Thursday, June 9 2005

And this Kills Shuffles how, exactly?

Gizmodo links to a review of the new Sony NW-E507 that they think is an honest-to-gosh iPod Shuffle killer. Features: “easy, one-handed controls”, “estimated 50 hour battery life”, and “integrated FM tuner” (still waiting for an explanation of why you want radio on a device that can hold anything you ever want to listen to). For only $50 more than a Shuffle, what a deal!

Choice quotes from the actual review:

The mirror-like Champaign gold fascia looks plain, but there is an OLED display hiding behind it.

The bundled ear buds that come in the box sound muted and muffled, while the cable is also a bit too short.

Sony claims 50 hours continuous playback, although that’s when playing ATRAC3 at 105kbps.

At the base of the NW-E507 is a plastic cover that hides the mini-USB port.

I found the clip to be less than confidence inspiring – twice I tried to attach it to my belt, and twice the player fell off while I was walking.

Software wise, you get SonicStage version 3.0, which is a definite improvement over previous versions, but still nowhere near as good as MusicMatch or iTunes.

So, it might have significantly better battery life, although the difference between 12 hours and 50 hours doesn’t impress me, since both units have to be plugged into a computer to charge or update, and the difference between charging it overnight and charging it every few days isn’t that significant in ordinary use. With the Sony, though, you have to carry around a mini-USB to USB cable; the Shuffle just plugs into any standard USB port.

The bundled accessories sound pretty weak, too; bad earbuds, bad belt clip, lame software. Sure, the Shuffle’s quick-detach neck strap screams “snatch-and-grab”, but at least it never just falls off. And I defy anyone to read the detailed description of the “easy, one-handed controls” without giggling. Press, press and hold, twist back and forth, and pull out one click or two, with buttons on front, back, top, and sides.

Conspicuously missing from the review is any mention of using it as a standard USB flash drive. The Sony site hints that you can store data on it, but doesn’t say how.

And, of course, the software is Windows-only.