Officially, to get music on to the player, you must use Sony’s SonicStage software. This is bloated, and frankly – anything that requires Windows to be restarted in order to work is alarming. It is very powerful software though, and it does offer functions that many people will want.
Though it’s good that the player doesn’t require drivers to access it the down side of SonicStage is that you can’t just drag and drop music onto the device.
This contrasts with my own E507. A nifty utility that was available on the Sony support site for the E507 was ‘MP3FM’. This utility lived on the device itself and enabled you to drag and drop music straight on it. This was very handy as it is completely stand alone and required no installation.
I was disappointed to find that a similar tool hadn’t been released by Sony for the S203F, but a quick search of Google revealed a clone of MP3FM, but with added features. Not only that, but it works with this model. It’s called voidmp3fm and it’s available from drvoid.com. It is worth mentioning that it is not officially supported by Sony, but I’ve had no problems with it yet.
Sony quote around 45 minutes for a full charge, which seems about right. For this, you’ll get around 18 hours of playback, depending on the bit-rate and usage. This is of course charged using the supplied mini-USB cable. As this is a 1GB player, you can only fit a small number of albums on the device – so I expect charging will coincide with the want to refresh the music selection.
One aspect of this player I love, is that unlike the Sandisk Sansa it doesn’t need to be turned off – it is always ready to go. A simple press of the play button and it’s ready to go with no delay. With the Sansa, pressing pause to have a short discussion with a colleague, ends with waiting 30 seconds for the player to turn on again.
Sound quality is what I have come to expect from Sony – simply superb. However, I was disappointed not to find a simple Bass and Treble adjustment, but instead a full blown graphical EQ. For the Shure e4c headphones I use, I find the amplified output a little on the low side. Using the supplied headphones however, there wasn’t an issue and they don’t sound too bad either – with excellent response to bass. For dance music, which I generally find the best music to jog too, a prominent beat is essential.
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