Product Type: Sony MP3 players
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Sony Memory Stick Walkman
Sony Memory Stick Walkman NW-MS7 64 MB
Member Name: ryanbritto
Sony Memory Stick Walkman NW-MS7 64 MB
Date: 18/11/00, updated on 18/11/00 (1427 review reads)
Advantages: sound quality
I bought the Sony Memory Stick Walkman after about 12 months of 'umming' and 'ahhing' over various makes, models and prices of MP3 players.
Most of the MP3 players were either dull grey rectangles with a few plastic silver buttons, or very flashy and very expensive. Common features of all MP3 players I came across were that
a) they weren't very well designed with the buttons in all the wrong places
b) they were built terribly, out of creaky, thin plastics with little hard plastic buttons or were built of machined metal that scratched when it was put down, and again had hard plastic buttons.
I then came across the Sony NW-MS7 Memory Stick Walkman, which I'd seen in a few tech magazines and which I thought was only available as import from Japan. OK I thought, let's have a look.
From the moment I picked it up, it felt right, with all the buttons in easily accessible places when in my hand, and a nifty and solidly built jog wheel for fast forward/rewind. The build quality of the unit was excellent, with a proper mechanism for taking the Memory Stick into the player rather than just forcing it into a thin slot.
The design was very nice compared to the MP3 players I'd seen, and looked even better than most MiniDisc and CD players, with a rainbow-reflective blue panel set into the silver plastic shell.
I then found out that the player was not completely MP3 compatible, and that MP3s had to be converted, encoded and duplicated in a new format. I didn't take this to be much of a problem, as I knew that Sony had made the player SDMI compatible, which means that downloaded music should only play a few time before expiring.
The price tag of almost £300 was very steep for a portable music player, but considering that I'd seen MP3 players up to £200 from manufacturers I'd never heard of, the extra £100 seemed well spent on the high-specced and more importantly,
well-built, MS Walkman, which came complete with USB cable, docking station, charger, carry pouch, earphones + extension cable and a 64MB Memory Stick.
First thing after getting it home was to install the software. This didn't autorun as suggested in the manual, and a bit of digging into folders on the CD was required, which may trip people up first time. Other niggles with the software included that it is only available in English, which seemed a bit of a oversight by Sony, although a translation is apparently available in foreign manuals; and that the software is only compatible with Windows 98, and it refused to work on my main Windows 2000 machine.
Those niggles aside, once the software was installed it ran nicely and was very graphically pleasing, showing that Sony had probably put some effort into the software. Nice touches such as the software auto-running when the player is plugged in makes the software 'feel' good.
The conversion between MP3 and Sony's format, ATRAC3 (as used on MiniDiscs) is painless if a tad slow, but providing you only convert the songs you'll listen to you can leave the computer converting overnight and then the songs are ready. The uploading/downloading time to transfer a song seems reasonably fast, but with nothing to test it against I couldn't compare it.
I quickly bunged some songs (at 105kbps quality) onto the player and pulled out the earphones and immediately thought the sound was very tinny. 'Here we go - £300 wasted' was my first thought, but a quick delve into the menus brought up the BASS control, and once set to level 2 the sound quality was remarkable for the 'middle' quality setting, and I could hear no 'pinking' or 'crashing' which I find MP3s often produce when played on a computer.
Playing about with the player found a multitude of functions, such as fast/slow fast forward and rewind, a track selection menu and all
sorts of display options.
The only problems I have found so far are that the Repeat function seems to turn itself off when the songs on the stick are added to/removed from. I also thin
k Sony should have added some kind of wrist strap with it, as it is very small and a strap would be useful for fishing the player out of the pouch.
All in all, I've very pleased with the MS Walkman, and although I had wondered about how the SDMI compliance would affect the way I use the player, but for my personal use it's great, although I could see it restricting people who want to use the player to share songs with friends.
I would suggest buying the MS Walkman if you want quality, a reputable name with the support + backup, great design, ease of use and if you've got the cash and the hard disk space to store the ATRAC3 files.
Don't buy it if you want to use it to swap songs, or would rather save the money and buy a cheaper, more compatible but more fragile standard MP3 player.