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Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F 16GB review




  • Recommended by TR

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Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F 16GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F 16GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F 16GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F 16GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F 16GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F 16GB
  • Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F 16GB


Our Score:


A few weeks ago I took a look at the mid-range model in Sony's updated Walkman range: the NWZ-E436F. It was a great little player, boasting excellent sound quality and coming in at a very aggressive price point, but - much as I liked it - I couldn't quite bring myself to dish out the awards. Maybe it was the slightly jerky video playback, maybe it was the limited 4GB capacity, but Sony's little player didn't quite do enough to leave the competition in the dust. It did, however, leave me hungry to see the new model in the premium S series: the NWZ-S639F we're looking at today.

Sony has made much of the fact that this is the thinnest Walkman ever, but the big surprise for me was how similar this S series model was to the E series I was still listening to only a week or so ago. In fact, the S639F is a whole 2.1mm less wide, 4.6mm less tall and a mere 1mm thinner, with the same size 2in screen and the same control layout as its less pricey sibling. Woo-hoo! To be fair, however, the E series felt very light in the pocket and this one feels practically unnoticeable.

The proprietary USB connector (boo) and headphone socket sit in the same place at the bottom of the unit, and the only other major physical difference is that, where the E series was all matt and gloss plastics the S series is all solid, sturdy aluminium. Sony's design still feels just a tad less inspired than Apple's, but you can't really fault it in terms of fitness for purpose.

I've similar feelings about the interface, which again seems to have been carried over wholesale from the E436F. Does Sony have anything to match CoverFlow or the accelerometer-controlled screen orientation of the Nano? No, but it does have a functional GUI where every option is pretty much where you'd expect it. The S639F works well one-handed, and the mainly list-based browsing options, with album cover thumbnails, make it easy to track down the audio or video track you're looking for.

Tarik Bos

November 9, 2008, 6:25 pm

hey stuart did i just see an FM radio on one of the screenshots of the player? might be handy to put that in your review. i actually own one of the previous series (A828) the one thing i missed on that player was an FM radio.


November 9, 2008, 8:57 pm

This is gonna be my new player, IF the S9 doesnt get the reviews i'm hoping for..


November 9, 2008, 10:21 pm

Couldnt agree more with the review. I picked this player up last week and im amazed at just how good it is. I find the GUI really easy. It all makes sense and is very easy to get to grips with. The sound quality is just astonishing and the supplied headphones are not half bad.

I was also pretty sceptical about the aesthetics, however the design is definitely a "grower". Design is just about the only area where the nano beats it.

Genius on the nano is also more accurate. I found that the sensme feature on the sony can sometimes be way off. ie skatman in the relaxed section lol.

The radio is actually suprisingly gd. It has a fairly strong signal most of the time.

All in all i would also recommend it.


November 9, 2008, 11:59 pm

does it support file/folder or ID3 browsng?


November 10, 2008, 3:07 am

Thanks for the review. I was waiting for TR to review this player before i bought it.

Now i can safely take the dive ;)

Harry Fowler

November 10, 2008, 4:40 am

'...but on this Sony/Denon combo it just makes you want to get up and go get that hot chick on the dancefloor.'

Haha classic :)

another great review.


November 10, 2008, 8:38 pm

Thanks for the positive feedback. It really is a great player - I've had it with me over the weekend and I really, really don't want to give it back! On your questions, yes it does have an FM radio, and a very good one to. As for browsing, it does ID browsing but you can also search by folder if you need to. Stu.


November 12, 2008, 8:09 am

Glad I read this review!

I was just about to buy the A829 as am fed up with the flat sound from my 2G Nano.

How does the S639F compare to the A829 with regards to sound quality? The latter has had good reviews in that respect and just wanted to check whether this newer model offers the same quality!



November 12, 2008, 7:07 pm

@jackstraxx, users over at head-fi.org rate this player as good or better sounding than the A82* series. The A829 costs atleast 㿞 more isn't bundled with wireless BT headphones, but you do get a larger 2.4" screen at the same resolution. It doesn't have FM radio and I'm not sure if it can playback iPlayer download which I believe are WMV (DRM).

I found a A828 online for 𧴜, same price as this player, so for me it was a case of do I want wireless BT or the extra 8GB, I chose the A828.


November 12, 2008, 9:42 pm

Thanks for the info!

Where did you see the A828 for 100 notes?

Jim 4

November 15, 2008, 3:48 pm

Just brought an 8 gb iriver l-player for 㿳. It is constantly freezing,hard to navigate. Will be sending it back with the denon headphones, to get sony player 16gb for 䀏


November 15, 2008, 4:47 pm

Great review, glad I read the comments too to see this player has a radio. I am torn, I have read some reviews for the Samsung YP-Q1 Diamond which is just being released and it also sounds great, nice (larger) screen, same price and sexy to boot. Have you had a chance to look at this player yet? How does it compare with the Sony? Which should I buy????? Chees.


November 16, 2008, 9:53 pm

The review on this site says that "the Sony NWZ-639F has a slight edge when it comes to audio."


November 17, 2008, 6:30 pm

Picked up the 4GB version of this today, a little disappointed as it does not come with the fancy headphones shown in this review! I figured 4GB would be enough for me and so saved 㿔 but not I have to buy some better headphones!


