By >Akihabara News Team
[Review] Sony Walkman S755
I’ll admit it up front: I’m a big Sony Walkman fan. I’ve owned four of them up till now, all the way from the original cassette player in the 1990’s to the 16GB S755 I’ll be reviewing today. However, there’s a reason I keep buying them and upgrading them: it’s because they’re good.
The S755 is no exception. The upgrade to the S730 series, which it replaces, this little beauty packs first-rate audio performances and superb battery life into a small, lightweight player.
I. Design (9/10)
Look and feel
Sony announced the S755’s dimensions as 94.0 x 42.5 x 7.2 for 55 grams, and the ultra-thin (7.2mm!) S755 fits well in the palm of your hand, feeling both light and solid thanks to its matt aluminum body.
The 2” TruBlack back-lit display looks very bright and crisp, and the contrast ratio is excellent.
I absolutely love the new aesthetics (actually, it’s the old S series look that got a necessary freshening up), though I can’t say I’m a big fan of all the colors you can choose from: black and white look really elegant, but gold, blue, pink, purple and red aren’t to my taste. Well, to each his own!
All the important buttons are within easy reach of your fingers for easy one-handed handling. On the upper right side are the volume controls, which respond nicely to pressure; on the lower right side is the “hold” button, which I found sometimes a bit hard to use with one hand. On the front side are the “back” button (which, if you keep pressing on becomes the “home button”) and the “option” button, as well as playback and directional controls (“play/pause”, “up/down” in menus, “fast forward/rewind” while playing music or video.
Overall I found the controls and the interface very intuitive and pleasant (even in Japanese). If you’ve owned a S-series Walkman before, you won’t be surprised, since very few changes have been made.
One thing, however, surprised me: Why did Sony remove the very handy switch at the bottom of the Walkman that let you turn noise cancelling on and off at will? I don’t like using this function when I’m walking, and it was very convenient to be able to turn it off without even looking. Now I have to dig deep into the controls to do it, which means I have to stop whatever I’m doing, for no good reason.
II. Features (8/10)
Since the S755 is available in 8 to 32 GB, you can just pick the size to fill your needs. As for the actual file transfer, nothing could be easier: you drag and drop music files from Windows Explorer into folders directly on the player, just like you would on an external drive. No sync, no device registration, no driver. Just good old, reliable plug and play. (If you DO require an iTunes-like experience, Sony considerately included its own content manager which you can install if you want).
One tiny little nitpick: not being able to listen to music on the player while it’s plugged in is impractical. Maybe it’s meant to speed up the charging process, but still — why not give the choice to the user?
Image, Audio and video file support
The S755 natively supports MP3/WMA (include DRM)/AAC-LC/ Linear PCM/AAC formats. As for video files, the player can play AVC (H.264/AVC) Baseline Profile/MPEG-4/WMV (including DRM) files. JPEG is supported up to a maximum resolution of 4096 x 4096 pixels (16 million pixels). There is no slideshow function, strangely, but I didn’t miss it.
Kind of like Apple’s Genius mixing function, SenseMe scans all the songs stored in your device and then sorts them in thematic channels like “Morning”, “Mellow” or “Upbeat”. I’ve found it rather accurate on the whole, and frankly, I’ve become very fond of this system.
Let’s not fool ourselves, here: the S755 isn’t a dedicated karaoke machine, and while the new Karaoke function works well, it can’t replace the true experience. That said, it does work: the player muffles the vocals and keeps the instrumentals to let you sing yourself hoarse over your favorite singer’s voice.
A very basic but functional FM radio system is included, and you can set 7 preset stations. It’s not flashy but it works very well, and the sound quality is good.
You need a dedicated cable to try out this function, and sadly I didn’t have one. From the manual and Sony’s website, it seems as though you can record music on the fly from other devices, like a CD or cassette player, etc. You can make voice or video recordings as well.
One of my long-standing gripes with the Walkman S-Series is that you can’t edit playlists on the go; you need to be plugged in a computer for that. Not very convenient, but then again, with the SenseMe
channels I hardly ever use playlists anymore…So it really depends on your taste and preferences.
The player lets you take full control of playback speeds, repeat and rewind functions, in order to easily learn new languages through audio lessons.
III. Performances (9/10)
They come in either black or white depending on the Walkman’s color: black earphones for the black, gold, purple and red player; white earphones for the white, pink and blue player. The five-conductor jack plug is gold-plated. Sony provides 3 stock sleeve sizes; and even with my small ears, I found one that fit me perfectly.
One small annoyance: after a month’s use, the white earphones’ plastic parts have almost imperceptibly grayed. It’s barely noticeable, but I thought it ought to be mentioned.
Excellent noise cancelling is one of the things that make the S755 awesome rather than simply good. Not only is the result frankly amazing, but the drain on the battery is minimal.
Using a dedicated cable, the player lets you filter out noise when listening to outside sources… like an airplane movie. I’ve used this feature time and time again on long-haul flights, and quite frankly, I couldn’t do without it. Once you’ve tried this, you won’t ever use the plane headphones again if you can help it.
Even if you don’t fly often, or at all, the Quiet mode is also very handy: in short, you can use your Walkman as very efficient earplugs. Invaluable when you want to work quietly or grab some shuteye in a noisy environment.
Sound quality is stellar. There is no distortion, no extra noise, nothing except the music you want to hear. And when you turn on noise cancelling, not even the outside world will disturb you (which is why you should definitely not use it while walking outside).
You can use a wide variety of settings to suit your needs: Clear Audio Technologies (Digital Noise Canceling/DSEE/Clear Stereo/Clear Bass/EX Headphones), 5 Band Equalizer (None/Heavy/Pop/Jazz/Unique/Custom 1/Custom 2), Clear Bass and Dynamic Normalizer.
On the S755’s bright 2” screen, the quality is quite acceptable for watching music videos or short clips, but I wouldn’t recommend watching a full-length movie ou even TV episode on it. The player supports resolution up to QVGA (720 x 480) and 30fps framerate. Viewing angles are very good.
I use my mp3 player on a daily basis, and I have to charge it on average once every ten days. That’s without noise cancelling (don’t want to be squished under a car), with equalizer on and with maximum screen brightness. Turn down the brightness and you can probably squeeze an extra day’s use of battery.
Sony announced 50 hours of music playback (with noise cancelling off, 40 hours otherwise) with a single charge; in my opinion for a normal user that’s about right (the iPod touch’s battery life is officially 30 hours, for example). When watching video, you can expect 10 hours of continuous video playback (without noise cancelling, 9 hours otherwise). Also, the player charges up very fast (3 hours for a full charge, 80% charge in 1.5 hours) but you can only charge it via USB.
• Noise cancelling is a blast
• Gorgeous sound
• Great bundled ear-phones
• Excellent battery life, fast charge
• SenseMe happily replaces playlists
• Karaoke function
• Not meant to watch videos
• Can’t modify playlists on the go
• Can’t listen to the player while charging
• No easy way to turn noise cancelling on/off
VI. Conclusion (8.5/10)
If you like your music unpolluted by outside noise, if you’re not a big fan of iTunes or proprietary syncing software, if you want superlative battery life and terrific sound quality, you’ll love the Walkman S755. It may not be the best mp3 player out there, but it certainly comes pretty close. I heartily recommend it to all the music lovers out there.