Sony NW-E507 Digital Audio Player

I’ve had this mp3 player for about a year now, and so far, it’s been great. Sony boasts 50 hours of battery life, 1 GB of storage, an FM radio, a sleek and slim design, and a 3 line OLED display, it’s main selling point. This player has been dubbed the ‘iPod Shuffle killer’ ever since it came out. We’ll look at why.

The first thing you’ll notice about this mp3 player is the unique casing and size. The casing is sleek and smooth, while the buttons and back are all chrome colored. Sony claims that they’ve used ‘special’, more durable materials like acrylic and metallic zinc in this player, but upon closer inspection you’ll see some assembly lines where they stuck the pieces together. The song toggler at the end feels slightly plastic when you look at it in detail, but hey, you’ll be showing this to your friends at a distance, right?

Instead of a regular LCD screen, the E507 has a beautiful 3 line OLED display, displaying the usual information: artist, song, play mode, track number and battery life. Sony claims that the display can be seen under just about any lighting condition, and I’ve tested this to be true. You can tilt the player at an almost 90 degree angle and still read the track information. The text is crisp and clear, and it scrolls along smoothly without looking choppy or broken up. One major annoyance I’ve had with this player is that the ‘artist’ line doesn’t scroll. When you have a long singer or band name on, it just gets cut off at about 11 characters, which I find to be quiet annoying. There is no way to manually scroll it or to look at it from another view.

The dimensions of the E507 are 1.13 in (W) x .55 in (D) x 3.34 in (L). It’s about the same length as a pack of gum or roll of lipstick, and while it is heavier than the Shuffle (1.66 oz compared to .78 oz), it’s still very light for a DAP and you won’t feel it when you put it in your pocket. The buttons are well placed out, with a track toggle at the end of the player. Turning it upwards (towards you) skips to the next track, and turning it downwards (towards you) gets you to the previous track. The two volume buttons are placed on either sides of the toggler, and at the face of player is the start/stop button. The player turns itself off in about 6 seconds after you press stop.

There is a ‘display’ button at the front that allows you to change the display mode (default, all tracks, song timer, date/time and ‘bubbles’). The search/menu button allows you to search for your tracks by artist, album or group. If you hold the button down for 2 seconds, the menu screen shows up, and this is where you can edit settings like date/time, AVLS, power save mode, volume mode and repeat mode. The repeat/sound button at the back lets you choose the play mode (A-B repeat, repeat all, repeat once, shuffle) and sound mode (preset 1, preset 2). The sound modes can be changed in the menu option, where you can adjust treble/bass levels easily.

The sound quality on this Sony player is great, as usual, although you can’t crank the volume up as loud as the Shuffle. The E507 comes with standard Sony earphones, which aren’t too great, and I replaced them straight away with my own pair.

Sony boasts a 50 hour battery life, and this is a lot when you compare it with a mere 12 hours on the (displayless) Shuffle. I haven’t had the time to actually test this out yet, as the E507 gets charged up everytime you plug it into the PC to transfer songs. Sony claims a 3 minute charge will give you 3 hours of battery life, and this is really useful for busy people who are always on-the-go. Although I haven’t tried it yet, a full charge to 100% I heard takes about 10 hours, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to charge it fully anyway.

One major complaint many people have with Sony digital audio players is the software: Sony’s music transferring program, SonicStage, requires users to convert their music into a different format (Atrac3) before uploading it onto their players. The E507 comes with SonicStage 3, and this time you’re allowed to directly upload your music onto the player without first converting the tracks into a different format. I found transferring music very quick and easy, as it was just a matter of dragging and dropping songs into the library and hitting ‘transfer’. The E507 offers playback in MP3, WAV, WMA and ATRAC3 modes, however the lack of AAC and OGG modes may be an annoyance to many people.

Another complaint I have with the E507 is that to charge it, you have to have a computer and cable with you. This makes it slightly awkward on vacations and long trips, but the 3 min/3 hour charge system makes up dlightly for this (walk into an internet cafe, stick the player and cable into a PC, have a coffee, and hey, you have another 3 hours of playtime!) The small flap that covers the USB slot is weak and flimsy, and I always have problems trying to pull it open. People with big hands may have some problems handling this player as the buttons are so small, but this should be a very minor issue as most of the time you’ll be using the track toggler.

With all the small complaints aside, the NW-E507 is a great all-around flash player. The battery life is more than 4 times of the Shuffle’s, and this player has a beautiful display, something the Shuffle is completely lacking in. The price is fairly reasonable ($200, Shuffle costs around $150), and I think it’s completely worth spending an extra 50 bucks on a better looking player with way more functions.

That being said, go out and buy this if you’re looking for a great all-around MP3 player. You won’t be disappointed.

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