Sony Walkman E340 Review

sony walkman e340 Sony Walkman E340 Review

With the S540 review out of the way, it’s time to shift focus to its baby brother, the E340. How does it compare to the S540?

  • Quick Look
  • Capacities: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB
  • Screen: 2” QVGA 240×320 LCD
  • Size: 44.5 x 88.9 x 9.5mm
  • Weight: 54g
  • Supported Audio: MP3, WMA, AAC-LC, Linear PCM
  • Supported Video: MPEG-4, h.264, WMV (DRM) @ 320×240
  • Battery Life: 30 hours music, 4 hours video
  • Transfer Modes: MTP
  • User Interface: Tactile
  • Sound enhancements: Clear bass, Clear Stereo, Equalizer, Dynamic Normalizer
  • Other Features: FM Radio, alarm, sleep timer
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Sony players

I’ve reviewed a lot of Sony players here on ABi and find myself repeating myself every time. Sony, while making great players, use the same basic OS, same basic menus, same basic more or less concept with each new device. I end up trying to remember to include everything in every review, but I keep forgetting things because I’ve covered it 10 times before. If you want a Sony player, you’re probably looking at the different models anyways, so with doing the S540 review last week I’m going to do this one based on that and talk about the differences and similarities instead of treating this as a completely new device – because it’s not. Here on ABi we try to create a network of cross referenced reviews to cover all players and a support network of features and guides to support those, so treating players this alike as completely different players goes against that. Therefor, read the S540 review before this one to get a better picture of these two rather similar players.

In the box

The box contains the bare minimum; cheap earbuds, USB cable and the player. The software is all on the player, and since the E340 actually uses mini-USB instead of the Sony proprietary connector there’s no dock adapter either as it won’t work in the Sony docks. It also lacks the video stand that the S540 comes with. No dock connector shouldn’t impact too many people and a lot of people will probably go with the E340 because it has mini-USB, making it a lot easier to charge and sync the player without bringing a seperate cable. There are some peripherals that use the dock connector however, such as a Bluetooth adapter and mini speaker, but I doubt many people would use these anyways.

Design

The general look of t
he player is somewhat like a smaller version of the S540. The bottom has the same curved designed that the S540 has, but the top is a flat slope. It has no speaker so there are no speaker grills in the E340, so the design is all plastic. The main chassis is divided into two parts where the bottom part with the buttons is a single solid piece of plastic that is seemingly held in place by two exposed screws on the back. After trying if this was indeed the case I can tell you that it’s not that simple (luckiy, as such screws sometimes fall out over time). While my player is black all over, there are version of this player that has a different color for the top and bottom, such as the 16GB model sold on Sonystyle. I’m personally not a fan of such designs and prefer one single color. The top is hard plastic as well and consists of a black casing that serves as the back, half the sides and the bezel of the screen, with a clear plastic cover that goes on top of that again. This makes the top part seem more shiny than the bottom and create different shades of black even on the completely black model. I’m personally not a fan of shiny plastic at all and I have to say I miss the days of matte plastic or even better- brushed aliminium, as you really shouldn’t have the ability to use the back of your MP3 player as a mirror. The S540 with it’s matte plastic black, metal speaker grills and clear plastic cover had a better feel to it in my opinion. Again, might be just me.

Leaving the colors to rest, the button placement is more or less the same as on the S540. The S540 and the E340 are both generation 4 devices, which is apparently the age of Mickey Mouse. Like the S540, the E340 has a d-pad and main navigation buttons formed like Mickey Mouse’s head. This unfortunately also means it has the same useless buttons that the S540 has, lacking any sort of usable knob-like marking that indicates where your finger is on the d-pad. It is however larger than the S540, which is ironic since the player itself is noticeably smaller than its bigger brother, so it’s slightly better to use than the S540 d-pad. It’s still very annoying to navigate using this d-pad and you will hit the wrong button. A lot. Sony used to have such nice buttons back in the days of the S610, A810 and A820/A720, I don’t know what designer they hired that decided that buttons needed to be close to flush with the player. It’s not a touchpad, Sony, don’t treat it like one.