November 18, 2008, 10:35 pm


are you sure you have not bought the E436?


November 22, 2008, 10:13 am

Accepting the fact that there is no on-the-fly playlist creation, can anyone tell me if selecting tracks for a playlist within the player causes the now-playing track to briefly pause (small half-second blip) like it does on my aged NWA3000? And since we're on the subject, does anyone have any ideas on how to persuade Sony to issue a firmware update that enables on-the-fly playlist creation?


November 23, 2008, 6:54 pm

That is a great review Stuart, thanks. I now own a S639. However, I was wondering if you did any data transfer speed tests? Lovely though the S639 is, I can only get mine to transfer at 18.4 Mbits/sec which seems a little slow for High Speed USB. Did you manage to get much faster speeds? Cheers, Tim


November 26, 2008, 2:42 am

I used to own a Sony NWA-3000, looked gorgeous,though you couldn't read the screen in direct sunlight. My main gripe was the looooong time it took to go search through the music library if you had a decent number of songs on it. If you searched for a song beginning with C and you had to scroll from the first one, it took forever.... Does anyone know if this S369F has similar issues?


December 11, 2008, 2:47 am

I starting with the Samsung YP-Q1 and really tried to justify keeping that unit due to the larger screen, true drag&drop, and better codec support. My dissapointment with GUI, FM radio, player sound quality and lack of tactile feedback on the keys lead to my purchase of the Sony S639 for comparison.

Bottom line is that the Samsung YP-Q1 is going to be returned, and I am keeping the S639. This despite the Sony having crude PC software and no FLAC/OGG support.

Best features of the Sony are its sound quality, GUI, and SensMe playlists. All of these combined make for a very enjoyable MP3 player. Smaller screen size does not impact me using this device without my +1.75 reading glasses. It helps that the keys can be operated accurately without having to look at the MP3 player.

Truth is that the Q1's larger 2.4" screen is still a small screen with same 320x240 resolution as the crisp sony 2.0" screen. I rather use a smaller ligher Mp3 player day-to-day then the larger Q1 which wieghs 50% more. (60g vs 90g).

I have yet to load my own videos onto the Sony with success, but this is a secondary use for me. The supplied demo videos play well on both Samsung & Sony players. It appears that the supplied {Sony} PC SW does not perform any transcoding and use of upgraded ($) software may be required. I have Handbrake, so will give this a try first.

Cheers! Time to go buy some cheap case covers from ebay for the S639.


December 22, 2008, 10:33 pm

Update to my prior comments.

Sony S639 does support drag & drop for loading files.

Sony does not support voice or FM recording. (Samsung Q1 does)

Sony does not display song information on FM stations (where available) (Samsung Q1 does).

Handbrake (free!) works very well for transcoding and video file into format that Sony accepts. I did have to update the settings using "5G ipod" as the starting point. Resolution=320x240, audio bitrate=128kbps dolby, advanced tab replace the following; level=13:bframes=0:cabac=0

Still very much in honeymoon phase with the Sony. Would not consider any other MP3 player.

Youngie 21

January 31, 2009, 7:55 pm

This is a great little mp3 player The reasons why are as follows

I love the drag and drop technology

Love the "Sense me"Copyright song tech

Love the fact that you can download programmes on the bbc (via Iplayer)

The supplied headphones are fantastic

The operating system is so easy to use with one hand

FM Radio

The podcast library is fantastic

For those reasons GO BUY IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


February 6, 2009, 4:40 pm

Hello. Im looking at getting a new mp3 player. Im more interested in sound quality than anything else. This SOny walkman looks great and from this review and your comments sounds like what im after. My only question is, do i hold out for the new Sony x series or go for this? If the sound quality is going to be the same on both id ratehr get this (abit impatient and not too fussed about touch screen).

Thanks Krish.


March 14, 2009, 10:02 pm

@Krish, it really comes down to what purpose are you buying the player for.

The new walkman with its 3 inch amoled screen will be great for watching videos but I dont expect Sony to be able to improve a lot on the current generation of A/S series when it comes to sound quality.

Keep in mind the new walkman will retail for over 250GBP where this one is going for about 100GBP, so it really in the end is your decision keeping these things in mind.

Personally I think this offers tremendous value at that price for 16GB and with that awesome sound quality. Since I only wanted a great MP3 player in a small form factor and not necessarily a video player, this would be my choice.


March 16, 2009, 11:44 am

Will cost more than SGD350 when it touches down here and rape the hell out of my wallet.

Guess I'd have to stick with getting an E436, which is more than SGD170.


April 17, 2009, 9:25 pm

Ok. I bought this mp3 player about a month ago and all i can say is wow. Sound quality is awsome. Lightweight, easy to navigate and overall very impressed. My only issues is You have to make playlists before you put the songs onto the player. Is there anyway round this? I already have 2000 songs on my player and when i connect to my laptop it won't let me create playlists using the songs on the player. If i do this it syncs the songs from the player to WMP.

Also will i lose the songs on my player if i sync to different media players? I sync'd my player to media player on my pc and then when i wanted to do it to my laptop it said the player was already syncd to another device so i just cancelled. Any ideas?

P.S I really don't want to put anyone off this player it is honestly brilliant. If you listen to the same song on the ipod and then on the player you will be blown away at the better sound quality from the sony player.

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