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Old 09-19-2009, 01:26 PM
make_or_break make_or_break is offline
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Default Things I hate about the S545

Since I ripped all over my X1061, it's now time to bitchslap the S545, especially since my wife has more or less taken over the X as I await the pending arrival of my Originals Zune HD and I've had some (not completely so) quality time with the new S:

1. Sluggish processor: navigation is woefully hesitant, particularly when moving within the music library. Moving up and down the song or artist listings it's barely noticeable, but when moving across the alphabet (the left and right button navigation), the moving between the letter-to-letter indexes there's an obvious and exceedingly irritating lag. Downmarket this admittedly is, but Sony, did you have to make it SO painfully obvious?

2. Song display kneecapped: since I didn't have a first-gen S, I don't know if this disability is a carryover. What I DO know is with my A-series players I could use the 5-way control and navigate down to at least some the ID3 fields displayed on the song screen AND select them so I could get the entire media content of the artist or the album that's on the player. With the S545 that last capability is absent, though at least I can still nav down to at least get the data fields to autoscroll for any long names within the fields. It's better than the X, where it's IMPOSSIBLE to select any of the ID3 data...guess they forgot to program that in with the touchscreen interface (still ragging on the X...will it EVER stop?).

3. Cheesy materials: no metal here like my earlier Walkmans. Guess that's one of the prices one must pay for Sony to make a relatively cheap Walkman. Plastic, and proud to let you know that fact.

4. Slow transfer speed: I don't get it. Wasn't the X's slow enough? With every subsequent generation isn't the rule supposed to be that things are getting faster?

5. 'Creating Library' BS: every time I awaken this thing from its deep slumber, it goes through this 'creating library' nag, albeit a fairly short one compared to how long the library creation sequence lasted after a 1955-song file transfer onto this player (I swear I saw the brown lawn actually grow several millimeters). However, none of my previous Walkmans went through this extra cycle on bootup; does the S545 have Alzheimer's or something, and need constant reminding that it actually HAS a library?

6. Going back to buttons: I'm ruined for life...now that I've become so used to touchscreens. Okay, so it's not the fault of the S, but the old 5-way controller pad seems so antiquated now. Bad karma.

7. Rattles from the slider switches: the Hold slider is the worst offender, but even the slider for the speaker/headphone selector has a fair bit of play. Really iffy QC. More bad karma. The MP3 equivalent of the 1980s Hyundai Excel? Yugo? 1968 Corvette Stingray? Emulating the ambiance of a POS doesn't score points with me...or probably anyone else. Very Trailer Park. In fact, it's even insulting to said trailer park dwellers.

Of course there's the usual rants about the Walkman firmware (on-the-fly playlist creation, on-the-player delete (in)ability, pain in loading compatible video, etc.), but those are endemic to ALL Walkmans so they don't count. I'm just amazed at how LOW RENT this thing feels, even as I marvel at how the sound is marvelous and the great storage cap for the price.

Sony...you ARE a tough one to figure out...
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Last edited by make_or_break; 09-19-2009 at 01:31 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-19-2009, 02:41 PM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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1. Don't notice this at all.

2. Not an issue IMO. If I want to see everything from the artist that's on my player, I'd go to the artist menu, not the song menu.

3. Not concerned....I started out with Sansa players, so I'm used to plastic.

4. It does take forever to load up, I'll grant you that.

5. I just woke mine up after it's being off for 12 hours....the library process you describe took about 3.5 seconds.....so not an issue for me.

6. This control pad beats the hell out of the one on my Samsung Q2.

7. No rattle on mine.

I haven't had another Walkman since the days when they had cassette Walkmans, so I am quite pleased.
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Old 09-19-2009, 03:11 PM
IanW IanW is offline
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The sluggish processor is definitely annoying. When I hit the back button, I expect it to respond immediately.

In comparison to the A728, the buttons are incredibly clumsy - I can't find my way around it in the dark, and I'm constantly hitting something wrong and ending up where I don't want to be. But I guess I'll have to get used to that, since that button system appears to be where Sony is headed. Pity, since the A-series buttons were much better, IMO.

The cheesy plastic feel is also a negative, but I can live with that for the price and features.

The sound is very good for the price, but I still have issues with it. When I analyze it, I can hear things that are better in the S545 than the A-series - a bit more detail and a nicer soundstage (and the A-series already had a nice soundstage). But something about the sound just leaves me strangely cold. Instead of getting involved with the music as I do on the A728, I just kinda watch it go by and listen to it analytically, instead of emotionally. I think the A-series may just have a better DAC, or at least one that appeals to me more. If I can't solve this problem somehow (maybe access to a service menu?), I think I'm going to have to return it. That's a real shame, since I love the ability to record from FM - especially classical and jazz concerts on NPR. I suppose I should just bite the bullet and get the X1060.
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Old 09-19-2009, 07:39 PM
whiteout628 whiteout628 is offline
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I was seriously considering this player... until I read some of these issues.

