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Sony E005 2GB flash player

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Sony never had much luck with their earlier flash players. Firstly, the design quality was too weak – their designs simply couldn’t match up to that of Apple or Samsung. Some were simply unacceptable, the bean-shaped player they had in late 2005 for example.

In addition, they weren’t attractively priced. To own a Sony meant that you had to fork out a price premium as compared to Apple or Creative, and what you get is still a audio player that doesn’t look very pretty at all.

That was until Sony released their E00 series in early May, which marked a couple of unprecedented firsts for Sony, the most impressive being its low pricing. The E005 packs in 2 whole gigabytes of flash memory at $249 Singapore dollars (USD $156), while the 1GB variant and 512MB variant sell for $179 (USD $112) and $139 (USD $87) respectively. These audio players come with an FM tuner in Singapore, but not necessarily in all regions where this is sold in.

In addition, it’s extremely small.

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First Impressions:

This audio player comes with a cool metallic shine on the outside, which acts like a 2-way mirror. You can’t see inside it in ambient light, but it allows light from the OLED display to pass through cleanly.

The 1GB variant comes in a gamut of 5 different colours, while the 512MB and 2GB variants come only in black and violet. I strongly recommend the black ones as the other colours are rather garish and come with contrasting grey USB caps. The black version comes with a USB cap in a matching metallic black coat.

There is only a 1-line display, so some of you folks may find it a tad cumbersome to navigate through your songs.

The Play/Stop button and menu button are prominently placed on the front, and the forward/backward controls are in the form of a rocker placed on the side of the audio player. Volume controls and the hold switch are placed inconspicuously on the back.

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Being only 25 grams heavy, this thing won’t feel uncomfortable in your hands or pocket. However, due to the glossy plastic fascia, you’re bound to get many fingerprints on it.

Uploading:

Uploading your music is done via the built-in USB jack, which is accessible after you remove the USB cap.

One common complaint about Sony’s audio players is that you’re forced to use their proprietary software, SonicStage, to transfer your music. This audio player is no exception, but this disadvantage is partially alleviated by the fact that the current version of SonicStage 4.0 (not included in the package) is more stable than the early versions that early detractors complained about.

You use this software to import your music library, then transfer the music over to your audio player. While importing my music was quite a hassle-free process, the transfer of music to my audio player was slow. It took about 8 minutes to transfer 100 songs consisting of about 600MB.

Before you use the audio player, it is a good idea to update the firmware to the 2.00 version, which supports non-DRM AAC files

Listening:

Despite the small 1-line display, the menus were reasonably easy to navigate.

To get into the menu system, hold the menu button for a couple of seconds. From there you can choose automatic volume normalisation, customisable equaliser and a whole load of settings that are better described in the instruction manual here: http://pdf.crse.com/manuals/2678177111.pdf

The placement of the rocker switch is comfortable. It’s easy to move through albums by pressing the menu switch to go into folder mode, then using the rocker to scroll through your albums.

From the menus, there is also a Search mode that allows you to find your music by album, artist or track name easily.

Using the FM tuner is rather more complicated. I was not able to master it within 5 minutes, and did not try longer as there is hardly enough decent programming on FM radio in my country. I do not suggest this audio player if you listen to the radio often.

Otherwise, I have no major gripes with the navigation.

Sound Quality:

The included earphones were not evaluated. If you’re bothered enough about sound quality to read on, then you ought to use better earphones to bring out the potential of the audio player.

All music evaluated was encoded in VBR MP3 using Lame 3.97b. ATRAC was not evaluated.

Most anecdotal comments agree that this audio player has slightly above average sound quality, with the main concern being the rather-noticeable hiss in soft music passages. This begins to get intrusive when using high efficiency, low impedance in-canal earphones such as my Panasonic HJE50.

The audio output has a very warm character to it, with a little more harshness than what I am used to. Using my Sennheiser HD497 headphones, the hiss was gone but the deep bass notes sounded anaemic and the bell-like character of cymbals was muddied by the harshness. The mid-bass and midrange tones were however very accurate.

I still prefer the sound quality of my older Panasonic CT-810 portable CD player.

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Here are some objective tests. Despite the harsher sound of the Sony, it had superior objective indicators of sound quality. I can’t explain the bass hump in the Sony E005’s frequency response though. The EQ was set to flat.

The tests were done using Rightmark Audio Analyzer 5.5 under no load and also with Sennheiser HD497 headphones, with a very average Realtek chipset on an Acer notebook as the input. (I can’t afford high-end computer audio input.)

As for the FM tuner, the reception and sound quality were quite average and is nothing to write home about.

Battery Life:

I have not tested the battery life, but anecdotal reports claim that you get about 18 hours for MP3 playback (Sony claims 28 hours with ATRAC 132kbps files.). I will provide an update when I have done proper testing.

Conclusion:

If you don’t mind the inadequate FM tuner, the hassle of using SonicStage and the slow upload rate, this audio player is of extremely good value.

Usability is good and sound quality is above average but not impressive.

Is this an iPod Nano killer? No. The Sony doesn’t come with a colour LCD screen and has no photo capabilities to speak of. Is this a iPod Shuffle killer? Probably, though at a small price premium for the sleeker design and OLED display.

Country-specific information:

In Singapore, the E003 (1GB) comes with Q21LP clip-on headphones, and the E005 (2GB) comes with the headphones and a leather wallet-style carrying case.

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You may reproduce, link, whatever, this review, but please don't mutilate it and please also state that it's written by me!

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Nice review! Particularly with the test measurements :)

Side note: I'm always curious as to why people blank out serial numbers on pictures of such products. Personally I've even posted some serial numbers for comparison to other ppls devices. It isn't like you're posing your Social Insurance/Social Security number or anything. No one is going to take over or ruin your life because they have the serial number to your Walkman, LOL.

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Side note: I'm always curious as to why people blank out serial numbers on pictures of such products. Personally I've even posted some serial numbers for comparison to other ppls devices. It isn't like you're posing your Social Insurance/Social Security number or anything. No one is going to take over or ruin your life because they have the serial number to your Walkman, LOL.

People could claim the serial number, and claim a warranty or replacement through the manufacture. If the real user actually needs a replacement, they could be denied one. Another more farfetch yet possible is if a person claim the serial number, and reported it as being stolen, when the actual user register the device with that serial number, he/she can get into trouble.Also, consumer electronic piracy is rampant in asia. They have fake cell phones and walkman all over the place, and etching a known real serial number can mask that. If the FBI investigated a ring of pirates and found out that serial number, it can be a hassle for the real owner.

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Question: Can the display show kanji characters?

From what I see in http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/av/docs/20060602/dev151.htm the hardware itself supports kanji.

However, I tried renaming a file to kanji on my Windows XP (English language) PC and then using it in Sonicstage 4.0 (English language, downloaded from www.sony.com.sg, probably an Asia Pacific version). Sonicstage refused to let me add the file to the library, claiming that the filename was invalid. So there, you probably need the Japanese version of Sonicstage or even Windows to do that.

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From what I see in http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/av/docs/20060602/dev151.htm the hardware itself supports kanji.

However, I tried renaming a file to kanji on my Windows XP (English language) PC and then using it in Sonicstage 4.0 (English language, downloaded from www.sony.com.sg, probably an Asia Pacific version). Sonicstage refused to let me add the file to the library, claiming that the filename was invalid. So there, you probably need the Japanese version of Sonicstage or even Windows to do that.

To import a music file (file name in Japanese) - You will need to run your version of SonicStage via Microsoft AppLocale (in Japanese) and tweak your registry as I have outlined in this guide. In any case, your device should display kanji characters.

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  • 2 years later...

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