The hold switch and the volume buttons are located on the left side, though the E340 is missing the speaker switch of the S540 since it has no speakers. The bottom has the 3.5mm jack, lanyard hole and the mini-USB connector, the latter of which seems somewhat out of place being dead center and having a lot of empty space on either side. Most companies that use this form factor, including SanDisk, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung all use proprietary connectors, so having a simple (yet so useful) mini-USB port on the bottom of a player just looks so out of place- like a Chinese copy, somewhat. The rest of the player is clean, with no additional buttons or anything besides the rest hole on the back.

While the looks of the player is one thing, the actual feel of it is quite nice. It feels solid and well made, without any creaking from bad plastic molds or anything like that. The shape of it with the smooth back and front makes it feel much more like an MP3 player than the S540 does, the latter of which felt like a PSP when holding it sideways and an old school microphone when holding it upright. One thing I want to point out however is that while containing no speakers, the E340 is almost as thick as the S540. Remembering back to the S630 it was a lot slimmer, albeit felt less sturdy due to that fact as well. It’s still not a thick player, and only really feel thick compared to the older S630.

Features

Radio

Like the S540 the E340 has an FM radio, but being the smaller brother it does lack the FM recording feature. Other than that the radio is pretty much identical to that on the S540, which means it’s a nice radio with good sound and decent reception.

Video

While the E340 has a smaller screen than it’s bigger brother (2″ vs 2.4″) it has the same resolution at 240×320. This makes for a very sharp screen that works great for a few quick videos, even though I wouldn’t call either a very big contender for the video player market. Unfortunately the E340 shares the S540′s bad viewing angle, where if the screen is tilted with the top towards you (left side towards you if in landscape mode) at all you will get messed up contrast. I have devices with perfect 180 degree viewing angles so I’m tired of seeing companies use bad screens on their products, it certainly doesn’t give them a nice reputation.

In use

Back in the S540 review I mentioned how Sony is very adamant about there being 9 icons on the main menu; no more, no less. With players that have a lot of features such as the S630 this means somewhat awkward sub-menus, and with the S540 and the E340 it means some redundant icons. The S540 has voice recording, which the E340 don’t. As a result, the E340 has what I would describe as the most useless main menu icon in the history of MP3 players; a clock icon. That’s right, one of the 9 main icons on the E340 has a single function which is to display the clock. Consistency is one thing Sony, but the redundant icons have to end. Make the last icon customizable instead, allowing people to add their own shortcut to for example artists/folder browsing, or maybe equalizer etc- whatever floats their boat.

The E340 is also lacking the “built in SP optimizer” setting compared to the S540, but other than that the menus, settings- everything is the same. I’m not sure wther the S540 isn’t premium enough, or if it’s the E340 that’s not basic enough, but there’s not really that much difference between these players at all.

Software

The E340 uses the exact same system of transfer as the S540, including software. Despite having a mini-USB connector, it’s still MTP by default in Windows (which kinda makes sense as this enables it to be used with Sony’s software). It supports the same formats both for video and audio.

Sound quality

When testing the sound quality of players I use a self-built A/B switch that lets me play the same song on two players and then have both connected to the same headphones and switch between them. Most MP3 players today sound “good enough”, which is basically a way of saying there’s so little difference that 99% of the people buying a player should in most cases not worry about getting the best sounding one as there are other factors that are a lot more important. With the E340 and the S540, the A/B test confirmed what I already expected: the two sound the same. Exactly the same. More so, the “SP optimizer” that the E340 is missing didn’t seem to make any difference to the sound quality at all, certainly not enough for anyone to care. Bottom line, the E340 is as well sounding a player as its bigger brother.

