Two years ago I made the mistake of buying a Goodmans personal CD player. I should have trusted my instincts because it lasted a year and a couple of weeks and there was no way of taking it back to Argos when it only had a one year guarantee on it. What I was looking for was simplicity of a personal CD player that had at least one bass boost function and a Jog control which wouldnt allow CDs to jump or skip if there was the slightest knock. The Goodmans however had the worst sound quality and its Jog memory kept wasting the batteries. So, I was looking initially for a higher quality name and having had my Sony Walkman personal stereo still going strong which Ive had for a number of years, the logical choice was either Sony or Panasonic, of which I have owned a stereo from this company too.
As much as I would have loved to get an MP3 player I dont spend enough time on the internet to download songs and neither do I like the idea of MP3s even if they do hold a lot more songs than your standard compact disc.
~~ The Price & High Street Product Availability ~~
This product the Sony DE J119 CD player has only been on the shelves at Argos and Index for the last year since respective catalogues came out. At the time both store outlets sold this CD player at the same price and nothing seems to have changed at either outlet. I bought mine from Index (sadly it is no more) since the local Argos store didnt have any of these models in stock at the time of purchase. Across the board way back in 2005 this Sony CD Walkman cost in the region of £30 whilst Currys and Comet had it for £5 more.
~~ What Comes In the Box/Package ~~
Unlike other offerings made by Sony, this CD player came in a plastic Perspex sleeve which has to be cut into as it has been bonded together. Be careful cutting into this plastic as it resoundingly tough so as not to get any damage either at the shop or in transit. A fold out paper manual is supplied which has been written in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Annoyingly enough, this unit for the U.K market does not come with any additional remote controls, although there are two shown in the manual. Sony is stingy in not providing anything other than in ear headphones for the U.K market. They are also stingy in not providing a mains adaptor even though the unit itself has a suitable socket for mains power option. For the price of £30 Id say both these inclusions would have hit the nail, as it were on the ears as well as the wallet. Still there are other features that are well worth the price.
~~ Nars Quick Skip Review Product Features ~~
Compact Disc Digital Audio System
Adaptor point (4.5V but Not supplied)
64 Track programmable
G Protection Jog Proof
Powered by 2 AA batteries
Digital Mega Bass
In ear headphones included
CD/CD-R/CDRW playback compatible
50 hours playback / 45 hours with G Proof off.
Size: (H) 14cm, (W) 13cm (D) 2cm.
~~ Using It ~~
Firstly, the batteries are not located underneath like a personal stereo but inside where you put the disc and the cover to get to this has a handy area where you can slide your finger across to release the battery cover. This player only takes 2 AA batteries and the manual suggests only using LR6/AA standard dry batteries.
The mains adaptor will have to be bought optionally from Sony (AC-E45HG) and this does not automatically mean that putting in stale rechargeable batteries in the unit will be recharged the moment you add mains power to it. This unit does not charge rechargeable batteries. It simply doesnt have that capability, sadly.
After that, put a disc in and close the lid. The lock on the main lid is suitably made with longevity in mind. It is not like my Goodmans, whose lock was quite feeble by comparison. Almost immediately the CD player starts to whirr away silently and the LCD screen, which is, I would say average to look at, starts to flash up with the track number and the time taken. You can of course get rid of this option, so that the tracks only remain viewable on the LCD screen. Icons on the LCD panel are averagely displayed but they are suitably darkened and typeset in capitals are easier to view from a distance than my Goodmans.
To ensure nothing changes during use, like accidentally brushing past a FF button or the play button, a slider hold switch can be found on the rear of the CD player. This has been added with grip dots on it so that you can locate it easily with your finger and activate. The ONLY annoying aspect I find with this HOLD button is that once it has been activated you cant lower or heighten the sound level.
* The Controls *
Located in the middle of the top cover is a circle coloured in silver. This is the main controls, such as Play, Rewind, Fast Forward and Stop. Although they havent been colour coded, the Play button in particular sits at South, whilst the stop button sits at North, FF at West, Rewind at East. As such using the machine for the first time is very easy and it doesnt take too long to get used to it either. There is a tactile dot just below the play button which I can testify is handy to know about when it comes to using the machine in the dark!
