A840 series. Same X-series S-master amp in a slimmer body with proper buttons, OLED screen and 64GB storage. Wonderful!!!

JK

October 10, 2009, 1:55 pm

You're absolutely right farki80. I got a little mixed up in the letters due to so many new models (S644, S645, S744, S745, S746, A845, A846, A847 + a few models with docking stations), my bad :)

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