Conclusion

The E340 is for all intents and purposes a somewhat limited version of the S540. For $30 less, you get a smaller player (with a smaller screen) that lacks a voice recorder, FM recording, video stand and speakers as well as having a mini-USB port instead of the proprietary dock connector and a shorter battery life. It all comes down to whether you want the “premium” features of the S540 or not, as otherwise you can just as well go with the E340. In fact, I know quite a few people who would choose the E340 for the mini-USB alone. At $80 for the 8GB and $100 for the 16GB, the E340 is excellent value for the money, giving you a very capable player with plenty capacity for an awesome price. It has great sound quality, decent battery life, a small form factor and video playback as well as the legendary Sony firmware stability.

Pros

  • Price
  • Sound Quality
  • Mini-USB connector

Cons

  • Buttons are close to useless
  • Could have had better battery life
  • Looks like Mickey Mouse

Purchase

Amazon normally has the best prices for MP3 players and at the time of this writing the 16GB E340 can be had for $95.

Forum

For support and other questions, please refer to our E-series forum.

26 Comments

Joe Edwards on October 29, 2009 5:00 PM

I am waiting on the NW-A847!!!

kiyu727 on October 29, 2009 6:22 PM

Count me in !wheres my A847 DxI really like Sony Walkman but I really never considered the E series as part of it … just seemed kinda out of the image ..

MarvintheMartian on October 29, 2009 10:19 PM

The “SP Optimizer” is only for the use of the speakers on the S540.Good to hear the sound quality and the features that matter to me are the same with the two players. I may buy an E340 next spring as a beater, given the smaller form factor.

Voohoo on October 30, 2009 12:41 AM

i’ve been looking at the Zune HD and Sony X Walkman. the Zune is very appealing but i’ve been leaning towards the X-series just for the sound quality. but right now money is pretty tight for me so i think that a basic player with good SQ is all i need. what i want to know is how the E34o sounds compared to the X-series. if things look good this holiday and the price of the X-series goes down then i might give in and spring for the X-series.

xmas gifts on October 30, 2009 3:03 AM

According to me this walkmna has a Brilliant screen, amazing sound quality, awesome touch response, battery life is more than decent.I love to have a this type of walkman like x series.

warisz00r on October 30, 2009 3:11 AM

Never seen this model before… here in Malaysia Sony only has E44x series instead of this. Same stuff, but with voice and radio recording and Sony’s WM-Port instead of mini USB connector.

kikumbob on October 30, 2009 8:52 AM

“…whatever fancies their boat.”I believe the phrase is “Whatever floats their boat”. It sounds a bit silly otherwise :p

Andreas Ødegård on October 30, 2009 1:27 PM

@kikumbob lol yes indeed. fixed :)

Corey on November 1, 2009 4:20 AM

I too am very interested in the NW-A847. I _need_ a flash player with excellent sound quality (for my UE10 Pro’s) and at LEAST 64GB of flash memory (I’d prefer ~100GB, but I’d get by with 64). I need something to finally replace my aging iRiver H140 (with 80GB mod) lol :)

Esad on November 1, 2009 4:36 AM

I have some question about this mp3.1. Can I use this as a flash disk?2. Does the battery lasts long enough? I am planning to listen 1 hour a day.

YU GI on November 1, 2009 11:24 AM

IS the new s series louder than x series or the opposite ?sorry for bad english….:|

sid on November 1, 2009 12:35 PM

Im sure its been answered before, but what is Sony’s release schedule regarding which series gets released in which region? I am after a high quality walkman and dont give a crap about video playback, only sound quality so I would like it as compact as possible. Will we be getting the new S640 in UK? That looked nice =)

Andreas Ødegård on November 1, 2009 3:46 PM

To everyone waiting for the A840, S640- you can stop waiting. Sony has completely seperate players for the asian and european/us markets, and while the model numbers sound similar the clue is in the first part of the model number. NW- players are asia, NWZ- are us/europe. So far, no player has been released in both markets without some modification (normally major modification and dropped features)(W series might be the exception but noone cares about that one anyways), and also sony has never released the same generation players on different dates, so whatever comes to europe/us in terms of something similar to the S640 or A840 will at best be called S650 and A850 if they ever make it here.

