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MP3 players have to offer a lot these days to command a place in the premium pocket real estate. Sadly, Sony doesn't seem to have realised the challenge smart phones represent and has offered the Sony Walkman NWZ-B152, a near identical revision to its Walkman of two years ago. The only notable changes are a lack of FM radio and a godawful jog dial. The Sony Walkman NWZ-B152 is on sale now at Sony stores and online for a modest £35.
Blast from the past
The B152 player looks nearly identical to its predecessor, the B142F. They're both about the same size as a moderately sized USB stick, both have tiny, three-line monochrome displays and both feature a built-in USB connector underneath a plastic cap at the end.
The only discernible 'upgrade' on the B152 is the jog dial, which allows users to turn a wheel to skip tracks or navigate menus. Don't be too excited, though -- this dial makes menu navigation far more awkward than it needs to be and is made of such shoddy plastic that it actually rattles when you shake it. The B152 is definitely pocket-friendly, but we wouldn't trust that dial to survive being crammed into our jeans with reckless abandon every day.
The USB connector is hiding under the cap at the end, which will make it easier to transfer files over, but may leave you in mortal fear of losing the cap and surrendering the player to an onslaught of pocket fluff and dirt. On the top and bottom of the player are buttons for play mode, volume, voice recording and hold that all, thankfully, feel slightly better built than the jog dial.
The tiny screen provides three lines of information about track name and artist. It won't display your photos, but on a player this size, you wouldn't want to sit around looking at the screen anyway.
Performance, performance, performance
Sony usually ekes fairly decent audio quality out of its smaller Walkman MP3 players, so we expected the B152 to gain some points here. While the high and mid-range frequencies were pretty good, the player's low-end capabilities left us rather underwhelmed.
The B152 does have a bass-boost button that dramatically increases low-end levels. The problem is, without the bass boost we found the audio was lacking in warmth, and with the boost enabled, the bass was overpowering and unrealistic. A tough choice.
A custom equaliser would have been a useful inclusion that would have enabled us to tweak the settings. A further slight annoyance came from the three red LED lights that flash continuously when the bass boost is engaged.