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Sony Walkman NWZ-S544 review

Alan Lu
13 Nov 2009
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.

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Specifications

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 320x240 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

Capacity8.00GB
Formatted capacity7.21GB
InterfaceUSB
Storage mediumflash memory
Battery and charge optionsLi-ion, USB
Size49x10x98mm
Weight66g

Features

Device has screen?Yes
Viewable size2.4 in
Native resolution240x320
Memory card supportnone
FM Radioyes
Audio record optionsmicrophone, radio
Video record optionsnone
Supplied withheadphones, USB adaptor, dock adapter

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback)30h 38m
Tested battery life (Video playback)4h 39m
500MB transfer time3m 47s
Audio MP3 playbackYes
Audio WMA playbackYes
Audio WMA-DRM playbackYes
Audio AAC playbackYes
Audio Protected AAC playbackNo
Audio OGG playbackNo
Audio WAV playbackNo
Audio Audible playbackNo
Image BMP supportNo
Image JPEG supportYes
Image TIFF supportNo
Video MPEG-4 AVI playbackYes
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playbackYes
Video WMV playbackYes
Video MPEG-1 playbackNo
Video MPEG-2 playbackNo
Video MPEG-2 VOB playbackNo
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD supportYes
Video H.264 supportYes
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio supportYes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio supportYes
Download compatibilityWMA-DRM subscription and download

Buying Information

Price per MB1.3p
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.play.com
Detailswww.sony.co.uk

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