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Sony Unveils New S Series Walkman PMPs

Gordon Kelly

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Sony Unveils New S Series Walkman PMPs

The Walkman brand is probably one of the greatest cautionary tales of modern technology. Utterly dominant in the 1980s and early 90s, Sony overlooked the MP3 player revolution (and remarkably MP3 format support) and watched the iPod take over. For the audiophile however the Walkman brand still means a lot and Sony's latest addition may well tempt them to bend a little plastic...

The Walkman S series has had an annual refresh replacing the 16GB NWZ-S639F, NWZ-S738F and NWZ-S736 with the NWZ-S540 line. Or at least it appears that way - Sony please sort your product names out!

Either way, the 10.2mm thick S540s seem competent enough with 2.4in QVGA LCD displays, FM tuners with recording and support for MP3, protected WMA, AAC audio and H.264 and WMV video. Sony excels as usual on battery life quoting 42 hours for music and 6.5 hours for video. The range also sports integrated speakers, but in use this will drop battery life to 17 hours (audio) and five hours (video) respectively.

No doubt audio quality will be up to the Walkman's usual high standard with 8GB and 16GB versions going for $110 and $130 and a choice of black, pink, violet and red finishes available at launch this month.

'In related news Sony has also announced the E Series is also now on sale. It looks much the same at the S Series with slightly reduced battery life (30 hours audio, six hours video) and a smaller 2in display. Pricing here is a horribly self cannibalising $80 and $100.

Yep, Sony you really do need to sort things out...

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Max

August 26, 2009, 11:35 am

Yes, I think it's time that Sony started taking the Apple approach and build a line around the X-Series rather than maintaining the current line.





If they can integrate a decent browser, their own 5 point multi-touch system and move the massive Home button or make it smaller the X-series would be worth having. Make a 5" version (800x480, 16/32/48/64GB), a 2.4" version (640x360, 8/16/32GB) call it some variation of the word Nano. Price it aggressively, market it very aggressively by ignoring all of the failures of the past flash based Walkman line up and relaunch it with just the two versions available.

Queelis

August 26, 2009, 12:40 pm

I don't agree - I, for one, often take my music player to do sports, and a huge touchscreen PMP just wouldn't cut it for me - way too large. This new S series is a attractive, though - not too clunky, yet browsing, I assume, will still be convenient.

farki80

August 26, 2009, 1:38 pm

I have the X-series and love it, and yet I still use my S-series from time to time. It has buttons - which makes so much sense when jogging and doing other outdoor activities. There is a market for touchscreen-less DAPs.

MrGodfrey

August 26, 2009, 2:58 pm

I'm with Queelis... I don't want Sony to simply copy Apple. In fact, I don't even want a touchscreen PMP. Kind of redundant now I have a smartphone. What I'm after is an MP3 player with good battery life and excellent audio quality, which is what the S-series (and formerly the A series) provide. I'm just looking forward to an increase in capacity; 32Gb would be nice.

Gordon394

August 26, 2009, 4:27 pm

@MrGodfrey - 32Gb would be awful, 32GB on the other hand... ;)

MSIC

August 26, 2009, 4:58 pm

This appears to be how Sony have been for many years - excellent hardware, but odd decision making, poorer marketing, and terrible software (although please correct me if software is decent these days).


Is this still a question of the different Sony divisions interfering with the digital audio department?


If Sony could just make great hardware, and someone else could actually sell it, it could be great indeed.

Max

August 26, 2009, 5:43 pm

I did quite forget about all of the joggers out there!





Suppose someone who sits around all day doing no exercise wouldn't think of that! So yeah, keep the functional stuff, but I wish Sony would make the effort to compete with Apple in the PMP arena, I really like the functionality of the Touch, but hate the sound quality. I wish Sony would get their act together with a PSN store for other devices and get an MP3/AAC based music store working along with the mobile video store that the PSP already has, make a decent browser or use Chrome/Firefox and give all PMPs Wi-fi for access.





I mean the video store instantly gives Sony the biggest mobile device user base for distribution, 55m PSPs out there, why not expand the market with a music store, makes no sense. Also I would love to see VidZone ported to Sony PMPs, would be awesome!

farki80

August 26, 2009, 9:23 pm

@MSIC





All Walkmans released outside Japan (NWZ) for the past 2 years has been MTP/UMS compliant - meaning no need to use any proprietary software (e.g. iTunes or Zune) to transfer media over.

Ohmz

August 27, 2009, 12:16 am

Am I the only one here who thinks these players are friggin ugly?





Oh well, you buy Walkmans (Walkmens?) for the sound quality I guess...

Gordon394

August 27, 2009, 12:19 am

@Ohmz - no, not the only one ;)

rav

August 27, 2009, 3:20 am

Think I'm definitely gonna go for a Sony once my Nano's had it's day. An audio player with no buttons is a big fail. You should be able to control it without even pulling it out of your pocket, let alone having to look at it.

DaHarder

August 27, 2009, 9:33 pm

I picked up as NWZ-S545 last weekend at Fry's Electronics, and it's a fine piece of kit. The sound quality is great (as usual), has a pretty decent voice recording/FM recording feature, outstanding battery life, and rather usable built in speakers (on the back of that player- by the way). For 130.00 US, it's easily the best deal in the DAP market IMO.

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