28 years have passed since the Walkman brand was first coined by Sony, and in that time the Walkman brand had been synonymous with personal audio and sound quality for products based on cassette tape, Compact Disc (CD) and MiniDisc (MD). Now, in the age of flash memory comes Sony's latest NWZ-S615F Walkman player and it arrived in our hands with 2GB of memory for storing music, photos and videos.
Different from recent Walkman models, the new NWZ-S615F Walkman sports an appearance that's decidedly less flashy - more down to earth if you will. There are no odd curves from radical styling here. What you get is a simple bar form factor Sony Walkman in a conventional black and silver color tone. Black, pink and red color tones are also available to attract a wider consumer group and it helps that the player feels very well put together too.
If you're already happy with its basic styling, you'll be happier to know that Sony has done away with the old SonicStage proprietary software, which means multimedia files can now be easily transferred into the NWZ-S615F via drag and drop. Unfortunately, while there is no more proprietary software getting in the way of file transfer, the bundled USB cable is still of a proprietary design and not your run of the mill type. So unless you don't mind paying a premium, you'll want to keep a close eye on the USB cable and make sure it doesn't get misplaced.
Being a Walkman that's capable of video playback, screen size is naturally an important consideration. Though the NWZ-S615F does have a 1.8-inch LCD with a screen resolution of 320 by 240 pixels, we can't say that it is big enough to enjoy dramas or movies while you commute to and fro work or school. For enjoying music video clips and photos however, we found the screen size and the resolution to be ideal enough.
However, that being said, you should not consider the NWZ-S615F for its video playback capability but more for its excellent audio quality as an MP3 player that also lets you enjoy spur-of-the-moment photo browsing and music videos.
Right below the screen is a straightforward and well-spaced control pad. The play/pause button sits right in the middle with tactile directional arrows on all four sides. These are for playback control as well as navigation. A hold switch is situated on the left edge while the dedicated volume button is seated on the right. At the top is where the 3.5 millimeter audio jack is located.
It's well known that Sony Walkman devices have long battery life and with the NWZ-S615F, it's business as usual alright. Our weeklong tests concluded that the battery life for audio playback and video playback was close to the specifications of 33 hours and 8 hours respectively, which means charging will probably be a weekly affair. And since the NWZ-S615F player is very easy to use, with an interface that's represented by icons, there is no need for you to spend unnecessary time flipping through the user manual – unless you've never used a portable audio player before.
Stocked with such a lovely interface and with pink and red color options, the NWZ-S615F is clearly not just for men. Whichever side of the gender you represent, you'll enjoy the firm bass that is neither muddy nor boomy and the warm audio quality that is gentle on the ears. In all, the Sony NWZ-S615F is a compact flash-based player with very good audio quality, an intuitive interface, FM radio and an amazing battery life. The downside, the only one we could think of, is that it only has 2GB for a sticker price of SGD$199, but then again, it's a Sony.