Sony S610 Review

sony s610 main Sony S610 Review

Sony’s S610 is their low man on the totem pole in the new line of video flash players sporting 2, 4, and 8GB capacities. This is last year’s model but Sony has decided to keep it around to accompany the newer 2.4” screened Bluetooth players. But don’t let the “last year’s model” deter you from purchasing. The S610 is by no means out of date- features, sound quality, and video playback are comparable to most players currently on the market.

If you read the A810 review, you may experience a bit of déjà vu since these two players share similar features and navigation. The S610 may be a good alternative if you are looking for an FM radio and a slightly more compact form factor.

  • Quick Look
  • Size: 47.4 x 84.6 x 16.2 mm
  • Screen: 1.8” 320×240 262k Color
  • MSRP: 2GB $100, 4GB $130, 8GB $180
  • Audio Support: MP3, WMA, AAC, PCM
  • Video Support: MPEG 4, M4V
  • Rated Battery: 33 Hours Audio / 8 Hours Video
  • Photo Support: JPG
  • Transfer Protocol: MTP
  • Other Features: FM Radio
  • Complete Specs
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Accessories

Inside the box you will find a proprietary USB cable, dock insert, software CD, and the player. Sony sells a few official accessories for the S610 such as a silicon case, leather case, dock, and Bluetooth adapter.

Design

The majority of the player is made from a matte plastic with a chrome plastic rim around the edges. The plastic screen is very scratch resistant and holds up well. The control pad is also graced with plastic buttons and a smooth plastic face. Overall the build quality is solid but it feels somewhat hollow. Now despite it feeling hollow and plastic, I would not call it cheap. Button tolerances are still very good and typical to Sony. However, if you compared the S610 side by side to the A810, you might say it felt cheap.

Screen

The S610 sports a 1.8” 320×240 262k color screen. It is bright, quick, and accurate. Viewing angle are near perfect 180 degrees although may suffer from a little bit of glare depending on your environment’s lighting. Video looks great- is smooth, fast, and colors are vivid.

Software / Media Transfer

We can all rejoice now that Sony has dropped its dreaded SonicStage media player. It was required for previous MP3 players. All of Sony’s players are now MTP allowing them to be used with most media players and subscription music services such as Windows Media Player, MonkeySoft Software, Napster, Rhapsody, and a hand full of others. Drag and drop is also available with updated XP systems and Windows Vista.

Firmware

Don’t expect to find new firmwares for this player. Sounds ridiculous? Actually, quite the opposite- Sony has a record of releasing bug free and stable firmware. It is nice not to have to continually update your MP3 player’s software.

User Interface

Just like the recent new line up of Sony’s flash players and previous interfaces for that matter, the S610’s interface may not be simple but it is intuitive. There is a slight learning curve, but once you are familiar, it becomes a powerful and easy to use interface with everything only a few button presses away. Compared to the A810, I do slightly prefer the S610’s button layout being that its more comfortable to reach to the top for the option and back buttons than it is to reach to the right.

Aside from a few icons begin rearranged to fit the FM, the S610 has an interface consistent to nearly all the other players in the Walkman family- A810, A820, A720, S710. That said here is an excerpt from the A810 review concerting the navigation:

Music navigation is fairly standard Song, Artist, Album, Genre, ect,
style hierarchical browsing. But Sony offers a nice little twist with an alphabet index at the top. By pressing to the right you can scroll though the top this index jumping you to the corresponding place in the long list of music. When I say alphabet index, it shows for example “A-D”, “E-H”, ect. The spacing adjusts dynamically for the length of the list.

In addition to the alphabet index at the top of the music navigation, on the home screen there is an “initial search” this shows an entire alphabet for artist, album, and song. You select a letter and it will take you to that part of your library. I am a little confused as to why this exists when it may have been better just to put the entire library at the top of the navigation instead of the index.

Battery

The battery is rated by Sony at 33 hours audio and 8 hours video. This is about twice other players in its class. It also stands up well in real world tests. I got better than 26 hours audio and 7 hours video.

