on Monday, November 19 (2007) 09:00PM by Michael Pereira comments: 23 author awarded score: 84/100 hits: 121127
Sonyâ€™s name has been synonymous with Portable Music from the beginning. In the â€˜80â€™s when cassette tapes were the popular medium, the Sony Walkman was the leading audio cassette player. As the music industry transitioned from analog to digital, Sony led the way with their Discman line of CD players. Although CD's are still widely used today, we are no doubt in the MP3 era. The only difference this time is the company atop the portable music leader board.
So where did Sony go wrong? There are a number of factors, but the biggest in my mind is their reliance on the MiniDisc (MD) format. As MP3 players were becoming more prevalent, Sony promoted MD players that used their ATRAC codecs. Instead of letting the consumer determine the direction to take, Sony attempted to make the decision for them. Because of this, Sony's name stopped being synonymous with "Portable Music" and started being associated with "Proprietary".
In retrospect, MiniDisc's never really took off globally, and by the time Sony decided to make MP3 players they were a few laps behinds everyone else. To make things worse, Sony required you to use a proprietary transfer program called "SonicStage". This "locked in" software strategy is also used by Apple with iTunes, but SonicStage provided more headaches than anything else.
If at first you don't Succeed...
But all of that is history now. Sony has turned a new leaf, and seem to be learning from their mistakes. A few months ago, they announced their first and second video Walkman, the A810 and S610 series. The two players differ in design, but share most of the same features. The S610 which I'll be reviewing has a slightly smaller screen (1.8" vs 2.0") but advances by removing both ATRAC support, and SonicStage. It also adds an FM tuner. Here;s what it has to offer:
Capacity: 2, 4, and 8GB
Display: 1.8" TFT (320 x 240)
Audio: MP3, WMA, AAC, and WAV
Video: MPEG-4, and M4V at 30fps
Battery Life: 33 hours for Audio, 8 hours for Video
Dimensions: 42 x 79 x 11.5mm
Colors: Black, Red, Silver (Sony Style exclusive), and Pink
Yeah, my friend had the S9 and he really loved it, especially the custom GUIs people would cook up.
I noticed that Cowon recently released a D20 and an X9. They both look rather tempting. Availability looks spotty at the moment though :L
My favorite DAP probably would have been the Zune30, if it was slightly more customizable. The RIO players had great auto-playlisting & searching support.
Similarly, the Haier Ibiza (despite its other shortcomings) has a brilliant filter feature and related features during playback.
It, however, can't make a shuffle list to save its digital life so it gets on my nerves using it as my car player.
Yeah, people still seem to love convergence devices. I'm still of the mind that I'd rather have devices that are designed for a specific task, and execute that task properly. The biggest pet peeve I have is crappy tools, and convergence devices by definition, are crappy tools. By attempting to do everything, they do no single task well.
@Saijin: The J3 is one of the best DAPs I've had. The GUI is way better than the S9. The hardware is pretty similar. I still have a special place in my heart for the iRiver Clix, though. Loved the interface on that so much...
The problem we have today is that hardly anyone actually uses a DAP and they don't want to carry more than one device. I probably carry my mp3 player more than my phone, but I realize most people are not like me
That sounds like a decent size for a music library. How are you finding the Cowon? They seem to be one of the few manufactures left that makes anything halfway decent. I'm not interested in Yet Another Android Slate (YAAS) like the Archos line have devolved into.
But Sarah, the iProducts are the bestest things ever! Their batteries last like, totally way longer than like, other players do!