Sony Walkman NWZ-E443
Sony's Walkman 4GB NWZ-E443 portable music player looks striking thanks to its slender, shiny red metal and black plastic design.
Using the included earphones, music sounded bright and harsh, although the bass wasn't as loud as we'd like. Vocals were clear and there was no distortion when we boosted the bass using the equaliser. Music sounded far clearer and more detailed using a better set of earphones. Audio playback lasted for more than 26-and-a-half hours, more than even the longest flight.
Browsing through long lists of music is simple since the left and right buttons can be used to skip quickly and easily through the list alphabetically. When playing music, pressing the Option button gives quick access to playback settings such as the equaliser. Oddly, long track, artist or album names are cut off instead of scrolling to show the full title. If you tire of your own music, you can use the built-in FM radio, which sounded clear and static-free when used in our central London offices.
We were less impressed with the E443's video playback. We could only get it to play videos encoded using a very specific H.264 profile with a resolution of 320x240 pixels and a jerky frame rate of 15fps. Annoyingly, Sony's included video-conversion software sometimes failed to work for no apparent reason.
Although the screen is very bright, its small 2in size and graininess means it's not ideal for watching long videos anyway. If you do want to watch video, you can expect its battery to last four hours and 39 minutes, which isn't too bad, but other players here can last more than twice as long. There's no orientation sensor, so if you want to watch video with the screen horizontal rather than vertical you'll have to set this preference manually.
Sony's Walkman NWZ-E443 is a good-value MP3 player thanks to its decent audio quality, respectably long battery life and low price. Its video support is poor, but it's a great choice for audio.