The Sony E-Series has a fairly standard design, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it makes the player very straightforward to operate. Below the 2-inch screen are the main playback controls: a five-way control pad, a back/home button, and an option key that brings up various contextual menus.
The menus on the E-Series are typical of most recent Walkman lines. The main menu features a grid of icons that indicate the player's principle functions. Sadly, there's no option to change the wallpaper or theme for this Walkman: white font on a black background is what you get.
Compared to the iPod Nano, the Sony E-Series Walkman is just as easy to use, offers a similar array of features, and delivers great sound quality--but it costs less. Unfortunately, the player doesn't come in a 16GB model, but the 4GB and 8GB versions are priced to sell at $89.95 and $119.95, respectively.
The E-Series Walkman includes a decent smattering of features (FM radio, Rhapsody DNA, photo and video support), but lacks a decent podcast-management feature. Performance of the E-Series Walkman is nearly excellent across the board. Music sounds exceptionally clean, clear, and balanced, and the rated battery life of 45 hours for audio and 8 for video is stellar.
The E-Series measures a compact 3.2 inches tall by 1.7 inches wide by 0.3 inch deep, so it's definitely pocket-friendly and would not be an unreasonable thing to strap to your arm or waistband at the gym. And it comes in a variety of colors to suit most tastes: black, red, pink, or blue (4GB only).