I bought the Sony NWZ S618f 8gb after seeing it in a sale at the local argos, and decided I wasn't going to follow the crowd and buy an ipod. From this point of view, this mp3 player is perfect for all of your needs. It has easy to use buttons pads, a well position volume rock and hold system as well as having the headphone jack on the top as opposed to the apple ipod design on the bottom which always annoyed me. Its battery life is good, and in the two years i used it served me well for long car journeys and bike rides, almost hitting 11 hours in some points. The radio station feature was of little use to me, but worked well without an external aerial and found the major stations remarkably easily. The windows media player software synced well, allowing my whole library to be on their in minutes with all the artwork . The ability to play protected music for me was a waste of a selling point, as by the time i bought this DRM protected WMA was already going out the window but i guess it could of had its uses. All in all a fabulous ipod nano competitor and definitely a good buy for half the price. But it was not all so good, with the screen being small and unclear for long periods of video use and compared to the sleek nano would reflect the sun badly forcing me to drain the battery with the high brightness settings. Its chunky demeanour to me was affectionate, but the casing soon became loose as dust and dirt entered the screen eventually leading to its downfall in a small drop onto wooden flooring. A good player, but no ipod.
When looking at the NWZ-S618, you are filled with high hopes and the anticipation of its video playback capabilities. The player is a compact package that gives a sense of build quality and serious technological advancement.
The controls are placed conveniently on the bottom of the player, directly beneath the display screen. The buttons and controls are sensitive and comfortable to press. The well designed menu structure, makes it easy to control and get used to, especially during the task of finding individual tracks.
In order to transfer video files to the player, you must install the software supplied. Despite this small inconvenience, it is surprisingly easy to use the software. The quality of video playback is quite decent. However the display screen is still too small to be used to watch videos for long periods of time. The player supports audio files in the MP3, WMA, PCM, ACC and DRM file formats.
When using the supplied headphones, the sound is slightly disappointing due to the lack of power bass and treble that is inaccurate. Upon using an additional pair of headphones that had a higher power output, the sound felt more rich and had something of substance, especially with a good level of bass.
Its battery stamina is excellent, providing a good length of audio playback from a single charge.
In addition to the bog standard features, there are also additional functions such as radio capability, which works quite well
I just had this stolen =(, on the bright side for you that must means its nice right?
I have to admit this is one of my favorite mp3 players and I'm sorry to see it go =(. The menu functions are easy to understand composed of grids, lists and simple option clicks. loading music is as simple as drag and drop even on LINUX and Ubuntu linux at that! The device comes with software for music format conversion but no installation is required on windows or linux platforms (not tried on mac) in order to transfer music to and from the device. The player comes with several different equalizer modes built in which are fun to play around with but for the most part don't improve the sound quality very much. Sound wise the device with a good set of ear phones or in car stereo is crystal clear and perfeclty good for my finnish rock music ^_^ as well as pop music like tarta young (not that I had her on my mp3 of course, im far too manly for that :p).
The headphones on the other hand are, well, disposable? i.e. not brilliant quality, they fall apart after a while. The device itself on the other hand is nice and sturdy and lasted nearly a year before getting stolen with nothing more than a tiny scratch - for me this is very impressive as if you read my other posts you will know I am very hammer fisted.
The best thing about it is its style, size and smart shuffle feature making it great for long car journeys, training, and every day use. When you first by the device you may be surprised at how small it is, I was, but as soon as you get over that you will love it! The red version is stunning too (so stunning infact I paid an extra £20 just to have it in red instead of black)
- Introduction -
I needed a replacement for my old Creative Zen Xtra 30gb since it broke down last September and had been using my Sony PSP for some time as a temporary replacement. I found it a real headache looking for a replacement that would offer me what I wanted, which, in essence, was the following - around 10gb of flash based space, the ability to charge it from mains, the ability to replace the battery and a colour screen with the option of uploading and viewing pics on it.
Alas, I ended up realising that I was on a fruitless search! practically no MP3 players now come with a mains adapter and have replaceable batteries. However, I had heard good things about the Sony MP3 Walkman range and when a certain high street store offered the 8gb version at the same price as the 4gb one, I decided to go for it and I'm glad I did.