Instant On

Like its sibling, the A810, it has a really cool instant on feature with no noticeable battery drain. The player does not even take a second to turn on once the button is pressed almost as if it is anticipating your finger on the button.

Pictures

Picture viewing is straight forwarded- folders, thumbnails, and slideshows. Pictures can be viewed vertically, horizontally left, or horizontally right.

FM Radio

Radio reception is quite good, better than most players. Navigation is easy and auto programming makes adding your favorite stations a snap. There is nothing to complain about this feature. It does just what it is supposed to do.

Audio

Playlists / Playback

A big disappointment was the lack of on the go playlisting. Playlists are still available but must be created with your media player on your computer. Audiobook listeners will be disappointed to find that there are not bookmarks as well. Scanning while tracks are playing is excruciatingly slow, but when one paused can scan though at about a min per second.

Sound Quality

The S610 sounds very good. Like most of Sony’s players it is well balanced and rich throughout the spectrum. Although I might say that it is a little too rich in the bass end making the bass sound slightly clouded. If you are wondering how it stacks up against the A810- it is identical.

EU & Sound Enhancements

The S610 comes equipped with a 5-band EQ along with a “clear bass” bass boost-like enhancement. The EQ has 7 notches per band going from +3 and down to -3. Sony also throws in some “environment enhancements” called “VST(Surroud)”. The settings include “Studio”, “Live”, “Club”, “Arena”, “Matrix”, and “Karaoke” that will give them respective sound environment characteristics. I don’t like these since I find them to be too unnatural; however you may find them useful.

There is a sound shaping setting similar to BBE or SRS-WOW called DSEE (Sound Enhance) which enhances lossy music to sound more like the original. It works well and very viable compared to BBE. There is another sound enhancement called Clear Stereo. I am unfamiliar with the technology, but it gave the player a bit wider sound stage

Video

The video looks great just like the A810 with smooth 30 frames per second. Keep in mind though the screen is 0.2” smaller than the A810’s 2”. It may seem trivial but it does make a difference.

There is no conversion utility included with the player but there are many available software programs that will convert for the S610. Since the iPod and the PSP uses the same codec as the S610, there are several dozen free programs for converting to M4V. In addition to widely available conversion utilities, content is also widely available via hundreds of podcasts formatted in M4V/QuickTime format. Just be sure to choose the 320×240 resolutions.

Conclusion

The S610 is a very nice player with a very easy and powerful interface. The build quality is light, but still has the typical solid Sony build quality and tight button tolerances. The Walkman (yeah they are still calling it that) sounds great and has some useful sound shaping settings. One big disappointment, however, is the lack of on the go playlists and bookmarks for the audiobook listeners.

So do I recommend the S610? Yes, but Sony also has some very similar players with slightly different features. Sony has done a fine job of confusing its customers with alpha numeric names and slight feature changes. Regardless to whether you have the patience to sort them all out, no matter which you get you will end up with a very nice MP3 player. So don’t sweat it, you really can’t go wrong.

I would recommend checking out the comparison sheet to help you sort though Sony’s array of flash players.

Comparisons

Pros

  • Instant Start Up
  • Great battery life
  • Solid Design
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Nice User Interface
  • Solid Firmware
  • Good FM Radio

Cons

  • No on the go playlists
  • No bookmarks
  • Lacks power for heavy duty headphones

Purchase

Sony MP3 players are found in many brick and mortars, but can be found the at the best price on Amazon allowing you to avoid sales tax as well. People in the UK and EU can get them online from AdvancedMP3Players.

15 Comments

Dave on March 4, 2008 7:03 PM

Nice review. But to bad it’s a bit old.

sean on March 4, 2008 9:37 PM

anybody know where i can see pictures of the interface? im feelin this baby in black

EnzoTen (Grahm) on March 4, 2008 9:58 PM

It is last years model, but Sony has kept it around refreshing it with the S710 noise canceling. The S610 will be on store shelves for a while.

