Sony NWZ-S610 review: Sony NWZ-S610

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The Good The Sony NWZ-S610 series features a compact design with a high-quality feel and an ample screen. The user interface is intuitive, and there are plenty of features to choose from, such as an FM radio and photo and video playback. No more awful SonicStage software: this Walkman is a PlaysForSure device supporting subscription tracks as well as unprotected WMA, MP3, and even AAC files. The player offers good sound quality and an excellent rated battery life.

The Bad The Sony NWZ-S610 series doesn't offer any exceptional new technology, and there are cheaper competitors that offer the same features.

The Bottom Line The Sony NWZ-S610 series Walkman doesn't bring anything striking or new to the table, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a quality MP3 player with nice extras and a killer battery life. Plus, Sony got rid of SonicStage--the best news ever.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

Hallelujah! Sony has done away with its horrible SonicStage software and is opting to go the PlaysForSure route with all of its new Walkman players. Yes, that's not the most traditional way to start a review, but we couldn't bear to place this most exciting tidbit anywhere but at the top, so there you have it. The death of SonicStage comes wrapped up in two nice new MP3 players, the NWZ-A810 and the NWZ-S610, a series of compact flash players that is the subject of this review. Of course, an improved software relationship isn't the only thing this device has going for it. While it doesn't bring anything new to the table in the scheme of MP3 players, the NWZ-S610 is a quality device with desirable extras and an excellent rated battery life.

Simple, sleek, and understated
The newest series of Walkmans comes in a variety of capacity/color combos. You can go with a 2GB ($120) S-615 version in black, pink, red, or silver; a 4GB ($160) S-616 model in the same choice of colors; or the more capacious 8GB S-618, which comes only in black and will set you back $210. 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. It's also a little larger overall, measuring 3.1 inches by 1.6 inches by 0.4 inch, though whether this is a good or bad thing depends on the user. It's certainly pocket-friendly.

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. Happily, volume is handled via a dedicated rocker on the right spine of the device. The front of the player also houses the ever-handy back/home and power/option (contextual menu) buttons. A hold switch can be found on the left edge of the device, while the top and bottom contain the standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and proprietary USB port, respectively.

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