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Sony Walkman NWZ-S544 8GB - Sony Walkman NWZ-S544 8GB

By Hugo Jobling

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

While the feature set of the S544 is somewhat reduced from its predecessor, the most important aspect, its performance, is every bit as good. As long as the source files are of a reasonable quality (think iPlayer downloads, not YouTube rips) then videos look pretty snazzy. Colours are vibrant, the screen is bright, playback is smooth and clear, plus viewing angles are good enough that two could watch a video at the same time. I'll leave it to your imagination as to when that might be useful.

Audio performance using a decent set of 'phones is every bit as good as the S639F's. Yet again there's plenty of warmth, clarity and detailing that the likes of an iPod simply can't match. The Offspring's typically crashing guitars and catchy lyrics on Americana are reproduced with plenty of presence, great low down detail and a generally catchy tone. The likes of HeartsRevolution's synth-ridden CYOA! are portrayed well, too, the punchy output of the S544 making it all the more addictive listening than on a lesser player.

It should be said that some players like Cowon's iAudio S9 still sound better, especially with more sophisticated music, such as Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. However, the difference is only really noticeable with a fairly high-end set of headphones in a quiet environment. Plus the S9 is a fair bit more expensive, which is an important consideration.

Ok, so audio performance isn't quite up there with the best players, but can it outshine them with its format support? Well no, not really, as that's the S544's real Achilles' heel. Even though for most, MP3, AAC, WMA and Linear PCM support will be sufficient, when rival players can also play back OGG and FLAC files it's annoying that Sony's player does not. If you can accept that limitation, though, you should find the S544 a perfectly capable player.

Verdict

The Sony NWZ-S544 doesn't quite impress as much as the NWZ-S639F it succeeds, the NWZ-E443 sounds almost as good while costing less and there are better sounding, better featured players out there. But accept its shortcomings and the S544 is still a credible player.

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Value 7
  • Usability 8
  • Sound Quality 8

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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