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Sony Walkman NWZ-S544 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 110
inc VAT

Sony's 8GB Walkman NWZ-S544 is a good MP3 player, but it's not a big improvement over the cheaper NWZ-E443.

Sony’s Walkman NWZ-S544 looks and feels classy thanks to its shiny red metal design.

It has a slightly bigger screen than the NWZ-E443 and built-in speakers, which are activated using a dedicated switch. As expected, they sound weedy and distort easily.

Vocals sound clear on the included earphones, but audio quality is otherwise disappointing. Instruments are bright and harsh, with not enough bass, but there was no distortion when we boosted the bass using the equaliser. Audio quality improved dramatically with a third-party set of earphones, although the bass still wasn’t as thumping as we’d like.

The battery lasted an impressive 30 hours and 38 minutes when playing music. Browsing for tracks is easy thanks to the logical menus and the ability to navigate quickly through long lists of tracks alphabetically. The option button gives easy access to the equaliser and playback modes, including shuffle and repeat. If you tire of your own music there’s a built-in FM receiver, which sounded reasonably clear when used in our central London offices.

This Walkman, like all the others we’ve seen recently, is very picky about the video files it will play. The only videos we could get it to play consistently were H.264 files encoded in a very specific way at a resolution of 320×240 pixels at a jerky 15fps. Videos looked very bright, but also quite grainy, on the 2.4in screen. If you want to watch films on the S544, you can expect its battery to last for just over four-and-a-half hours.

If the NWZ-S544 appears similar to the cheaper NWZ-E443, that’s because it is. Setting aside the awful integrated speakers and a slightly larger screen, the only meaningful advantage the S544 has over the E443 is that it has 8GB of storage instead of 4GB. IRiver’s E200 8GB is a better choice if you want decent movie playback. If you want more music storage, however, Apple’s 16GB iPod Nano is better value, with double the storage capacity for only £25 more than the S544 costs.

Details

Price £110
Rating ***
Headphone Rating **

Hardware

Capacity 8.00GB
Formatted capacity 7.21GB
Interface USB
Storage medium flash memory
Battery and charge options Li-ion, USB
Size 49x10x98mm
Weight 66g

Features

Device has screen? Yes
Viewable size 2.4 in
Native resolution 240×320
Memory card support none
FM Radio yes
Audio record options microphone, radio
Video record options none
Supplied with headphones, USB adaptor, dock adapter

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 30h 38m
Tested battery life (Video playback) 4h 39m
500MB transfer time 3m 47s
Audio MP3 playback Yes
Audio WMA playback Yes
Audio WMA-DRM playback Yes
Audio AAC playback Yes
Audio Protected AAC playback No
Audio OGG playback No
Audio WAV playback No
Audio Audible playback No
Image BMP support No
Image JPEG support Yes
Image TIFF support No
Video MPEG-4 AVI playback Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playback Yes
Video WMV playback Yes
Video MPEG-1 playback No
Video MPEG-2 playback No
Video MPEG-2 VOB playback No
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD support Yes
Video H.264 support Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio support Yes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio support Yes
Download compatibility WMA-DRM subscription and download

Buying Information

Price per MB 1.3p
Warranty one year RTB
Supplier http://www.play.com
Details www.sony.co.uk

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