The Corinthian on November 6, 2009 2:52 AM

I “upgraded” to this model from an old 2GB NWZ-S615F. While it’s hard to beat the value for this price point, I have to agree with all of the criticisms mentioned in the review. A few things to add:1. The two forward edges on the bottom half of the player (where the buttons are) are very sharply bevelled, making it rather uncomfortable to turn over in your hands. I actually thought it was a manufacturing defect at first.2. The UI responsiveness is noticeably worse coming out of standby than previous models. Boo!3. Drag-n-drop transfer speed is still pathetically slow.4. If for some reason you want to disassemble this model, you need to ease your fingernails under the main directional pad (the two smaller buttons are attached to the middle one) and carefully lift the whole thing up towards you. The buttons are basically held in place with glue. You’ll find a metal retainer underneath held by four tiny screws that need to be removed. In addition to the two screws on the back, this should let you to separate the top part from the bottom.

tds on November 8, 2009 11:41 AM

The Corinthian, I also own a NWZ-618f and am thinking about upgrading it to the new E series. In terms of audio quality, is the new E series a better sounding walkmam than a NWZ-615f? Thanks.

The Corinthian on November 8, 2009 2:00 PM

They basically sound the same. The E340 dropped the VPT Surround options (Studio, Live, Club, etc.) which I didn’t use much anyways, but it’s a clear sign that this is a budget model.Honestly I’m thinking of returning mine since it doesn’t feel like much of an upgrade. You may want to explore your other options as well.

tds on November 8, 2009 5:36 PM

Thanks for letting me know. I will explore other options then.

r4 revolution on November 9, 2009 12:58 AM

Great Screen, Build, User Interface, Slack & Caching, Podcast downloader on player, Tactile buttons on top, Wi-Fi, Top Sound Quality, Noise Canceling, Battery Life..

Andreas on December 2, 2009 12:24 PM

Hi,is this player able to play videos with higher resolutions than the display resolutions?Or would I have to recode my videos (dvdrips) so they would play?Thank you :-)

Andreas Ødegård on December 2, 2009 1:40 PM

@ANdreas: Not only do they HAVE to be the screen resolution, but even then it’s extremely picky about what it can handle. Getting video on it is a nightmare. I’d recommend another device that can do it natively. Cowon S9 or Samsung p3 – depending on format, S9 doesnt do h264 that well (yet)

Ken on December 19, 2009 8:21 AM

I am getting the Sony Walkman E340 for Christmas, and I have a question, does anybody know if the USB Cable is supposed to be like that, or what? But you know what they say, “The TV adds 10 pounds.” Can somebody please tell me. Thanks

garchomp4ever on January 30, 2010 10:25 PM

what are the exact specifications to add video tell me like step by step and is there a limit to the time the video is

Ranjith on May 26, 2010 10:45 AM

My Sony MP3 stopped functioning just after the 1 year guarantee period. The service center identified it as PCB problem. Have to pay the cost of a new item to have it repaired.

afslug on October 8, 2010 11:11 PM

Does this “E340″ series have the “rebuild library every startup” issue?

afslug on October 10, 2010 12:36 AM

Get video is very easy. Use the free software “any video converter”, use the “customized mp4″ profile, the settings are x264 codec for video, aac for audio, a 256 bitrate is enough, set resolution 320×240. All those setting are on a right panel.

Swilly on November 3, 2010 7:53 AM

So i picked one up. MAN I should have just gotten a cowon j3… The more I use this the more depressed I get. I had the Sony NWZ-A816, and man was that a great player.

This piece of garbage can’t even have its backlight time adjusted, I’m pretty sure that it’s 30 seconds. Not to mention the buttons absolutely suck. The reason I’d get a player that’s not touch screen is for better blind operation. Nope, that’s a fail with this player. Of course, sound quality is great, but there is a lack of immediacy with this player. The buttons make things feel like there’s a delay, and the screen has a delay when you press buttons. Finally, it has to rebuild the library every time you start it up…

I’d return this player if I could, though that’s probably not possible (I got it at the Walmart). Oh well, it’ll be my beater player until the J3 goes down in price or something

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