Eric on March 4, 2008 10:58 PM

The toshiba t400 has been on the front-page sidebar as *the* most recommended flash mp3 player for a t least a couple months with the note saying that a full review was in the works. Is the review actually coming for the player you guys seem to like the most or should I just quit checking for the review to show up…

EnzoTen (Grahm) on March 4, 2008 11:40 PM

The T400 review has been half done for a few months now. I will get to it eventually. Just cut me some slack. im just one guy =)

nywytboy68 on March 5, 2008 2:43 AM

Good review. I’ve had this for a couple months and the only complaint I’ve had is the low capacity. Damn,…… bein’ a file hoarder SUCKS (LOL). I’ll cut you slack as long as ya’ review the Sony A720 16gb as soon as ya’ can (within reason – we all have a life I know). The blue-tooth model would also be more than acceptable.

Nerdhead on March 5, 2008 4:04 PM

I ordered one from Sony (less 10,000 reward points!!) and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I was on the fence between this one and the A810 series, but went with this one due to FM tuner and form factor. Questions: (A) Is the firmware upgradable AT ALL? I know the review said not to expect any, but its good to know if it is upgradable (flashable) anyway.(B) I’m not an Apple fan, but I do like the iTunes program, as it’s the only one I know that lets you arrange the order of mp3 songs before shooting it into a device (sadly, only the iPod is supported at this time. Does anyone know any jukeboxes which can also do this, and is usable with the S610?

TP on March 5, 2008 6:45 PM

Great review, everything in it matches my opinions perfectly except the slightly cheap feel to the plastic – at first i thought it was too good to be plastic. I have had one of these for about a month and cannot recommend it more. The 2gb version can be found for $90 and the 4gb for $120. The SQ is amazing, destroys the creatives I’ve had previously, and its screen looks great even on the lowest brightness. No complaints except kicking myself for not getting the 4gb.

solly page on March 5, 2008 8:26 PM

got a 4gig at a big box for 120, souped it up with those lurid green sennheiser sport headphones. sounds great, very easy to use.

Handy on March 17, 2008 1:57 PM

Nice reviews, I have a question regarding the “Although I might say that it is a little too rich in the bass end making the bass sound slightly clouded.”Do you hear the slightly clouded bass even with flat equalizer settings?Thanks you!

dmn86 on March 19, 2008 7:05 PM

liked review very much, but still got one question. i’m bit short on money so i cannot spend more than 50$ on earphones. the ones i have now are cheap closed type sony mdr xd100 which costed me about 25$. is this walkman powerfull enough to play music LOUD with them, or should i look for something else? and if someone can advice me better closed type phones in mentioned price range(better with the same headband style – solid headband seems to make me bold), i’d be very thankfull.

Ceylon on April 2, 2008 2:08 PM

I’ve had this player for 2 months now and I love it. When I was considering purchasing a new player I never considered a Sony until I began to check out all available in the price range. Not sorry for the purchase, the first thing that I did was replaced the headphones with some Skullcandies.

fred on May 23, 2008 6:43 AM

sound quality is certainly impressive.mainly the screen is pretty awesome looking, all mp3 players should have atleast this pixel density, it really spoils you, it looks so nice.my only bugaboos are the lack of progressively increasing seek speeds, not that its a deal killer, it does seek at a reasonable speed. and it should have playlist on the go and bookmarking features.the long battery life esp on video is impressive and convenient. sony has finally done something right!

jam3z cruz on June 2, 2008 8:58 PM

d3z thingz r tightbut i cant g3t any vid30z 0n it

wobble on August 25, 2008 3:50 PM

Had my S616F for a month now.Easy transfer of MP3, FM is out of this world, sound is perfect, jpegs easy to transfer, suffling of music and equalizer is superb and works great with my AKG K240 studio headphones, 50 ohm. This S616 when plugged into wife’s radio car jack, it is music to my years when driving! This player is solid in all applications.This MP3 has most features others don’t have plus has power.

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