What are the basic things that it offers? If you just want to know the basic spec. of this model at a glance, then this is the info. for you. The Sony MP3 Walkman NWZ S618F offers the following:-
* A colour screen, 1.8 inches in size
* 8GB of portable solid state/flash memory for storing around 1,500 MP3 files (well, so they claim... see under downsides for more info. as far as the total memory size available is concerned!)
* MP3, .wav, .wma (including DRM protected .wma files - these are songs that you download with copyright protection on them, through services like Napster and MSN Music. DRM-free downloads are now starting to also be made legitimately available too though) playback for audio, also .jpeg/.jpg for graphics (picture) files and .mpeg4 for video files.
* FM Radio playback, with up to 30 presets available for storing your favourite radio stations (this is FM radio ie analogue not DAB digital, just to be clear about that and you can't record off radio onto MP3 or any other audio file, unfortunately (which some more expensive MP3 players will let you do))
* A great battery life of around 20 to 30 hours (online it states about 30 hours, though I think thats perhaps a little optimistic and would say around 20 to 25 hours is more realistic. Of course it depends on if you have the volume up high or if you watch nothing but videos, this will drain the battery quicker)
* The ability to quickly charge its battery by plugging it into a computer through USB via the cable provided with the unit. A full charge takes only a maximum of three hours, which I think isn't bad.
* Definite portability - its much smaller and lighter than I had presumed, I will admit that much!
But to go into more details...
- What do you get when you buy it? -
When I bought mine, this is what I got:-
* The unit itself ie the MP3 player
* A pair of bog standard Sony earphones (not horrendous quality but not particularly luxurious)
* USB lead for connecting the MP3 player to a computer, for transferring files and charging the battery
* A Quick Start Guide booklet, covering the basics of getting started, how to charge it for the first time, how to get and transfer data and play files on the unit etc.
* Other various rather boring little leaflets, such as precaution leaflets for the headphones (dont play music with the volume up high for too long, it could damage your hearing and will annoy others around you who could hear it lol and so on), a precautions leaflet about taking care of the unit and not sitting on it or having it near water etc and a booklet with information on the software and lastly *phew*, one with a warning to use Windows Media Player 11 for file transfer of video and AAC files (you get this on the supplied CDROM).
* A copy of the Sony European Guarantee Information Document
* A CD ROM with Windows Media Player 11, a converter program to convert atrac files (an old file type Sony used to use which their now phasing out I believe) to mp3. I thought this might also let you rip audio CD files to mp3 but nope, it seems to only be for atrac to mp3... but you can use Windows Media Player to rip audio CD files to mp3 so thats not a problem a full operation manual on .pdf, which you can of course copy to your computer to read/browse through whenever you wish.
- Is it easy to set up and use? -
In a word, yes! I simply connected it via USB to start charging it and it showed the usual battery icon indicating that it was charging, until a few hours later when the word 'full' was shown on the screen, thus indicating it was ready to be used! great! So, having already got a fair amount of MP3 files on my computer and knowing that it claims it can be used through basic drag and drop to transfer files, I highlighted my favourite music folders and copy and dragged them across to the units drive. This was easily found by going to 'my computer', where an icon that resembled the unit itself showed up, I think originally it said 'Sony Walkman', though now ive been able to give it a name, so whenever I plug it in it shows up under my computer as 'Isla's Walkman'. Anyway, so you simply select it and then select the relevant music folder and drag and drop folders into there. I would say that you'll want to check your files before you do this, as is true of basically any MP3 player, if your files don't have any tag information (ie. its just a file name, it doesn't have an artist name, no title information, no genre, release year or album information), then it'll be very hard to find the music you want, you really will need to put at least the bare minimum tag information there (which, to me, would be the artist name and the track title). On Vista, its easy enough, click on each file once and at the bottom of the window, you should see the tag information there, just click on the field (text box) you want to edit, enter the information you want it to say then click on save, or there are programs that will let you do this too im sure.
Anyway, like I say you can drag and drop files that way and they'll be transferred to your MP3 player. It will take a few minutes to transfer files, especially if you have quite a few gigabytes of them, like I did lol but it does work.
I then disconnected the unit and waited as it showed 'creating music library' and once it finished, I put the earphones on and started using the unit. It didn't take long to figure out how to use the arrow buttons and the menu to select the 'music library' option, then to select the way to find the music I wanted (you can search by album, song title, artist, genre, release year and so on) and I had all my music show up and started playing it pretty soon. The audio quality sounded good on the provided earphones and overall I was happy.