Thereafter you have a series of three other buttons but they are not viewable unless you look at that centre circle. Located around the rim of this circle is an outer white Perspex ring which sits flush. At one side youll see Display/Menu Across from this, P Mode and lastly near it on the other side of the circle, Sound.
* Display/Menu *
By pressing this once, or three times, you can display the track number and the remaining time of the current track you have selected to listen to.
By pressing twice you get the whole duration time of the CD itself.
By pressing three times, you get the track number and the elapsed time as the start but you also get the MENU selection too.
* P Mode *
This is in effect the play and repeat mode which means when a track is playing you can select to repeat that one track or repeat the whole CD itself. You can also select Shuffle, PGM which means programming your own selection and an interesting new gimmick called Bookmark.
The Bookmark feature is applicable up to 99 tracks for each CD and once this is programmed it will take every new CD (up to 5 in succession) and add the bookmarks you have saved on other CDs that were used initially. Confused? Well, I was initially by this as it sounds to me like another mode of the PGM mode, but its not. Whereas in PGM mode you can select the tracks you want to hear and save it, the bookmarks apply to not just that CD you have selected. The bookmarks will then pre-select the order you have asked the unit to save. This means that it wont play the order you have asked it to do, for example, track 1, 5, 3 and 7. It will instead, play tracks 1, 3, 5 and 7 in order.
In effect it means that this is a programme mode that is kept in memory. To start the use of bookmarks, you need to be listening to a track in order for this to take place. Press and hold the play button down until a little bookmark icon shows up in the LCD screen. Id like to point out that although it looks like a tiny little bookmark, this little icon that flashes up is more close to the look of a mobile phone! In any case, when the track has been added, the flashing bookmark will slow down its flashes. And then if there are other tracks that you want on the same CD album, you simply repeat this process.
When you want to listen to nothing but bookmarked tracks, you press the P Mode until an arrow turns up, or these days as it is commonly known as, the repeat arrow that can be found on many CD players, not just personal ones that have LCD displays.
After that, hit the play button and the bookmark icon pops up on the LCD screen again.
Removing Bookmarks are easy as all you do is hold down the play button until the bookmark disappears from the display.
** Removing Bookmarks Altogether **
By removing the batteries or the main power source, this erases the memory and you can start again or not even bother with the Bookmark method. I have already used this on many CD singles that I carry around with me and I am beginning to see the benefits of it, even though initially I was confused about this feature. Is it worthwhile? Well, it can be if for example you burn your own CDs and you have a number of tracks you dont really want to listen to. The downside is that tracks you want to hear on other albums wont be played as the unit takes the memory saved on that first initial CD you programmed the Bookmark feature on!
* PGM Play *
Thankfully, the P Mode is easy to use when it comes to programming your favourite tracks to play. Press the P mode until PGM appear in the LCD display. Press either then FF or Rew buttons to select the tracks and to enter hold down the play button until the playing order increases by one. 00 appears for example and this increases by one track until you have programmed it to your wishes. To put the tracks in order for your own preference you have to repeat the same procedure again and then press play for the new created list to begin playing.
Located around the rim of the whole player is the socket for the headphones that come supplied with the player. Then theres the lock mechanism which can be flicked to open the main lid; then a push button volume control as opposed to older dials which have since been replaced with buttons for more precision and finally, the mains power socket, optional if you want to power the unit with electricity from the mains.
~~ Any Other Features? ~~
This unit has something called G-Protection function. Basically it means that there is Jog Proof added to this unit. Now my Goodmans also had a Jog Proof button but it used to take ages for the unit to initiate the Jog Proof feature and when it did, it also took away volume and bass with it! Here, this player doesnt do that. Instead it only adjusts the volume a little so that the G Protection Jog Proof can work effectively, particularly if the batteries used are low in power or middling. With new batteries, the addition of the G Protection goes unnoticed apart from the obvious fact that the word G Protection pops up in the LCD display. There is also a battery indicator which shows 4 bars of battery power and adjusts accordingly when the Mega Bass is activated.
This unit has Sonys patented AVLS (Automatic Volume Level System) which predetermines the battery power strength and changes the volume. AVLS pops up in the LCD screen if for example there is less power in the batteries available or when you press and hold down the Sound button.
