The Good The Sony S-Series Walkman is very inexpensive and easy to use; it offers support for multiple audio codecs as well as subscription music and Amazon video; photos and videos look great on the big, bright screen; audio quality is superb and the rated battery life is impressive; the unit features external speakers and an alarm clock function; the FM tuner and voice recorder work excellently.
The Bad The Sony S-Series Walkman no longer offers noise cancellation or upgraded headphones; there's no podcast support, SenseMe Channels, or on-the-go playlists; getting video onto the device can be a hassle.
The Bottom Line The Sony S-Series Walkman is a solid entry-level MP3 player thanks to its ultra-affordable price tag, easy-to-use design, excellent performance, and fair smattering of features--but those who are looking to upgrade from the previous generation will not be impressed.
Sony S-Series Walkman second generation
Sony had a major success with the launch of the S-Series Walkman in the fall of 2008. The company stepped up with a sleek and compact device that offered a bounty of useful features along with stellar sound quality and fantastic battery life. As might be expected, when it came time for a second-gen model, we waited with bated breath, expecting something equally impressive or perhaps even somewhat improved. Unfortunately, the exhalation of said breath has emerged as a disappointed sigh. Although the second-generation S-Series Walkman still offers top-notch audio and excellent rated battery life, Sony has hobbled the player by crippling its feature set. The upshot is that this was done in the name of rock-bottom pricing, which makes the S-Series one of the cheapest flash players on the market: you can pick up an 8GB model for $110 and a 16GB for just $130. This--combined with its excellent sound quality and battery life--is the player's saving grace.
Design and interface
For better or for worse, the second-gen S-Series Walkman is noticeably larger than its predecessor. The nice thing about this is it allows for a larger, more video-friendly screen, and the 2.4-inch QVGA LCD is every bit as crisp, colorful, and bright as before. The bigger chassis also allows for a pair of integrated external speakers that flank both sides of the display and pass through to ports on the back of the device for more air flow (something that generally equates to better sound quality). Of course, this means that the new S-Series is not quite as pocket-friendly as the previous iteration, measuring nearly 4 inches long and 2 inches across, though it is only a fraction thicker at 0.4 inch. Also, because of the speaker placement, the player strongly resembles a cell phone, a fact that may or may not deter some users.
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