- What other useful options/features does it offer, that you've discovered? -
Well, it does have quite an impressive array of options for use with the music files. I like that it offers a good range of play mode and playback range options, as well as an equalizer, offering heavy, pop, jazz, unique and a couple of custom options. There's also VPT (surround sound) options, including the following settings - Studio, Live, Club, Arena, Matrix and Karaoke. These do improve the songs, where if you know a song is a live version, set it to live and it sounds more atmospheric and realistic, to some extent anyway. Its nice to have that option I think anyway. You can also view cover art on the basic 'now playing' music screen.
You also have the option of using 'intelligent shuffle', this gives you two choices - either shuffle all, in which case it could play any song out of all of the ones that are on the unit, or 'time machine shuffle', which will select songs that have the release year tag information and will select songs of a particular year to play. I realised that most of my files didn't have the release year information and so to use this function, I had to sit for hours and find out the release year and type it into the tags for most of my songs, it was kind of hard work! I wasn't much impressed when I transferred the files but they didn't work but I then discovered that it worked if I, instead of dragging and dropping the updated file through Windows Explorer, if I synched them to the device through Windows Media Player, it worked fine, so I'd suggest synching any files you update the tags for later, so you dont freak out if it doesnt seem to work through drag and drop!
There is, as well as this, an 'initial search' option on the main menu, so you can search for songs by artist, album or song, though I use the main 'music library' to search for songs, im not sure why you'd need this as such but its there anyway.
It does also have a playlists option on the main menu, though ill admit I can't comment on this, I haven't used it. I hear the playlist options are limited and I wouldn't buy it just for that, as I hear its not so good, so maybe ignore that function... but personally I don't bother with playlists myself anyway.
You also get some nice options/settings for photos. These include being able to change the orientation of photos (horizontal or vertical), slideshow settings (whether its repeated and what the interval between photos should be), as well as the ability to change the brightness and so on.
Options/settings for video files include - zoom settings, the ability to change the video orientation, detailed information about each video file, the ability to change the brightness setting and the option to play the video from the beginning (if it was part way through and you just wanted to start it from the beginning again, obviously).
When you first go in to 'Video library', where all videos are stored, you'll see a thumbnail icon to represent the video, along with the file name and the length of the video file.
As previously mentioned, it offers 30 presets and it also has settings for scan sensitivity and mono/auto. I think you need a good set of ear or head phones for this, as it uses them as the antenna equivalent... also the reception is good enough, about what you'd expect for analogue FM (it can get distorted/fuzzy as you walk around, as it would if you walked around with a real radio) and I dont listen to the radio much, so it doesn't bother me. I really only want the device for MP3 playback but you can get it to work well enough to listen to basic FM radio playback, saving your favourite stations through presets, so the capability is there.
- Anything else? -
Simply go to the suitcase icon on the main menu ie the 'settings' option and yup, you'll find access to all the settings for each file type and for others such as common settings (such as unit information, set date and time, beep settings and so on) and language settings too, its pretty common sense stuff.
- Are the buttons and screens at all intuitive or will it take ages to learn how to use? -
This is why im so impressed with this unit, to be honest. Once you have the files you want on there and you have an hour or two to spare, really I didn't feel like I needed the manual to explain to me how to find and play files and what the different options meant. I found I quite quickly took to the controls and was able to go from screen to screen, searching, finding and playing what I wanted. If your a real technophobe, it may take a while but I feel that it has been done well, the main menu is very self explanatory and you should be able to get used to it and use it pretty quickly.
I had forgotten that it has the option of using photos and videos until last week (I keep thinking of my old MP3 player which didnt have any of that functionality), when I realised I could put my recent Backstreet Boys soundcheck and concert photos there and I have to say, I didn't need to look at the manual at all, it was all quick and easy to transfer the files and view them on the unit, im pleased with that. Videos I haven't really used but it says you can transfer them through synching on Windows Media Player. I bought it primarily for the audio playback though.
- Any Downsides? -
Well, as I already mentioned, I edited tag information for many MP3 files and then deleted them off the unit and drag and dropped them onto it again through Windows Explorer, only to find that the tag information hadn't made it onto the unit! *sigh* so I wasn't best chuffed, as we'd say... however, all I had to do was to synch the files through WMP (Windows Media Player) instead of drag and dropping the files and it worked first time, so that was a relief! perhaps if your too worried of spending a long time using drag and drop, you'd be better just synching everything with WMP instead, to be on the safe side... ive had no problems doing that.