Another function is the Timer function. This allows you to set the CD player to stop play black automatically within a range of 5 to 95 minute intervals. When the Cd is playing and the timer has been activated, the track number flashes on the display. To anyone who is reading and feels like they have heard this before, it is almost like a Sleep/Snooze function on a digital clock radio etc.
A Beep function comes on whenever you press a button on the CD player itself. Over time I have started to forget this little beep even though when I first starting to use this player, I did find it annoying. By pressing the Display/Menu function when nothing is getting played on the machine, t-Set appears. The timer can actually be used either in playback of a CD or when the machine hasnt been asked to play anything.
You then have 15 seconds to select an operation or task for the machine to do. Menu 1 can be selected by scrolling down the menu items using the FF and Rew buttons. Press the play button to activate Menu 2 which then allows you set the Timer (t-SEt) to either 5 or 95 minutes; the G protection (SEt) on or off and finally, the Beep sound (bEEP) to on or off. I rather like the additional Beep function as it comes into its own once the batteries start to lose power.
The unit can also be programmed to play up to 64 tracks but try 65 and youll end up erasing everything in memory!
~~ Any Surprises? ~~
The G Protection feature is much better than my Goodmans ever was! I have to say that Im aware that Sony led the market when it came to Jog Proof features and this unit carries that same sense of trust. Whereas other jog proof systems tend to sap battery power, I have noticed on most occasions that the jog proof system doesnt sap any battery power and that its the bass function that actually takes away most of the battery power as does the volume depending on how loud you have it!!
The in ear headphones that are supplied arent the cheapest offerings made by Sony as they allow the levels of the bass and no bass to be heard quite finely. Ive also noticed in public that these headphones rarely allow sound to leak but then I have never tried to damage my ear drums by allowing the volume to go all the way to maximum.
The LCD display is not illuminated but then it doesnt have to be for the graphics are darkened somewhat which I think is easy on the eye. Sometimes however the LCD screen can get too busy with lots of initials and things flashing, so its up to you, the owner what you have programmed or asked the player to do and reveal. The volume in particular has many strands before it reaches its next number of level in the display and then disappears until the volume buttons are depressed again.
~~ The Quality of Playback, and Performance ~~
Playback and Performance has a lot to do with the types of CDs that this unit can cope with. It can play manufactured CDs as well as play CD-R, CD-RW type CDs. This unit is not alone in being able to play most CD types, but I have not been able to tell much of a difference in the sound quality between tracks that have been home grown burnt on CD RW and CD R compact discs and manufactured CD albums.
I am impressed largely then with the sound quality of the player. It isnt mind bending or overly outstanding. If you want Dolby and other features such as Panasonics preset sounds then you can of course consider other makes and other models.
Battery life and power therefore has an average of 50 hours with the G Protection feature activated and 45 hours when it is not switched on.
Infact another surprise is the Digital Mega Bass function because for this price I would only have expected a simple on and off switch or button to activate and deactivate bass. But no, instead Sony have actually added two levels of bass which gives off a much rounder sound, similar to a sound as if tweeters and speakers were in your ears at the same time. Currently I have the bass selection on 1 which allows me to get a fine balance between a middling tone and middling bass. At times with other genres of music, particularly classical the first level of bass is more than sufficient. Bass is not needed sometimes when I listen to Jazz, so in effect with the two levels of bass that can be selected, there are three modes available. A banner showing two full bars or just one bar allows you to see what bass level you have actioned, and if you dont want any at all, the banner simply disappears. Simple!
~~ Product Conclusion ~~
In terms of a compact and good looking personal CD player that does its job without much fuss, here is one model to consider. For me it was the amount of power that I was looking for, not just out of the batteries but also performance wise too. Im aware that the Panasonic model I looked at had 5 or 10 hours less capability on its power. I was also looking for a unit which had a mains cord socket on it so that I could use it in a more permanent way than just travelling with it all the time.
And for two years my Sony still shines with excellent performance; it is still being used as opposed to my cheap Mp3 player and in many respects although an Mp3 player may well be more compact, I still prefer reaching for my CDs at home when my laptop isnt on or at home. There is a fine balance to what this personal CD Walkman can do in terms of feature and capability. Thank you for reading. ©Nar2 2007.
SONY helpline: 08705 111 999.