My unrequited love affair with the Sony NWZ-S638 Walkman

An ode to the unavailable Sony NWZ-S638 Walkman, by Jasmine France.

How do I love thee, oh Sony NWZ-S638 Walkman? Let me count the ways. Your scarlet hue so fair, your bright display so full of color, your slender figure so perfect for my hand...the intoxication is overwhelming. Sighhhhhhhh.

OK, I can't even type that with a straight face, but my infatuation with the NWZ-S638 Walkman is not fiction. It's real, and it's deep. And it's made even more desperate by the fact that the player is unavailable--this most glorious of Walkmans is on backorder at SonyStyle.com, with no hard date as to when it will be in stock.

8GB of love. Sony

Of course, one might point out that I am in a perfect situation to abuse my power and have Sony send me a "test unit." The problem is that I don't think I would be able to send it back, and this is strictly against review policy. And, as it is a member of the S-Series, there is no basis for a separate review. So, I will have lust after the device from afar for the time being, all the while attempting not to be consumed by a deep and bitter jealousy of residents of the U.K. Even when it does become available here, I'll have a bit of a struggle justifying the purchase, given that I already own several perfectly decent MP3 players.

So, why am I drooling over a particular model number in the S-Series--they're all the same, right? Not so, actually. The NWZ-S638 is a very special member of the family. It doesn't have built-in noise-canceling capability, so it's cheaper than its siblings ($149 for 8GB), but it still comes with decent headphones. For me, the NWZ-S638 is a practically perfect MP3 player, as I'll take sound-isolating over noise-canceling any day--especially if it means a lower price point. In fact, if I were rating this device specifically for myself, I'd give it at least a 9.0 out of 10. There are just a few things counting against it: it maxes out at 8GB and doesn't offer memory expansion (my sweet spot is 16GB); it doesn't support any lossless codec other than WAV; and it only comes in red, which isn't such a bad hue anyway.

In every other way, the Sony NWZ-S638 Walkman is my ideal MP3 player. It's an excellent performer, with stellar sound quality, multiple audio-enhancement options, and a rated battery life of 40 hours. The design is sleek and compact with a nice, bright screen that has great viewing angles. The interface is customizable (you can choose from several themes and set any photo as wallpaper), and it's easy to navigate; you can even navigate by album art, if you so desire. There are dedicated volume controls, and--man--I really do love having those. (It's a surprisingly hard feature to find.) Finally, there are features I actually use, namely those that play into my inherent laziness: the SensMe auto-playlist generator and support for Rhapsody Channels. There's also a good FM tuner, and support for video content rented or purchased from Amazon Video On Demand, though this device is not my top choice for portable video viewing.

Ah, I just had to get that out of my system, so thanks for letting me step temporarily out of my objective editorial shoes and wax poetic about my current gadget obsession. What about the rest of you? Love it? Hate it? What would it take for an MP3 player to get a perfect score in your book?

 

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