I'm still a bit grumpy that you don't get a mains adapter with the unit, I think its a bit bad that they expect you to pay extra for this, I mean yeah its a portable media player but how is it really portable, if after the usual 20 hours or so of use, you have to charge it and you must have access to a computer to do that? im thinking of when I go on holiday for a week or two, I don't have access to a computer of my own then, I like to get away from computers for a while lol, so a mains adapter would be good, so I can charge the unit from any normal wall socket. However, you can indeed purchase one through Sony at an extra cost (around the £20 mark, which is a bit ouch if you ask me! but thats just my view, ill have to pay it, im going to Malta next month for two weeks and want to listen to my music whenever I like). Another thing I would have expected to get, although again practically none of the current lot of MP3 players on the market seem to come with these, is a carrying case or protective case of some sorts. Again, you can buy these, on Ebay or Amazon or direct from Sony for more, I bought a Crystal case that encompasses the screen and the back of the unit to help prevent it from getting too scratched. My dad managed to find a lanyard thing to connect to it so I can have it hanging from my neck, I was worried otherwise I would drop it, my old Creative MP3 player came with a carrying case that had a belt clip, that I found very useful, so I use the lanyard thing to make it hands free instead, thanks to my dad lol I wouldn't have wanted to pay £10-£20 for an official version of that! they must get alot of money from people wanting such fairly basic accessories *tch*. Also, again as goes for nearly all MP3 players, the battery isn't replaceable but oh well, I shall buy a new one in 2-3 years anyway, most likely... they are getting cheaper and it says that the battery should be good for around 500 charges, which isn't too bad. Considering the battery life is very good, it shouldn't require to be charged too often and thus it should last longer and shouldn't need replacing too soon, so its not so bad, thats the way I think of it anyway. I gave up finding an MP3 player with a replaceable battery that also offered the other things I wanted.
Also and this again is a general thing, on most devices that are advertised in catalogues or wherever, they'll state the unit has a certain size capacity, like 1gb, 2gb, 4gb or 8gb or whatever, whether that be an MP3 player, a laptop computer or whatever.
However, I think its a little cheeky that they state this but you always end up getting access to less memory in essence as they don't include the space used to install the operating system (ie the menus and other screens you see to navigate through the device) there, so basically you get less space to save files onto it. Now I like to make it clear what you actually get and in this case, although its sold as an 8gb model, on Windows Explorer it says that its total space is 7.30gb, so thats the most you have to play with, to put audio, graphic and video file formats on.
I feel I should also point out that the unit will automatically start up if something knocks it even slightly, even if you shut it down fully (by holding the 'option' button down for 5 seconds). Its simple enough to get around this, though, simply put the hold button/option to 'on' and then switch the power off but if your in a rush or something you could forget this and end up with the battery being accidentally drained if its switched on by accident in a handbag or backpack or something, which may be a downside for some! just be careful and remember to put hold on before switching it off and it should be ok.
- Overall, is this worth bothering with or should I look elsewhere? -
Very much so! I'm glad I took the time to research what I wanted, some people I know had different models of other Sony MP3 walkmans and they are all happy with theirs and I am now happy with mine. Ok its not perfect but I don't think any MP3 player is quite perfect, yet this offers quite a wide range of features, with good audio quality playback and good battery life for a very reasonable price, in my opinion. I also particularly like how quickly and easily I learnt to navigate the menus/screens and I don't have to refer to the manual very often, if at all, which has to be a good thing! I haven't used it all the settings or everything on it yet but I think most people should or would buy this primarily for the audio/MP3 playback and it does that well, with plenty of audio settings and options and good audio playback quality with the provided earphones.
If this sounds like something that offers what your looking for, I would recommend this. Its not entirely perfect but overall I am very impressed with it, I think its a good compact device that looks pretty good, it isn't overly cheap and plastic looking and it offers alot for a fairly decent price, so all that with the Sony name on it, you can't really go wrong.
I hope this review helps you with your purchasing decision, I'm really needing a bit of extra cash at the moment lol so all ratings are very much appreciated! thanks for reading my review and if I've missed anything out, I will edit this review.
As ever, this review is also posted on Ciao! UK under my name there, which is the same name, IzzyS.