Say "Walkman" and you probably now think of the Sony Ericsson phones, but Sony hasn't stopped making dedicated music players. Can the NWZ-S639F make you want to dump your current MP3 player? We get listening to find out.
Small and tall, the Sony NWZ-S639F (yes it's a rubbish name) is around the same size as the iPod nano 4G and comes with a 2.0-inch QVGA LCD screen that can display images and video as well as audio details.
The screen shares the front with the controls. You get a circular d-pad (no it's not a click wheel) and two further buttons: back and option. The side sports volume and hold buttons.
Incredibly slim considering the 16GB of storage tucked inside, the NWZ-S639F comes in a range of colours and these colour schemes carry on into the software interface which is customisable either with patterns recommended by Sony or from a picture you've dumped in the right folder.
The main menu interface is laid out in a grid formation (the icons are the same as the PSP) and gives you access to all the players features: SensMe, an FM radio, intelligent shuffle, pictures, music, video, settings, podcasts and now playing.
SensMe has been brought over from the Sony Ericsson handsets and like the Walkman phones arranges your music automatically into different mode compilations determined by the beat in the track. Moods available include Relax, Energetic, Upbeat, Pop Ballard, Lounge, Acoustic, Electronic, Classical, Extreme, Daytime, Morning and Evening, and finally Shuffle All.
If one of your tracks fits into those categories it will automatically appear in the right place. Unfortunately however you can't create or add to the mood list so people who have just been dumped can't access a "play me sad/angry songs please" category.
Capable of playing back video, footage is crisp however incredibly small and compared to other small MP3 players with larger screens such as the Creative X-Fi it's not something we would recommend watching anything longer than a couple of minutes on.
Playback can be watched landscape however as the NWZ-S639F doesn't have an accelerometer like the nano 4G you have to set this manually (once) to determine the orientation.
While the Sony Walkman does things other than music, music is still the core focus here. The music library can be sorted via the usual lists: artist, album, genre but also release year.
Because the NWZ-S639F is a drag and drop player you can also view your collection by folder while the Time Machine Shuffle feature plays songs from randomly selected years. Beyond the music selection options you can also search via initial, either by the artist, the album, or the song.
With so many features you might worry the focus wouldn't have been on the audio quality. Luckily it's something the NWZ-S639F doesn't stuff from.
While Sony has included plenty of equalizer settings, VPT (surround) to give you the feeling you are at a gig or in studio for example, and DSEE whereby the sound is enhanced, you don't really need any of them turned on to enjoy a decent sound. It's mainly thanks to the player, but also to the decision to include a decent set of in-ear headphones in the box.
The NWZ-S639F comes with a pair of MDR-EX082, which provide a good all round sound for treble and bass lovers alike. They aren't the best on the market by a long shot, but they are good enough that you aren't going to have to upgrade straight away unless you are a die-hard muso.
With a good sound, small design and drag and drop freedom the NWZ-S639F has plenty going for it.
If however video is important, that screen, although crisp, just won't be big enough to satisfy. Still if you're just after music with the odd bit of video this is a nice little sound system.