It's not the cheapest player on the block--the Creative Zen V Plus, which offers roughly the same features, runs 30 to 40 bucks cheaper. However, the NWZ-S610 offers a more sophisticated design with a larger (1.8-inch) screen and a higher-quality feel.
Happily, volume is handled via a dedicated rocker on the right spine of the device. Tweak sound even more via the snazzy EQ section that offers a graphic representation of the presets (five in all, plus two user-defined modes). There are also various sound-enhancement tools--Digital Sound Enhancement (DSE), Clear Bass, and Clear Stereo--which honestly don't do much, but they do offer a little improvement.
The NWZ-S610 series comes in a variety of capacity/color combos. You can go with a 2GB ($120) S615 version in black, pink, red, or silver; a 4GB ($160) S616 model in the same choice of colors; or the more capacious 8GB S618, which comes only in black and will set you back $210.
Below the ample screen, the NWZ-S610 offers a similarly well-proportioned control pad. A central play/pause key is surrounded by four tactile directional arrows, which are used for skipping tracks and navigating menus. The front of the player also houses the ever-handy (yet ultratiny) back/home and power/option (contextual menu) buttons.
In general, the Walkman is a snap to use. This is in large part due to a lovely, icon-driven main menu on the device itself. Delving into the various content menus proffers different results, all of them straightforward and easy to navigate through. Within music, you can sort by album, artist, and so on--navigating by album is particularly nice as there's an option to do so by cover art. The photo menu offers a lovely 3x4 thumbnail grid, and videos are listed with their titles and a handy thumbnail still shot. It's a polished interface overall, and it makes browsing pleasant.
The Sony NWZ-S610 series offers various display settings. For example, you can flip the screen orientation in order to view photos and videos in landscape mode ("wide-screen")--a convenient feature. You can also choose to view full-screen album art while listening to music, rather than a thumbnail with song info on the playback screen.