Although you can play mp4, h.264 and WMV videos, the small screen size and resolution makes it a headache inducing experience. As you might expect, even though BBC iPlayer downloads will playback just fine, squinting at the screen for an entire episode of Antiques Roadshow is more than you’ll want to suffer.
Less frustrating is the software-free management of files on the E443. Sony supplies music management software on the player itself, but anyone who installs it is surely mad because drag and drop transfer is far, far easier. Besides, Windows Media Player’s syncing abilities are more than good enough if you are inclined towards automated music management, anyway. The only downside is the slight delay as the E443 searches through your files each time it’s powered on, but it’s a concession worth making.
The single most annoying ‘feature’ of the E443 is its proprietary connector. Sure, this means it will fit into older Sony Hi-Fi systems that have docking ports, but when there’s plenty of space for a mini-USB port its more than a little annoying that Sony has seen fit not to provide one. Apple get’s away with it because iPod docks are more than just misshapen USB ports but the E443 has no such defence and Sony seriously needs to fix this with the next generation of Walkmans.
The E443 might not have a video camera – and will be considered all the better for it in my estimation – but it does have an FM tuner. I’m as unconvinced as to its necessity here as ever, but at least it has feature parity with the nano, with live pausing and recording both supported.
More useful, to my mind, is voice recording. The E443’s microphone is placed rather awkwardly, such as it ends up pointing into your palm with the player held ‘normally’ so if you forget to point it at what or who you want to record you’ll end up with muffled audio. Otherwise the quality is as good as can be expected – sufficient for taking revision notes or recording a private meeting, but not a concert.
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