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Sony NWZ-S616F Walkman Video MP3 Player
As portable music players get smaller and smaller, manufacturers are paradoxically trying to incorporate as many features into them as possible. The big question is: can they sustain all the functionality and still offer the quality you’d expect for the price? A good example that will help us answer that question is the Sony NWZ-S616F Walkman Video MP3 Player.
When it comes to the design of a music player, personally I’ll admit I’m a stickler for style. But looks aren’t everything. The Sony NWZ-S616F is quite a neat looking device with a superbly clear 1.8 inch QVGA display sporting a 240 x 320 pixel resolution. It has a 3.5mm earphone socket on the top of the player, a hold switch for the keypad on one side, and volume controls on the other. For charging and PC connectivity Sony uses a proprietary connector located at the bottom.
What I liked most abut the 616F is the simplicity in the navigation controls. A single button for returning to a previous menu, a sub-menu key for accessing additional features in different modes, and a five-way nav-pad that's large enough for my fat fingers to use with ease. It’s also quite a slim player at about 11mm and weighs a measly 50 grams. Users will have no problem carrying this baby around.
The NWZ-S616F is quite the little do-it-all PMP. From video to radio and images and a load of music-centric options, it's guaranteed to make your music experience more interesting. To start off, the interface and menus are large and clear, and the navigation is as smooth as a hot knife though butter. Feature-wise the 616F has a JPEG or image viewer, and with the resolution it has, the images look brilliant. Users have the option of viewing the images in a slideshow format, but that’s nothing new. It’s compatible with DCF 2.0/Exif 2.2 file formats.
The FM radio reception is really quite good. In Auto Preset mode, depending on the scan sensitivity you opt for, it takes the 616F no more than 15-20 seconds to locate and save all the available channels. Of course, you can’t expect crystal-clear reception while commuting, but in most places you’ll have no issues whatsoever.
Here’s where I have a tiny problem with the 616F: its video player. Don’t get me wrong, playback is clear and smooth as it’s compatible with MPEG 4 or M4V profiles at 30 frames per second. Firstly, Sony doesn’t provide you with a bundled video converter which would have made things so much more convenient, and secondly, it’s not easy to watch a full length video (even a 20-minute TV serial) on such a small screen. Even with its clarity, it tends to take a toll on your eyes after 10 minutes or so.
Of course, you can always download a converter. There's no shortage of these online and they let you watch short clips – including those you may have captured with your phone cam. I don’t recommend using the 616F for viewing widescreen videos. If you stretch them to 4:3 they look a bit... stretched. But only a little bit. If their 16:9 ratio is retained you’ll end up with a tiny image and black bands on the display. (As if it wasn’t small enough already!)
Without further ado let’s get down to the main feature, its music capabilities. The best part is the array of options Sony has graciously provided to enhance the player's music playback. A unique shuffle feature randomly selects a particular year and start playing files from there. There’s also an initial search feature that locates tracks by searching for the first letter of the track name or artist.
Among others, the 616F has three of Sony’s Clear Audio Technologies incorporated:
- DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) that restores the higher sound frequency lost when creating compressed music files.
- Clear Bass that enhances the bass sound while minimizing distortion, and
- Clear Stereo that helps reduce signal leakage from one channel to another.
On the whole, I was more than satisfied with the music playback. It was loud and clear without any need to max the volume. In noisy environments you can just sit back and leave the rest of the planet behind. And trust me, you’ll have no need to change the bundled earphones as they’re quite comfy to use; even after prolonged usage they won’t hurt your ears. The device is compatible with MP3, WMA, AAC-LC and Linear PCM file formats.
Another impressive feature is the battery life. I left the player running at full volume and it clocked a little over 12 hours. That’s not bad at all. Even when it comes to video playback you’ll be able to squeeze out 5-6 hours, which easily translates to three movies/videos. My eyes still ache. The sacrifices we make for the sake of testing...
The NWZ-S616F is a brilliant player. It looks good, sounds good, and has a more than decent battery life. My only problem, as I said before, is that the display is too small for watching movies. And at Rs 7990 for 4GB of space, this PMP lacks a voice/FM radio recording feature and there's no bundled video converter. It’s a PMP for those who are true connoisseurs of sound and who are not willing to compromise on the same, regardless of price. In simple terms: like music, go buy!