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Old 10-14-2007, 10:03 PM
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Default NWZ-S615F 2gb version review (full)

NWZ-S615F 2gb version review



I finally got a hold of the Sony NWZ-S615F, and I am really surprised on how good this little little pmp is. Sony chose to go the route of discontinuing sonic stage on this model. I have used the player for a few hours now and have compiled my thoughts as of thus far.

Packaging and accessories (4 out of 10): The player comes with a basic set of headphones, a usb cable, an installation cd, and a cradle adapter. The aspect that really knocks down the points in this category is the damn plastic blister pack it comes in. Sony should have opted for shrink rapped box for the pmp, making it more environmentally friendly and easier to open.

Build quality (9 out of 10): Sony has usually made decent quality products in the years, the S615 is no exception. Plastic is used as the build material, but it does not have that plastic overall feel to it. The player feels very dense with almost no give to it at all. The display is protected by plastic and seems scratch resistant.

Navigation, Buttons, and GUI (8 out of 10): Navigation is slightly above average, Sony choosing to utilize a directional pad. The menu is very easy to understand and navigate. It is always easy for the user to go to the “now playing” section no matter what menu is open. The GUI is very clean and searching by many different options is available including that of the standard ID3 tags and that of folder navigation. Album art is displayed on the now playing screen which is a nice touch. The directional pad is a bit cramped though and is a little difficult for users with bigger hands. In all though, navigation is very functional and GUI layout is intuitive and clean.




Computer connectivity (10 out of 10): Sony dropped sonic stage and windows XP sp2 or better can see this as an MTP device. The device is available as a drag and drop device in explorer and the media library on the pmp is updated via usb disconnect. One interesting thing I did notice (not documented) is that the user can force mass storage drivers in device manager. I have not tried transferring anything in mass storage mode though, you are able to see the directory structure in this mode with no problem.

Supported codecs (8 out of 10): Sony did choose to include AAC which is a nice touch, yet the device is a bit lacking in codec support. Sony opted not to use a popular lossless codec, but the unit is capable of playing linear pcm with the file extension of .wav which is lossless. Also WMA (standard wma) and MP3 are support as with most other players on the market. Jpeg file format can be used for image playback. Video playback is allowed by , mpeg4 and h.264 at qvga with the mp4 and m4v container formats (so dont expect divx and xvid files to work).

LCD (10 out of 10): At 1.8 inches, the LCD is on the small side. Though what really sets this player aprt from many others is that it has a QVGA resolution, which paired with a 1.8inch screen makes it very sharp. The display only supports 256k colors but this is forgivable as saturation and brightness is paired with a great contrast ratio. I have yet to see a better looking LCD on a pmp of this size. Below are some pictures of the LCD, notice in the black and white how good the contrast is.



Audio performance (10 out of 10): This is the area Sony has always shined in, and to date with all the daps and pmp players I have tested, I can say this is one of my favorite with relation to sound stage. I used a pair of Panasonic RP-HTX7 headphones as well as Sennheiser HD-485 during the test, the test below will be that of using the 485 series. Though I being up the Panasonic headphones, because they sound great only on very limited outputs, and I have never had anything portable drive them well except a D2 and this player.



This pmp does have a few useful audio enhancements that I have tested and work well. DSEE brings out high range audio using a band pass filter and extender I am guessing via DSP. In most cases DSEE does work well, a few cases it has made the audio sound overly bright. Clear bass is another feature I have used, along with the 5 band equalizer really work well. Clear bass extends the bass without making the music sound muddy. The other DSP effects sound over processed for my liking, like the virtual surround sound and the dynamic limiter.

For the Following I used my HD-485 set with the Clear bass set to 2 and the EQ all bands at flat, all other DSP effects were turned off.


Song: Death Cab for Cutie – Brothers on a Hotel Bed

This song has a few aspects that are very hard from most flash daps to reproduce. One Ben Gibbard has a slight echo to his voice, which was quite apparent on this dap. Also you can hear a bit of studio noise that I could only hear on my computer. Bass is very tight and punchy and trebles are shaped but not overly harsh. In all this piece sounded fantastic.

Song: Bach - BMW 1007

This is a harpsichord and cello composition with strong high and low elements. The version I have chosen was a 1968 re master that was originally recorded using very high end microphones at the time. The original recording does not contain any artificial pushes like newer music. In all it sounds very clean on this dap, lows from the cello suite are present and very punchy. The harpsichord does not sound overly bright but has proper treble.

Song:Bach - BMW 1053

This is probably one of the most familiar cello suites of all time, but that said it also can easily sound like crap if not reproduced well. The player really renders good warmth on this piece as well as fatefully reproduces the room acoustics.

Loudness is really not a factor for this player, it was able to push all the headphones I was using to uncomfortable loudness. I have not tried the stock ear phones, like other players they seem of a lower quality than even a cheap pair of Sennheiser earbuds.

Video performance (8 out of 10)

I don't really see video being a strong point of this player, only given the screen size being 1.8 inches. That said the LCD quality does make for clean video playback. The major downfall is the lack of codec support, it has to be qvga and h.264 or mpeg 4 (generic) with the mp4 and m4v container format. Video is very fluid with out any artifacts.

Overall (9 out 10)

In all the NWZ-S615F is a great well built little player for the price point of $100 for the 2GB and $119 for a 4gb. Sound quality is amazing as is LCD quality. Navigation is very generic but works, and 1.8 inces is a small screen for any serious video playback. The biggest strength of this player is the sound quality which very few flash players I have heard can match (the D2 is not much better IMO).

Pros:

Sound Quality
Build Quality
AAC support
Video playback at QVGA at 30fps
Bright QVGA LCD

Cons:
Needs more codecs for video
Small LCD for video
Navigation is very generic

Untested:

battery life
fm radio
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