1. How slow is the processor? My Creative Zen Vision took forever (not exagerating) to go through the artist menu. There was at least a second lag after you pressed the button to go down that it would actually scroll. If you kept pressing the down button, you would have to guess how many times you pressed it to get to the artist you want. Then, it would keep scrolling through artists until it thought it had caught up, usually overshooting whatever you wanted by at least 3 or 4 rows. Pissed me off to no end.

There are 3 differing opinions on this. How noticeable is it?

5. The startup on the Vision was absolutely horrible. I think it took at least 25 seconds from the time you turned it on to get to the main menu. It went from the Creative screen, to the Zen screen, to the animated Zen Vision screen. sitting at each for about 5 seconds. That was another thing that pissed me off about it.

Again, with differing opinions on this, is it really that bad? Is it at least better than the Zen Vision?
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:10 AM
make_or_break make_or_break is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteout628 View Post
I was seriously considering this player... until I read some of these issues.

1. How slow is the processor? My Creative Zen Vision took forever (not exagerating) to go through the artist menu. There was at least a second lag after you pressed the button to go down that it would actually scroll. If you kept pressing the down button, you would have to guess how many times you pressed it to get to the artist you want. Then, it would keep scrolling through artists until it thought it had caught up, usually overshooting whatever you wanted by at least 3 or 4 rows. Pissed me off to no end.

There are 3 differing opinions on this. How noticeable is it?

5. The startup on the Vision was absolutely horrible. I think it took at least 25 seconds from the time you turned it on to get to the main menu. It went from the Creative screen, to the Zen screen, to the animated Zen Vision screen. sitting at each for about 5 seconds. That was another thing that pissed me off about it.

Again, with differing opinions on this, is it really that bad? Is it at least better than the Zen Vision?
No experience on the Zen Vision, so I can't make a legit comparison. From what I'd been experiencing the cold bootup on the S545 isn't 25 seconds...more like 10-12 seconds at most...maybe (though to be honest I haven't timed it). But the overall boot time is noticeably slower than that of my old A-series Walkmans.

As for the sluggish menu refreshes...my old A829 refreshed to a new screen instantaneously. The S545 pauses a bit as I scroll up or down a long listing right when the cursor gets to the edge of the screen...not horrible but still a somewhat jerky user experience. However where it IS bad to me is when the menu navigation is in the side-to-side direction. I don't know how familiar you are with the Sony UI; it uses left-to-right screen motions to advance through the contents of the library using the alphanumerics as the indexing (0-9, A, B, C, etc.), so you can avoid having to scroll one song title or artist at a time from A through to whatever letter the song or artist title starts with. It's these index listing refreshes that lag badly; the sideways page scrolls always seem to hesitate a second or so before refreshing to the index list that the UI is now pointing at. If I hit the 5-way control several times in quick succession, it's enough of a disruptive lag that I'll easily lose track of how far I've gone down the alphabet index. Again, the indexes on my old A829 Walkman refreshes virtually right away, so it's far easier to pace of just how far I'm navigating. Even scrolling up and down lists of songs or artists is smooth and relatively lag-free on the old player; not so with the S545. Definitely less processing/graphical power in the newer S545.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin the Martian View Post
2. Not an issue IMO. If I want to see everything from the artist that's on my player, I'd go to the artist menu, not the song menu.
It's not about navigating from the song menu to anywhere else, but navigating 'sideways' from the 'now playing' screen for the active song, as I can do on my old A829. As I mentioned in an earlier post someplace on the site, I usually start listening using random play of all of the material on the player. If along the way in the listening session I hit upon a song that strikes my fancy (say Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway To Heaven', for instance), from the song I can simply navigate directly to all of the songs by that artist by using the 5-way pad and simply scrolling down the screen to select the artist. Or if I want to listen to the entire album that the song is from (Led Zep 4), I only have to do is nav down an extra click on the 5-way to the album title on the 'now playing' screen and select that. Or if suddenly I want to listen to the specific genre (Classic Rock; well, at least that's how I categorize such stuff in my library) that the song is representative of, I nav down another click to the genre on the song's display and select the genre, and all of the artists that fit that genre will show up on the refreshed screen.

There's no hitting the back button to climb back out of the hierarchical menu tree, or holding the back button and going back to the home screen and picking the right search/selection path to head back down...it's all done right at the 'now playing' screen...easy to pick, easy to gain direct access. Amazing how much I really miss that that convenience feature while using the X or the S. Considering that this design was available on Walkmans from two years ago, it's bloody sad that it was written out of the firmware with their most recent models that are currently available here in the States.
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  #6  
Old 12-20-2009, 12:20 PM
dmnoland dmnoland is offline
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Make or Break, Thank you for your excellent review. Based on your review, I ended up buying the older S639 Friday instead. I also have an old A series, A728, and your complaints are exactly the same mine were when I bought a E series walkman. I am at a complete loss as to why Sony players keep getting worse and worse with each new generation. They strip useful features and the processors are actually slower. My S639 is almost a carbon copy of my A728, feature wise and SQ. My only problem is such low capacity. Other then that, they are both perfect and far better then anything Sony has released in the USA this year or last including the very slow and expensive X series (which I sent through the washing machine last week). Why must Sony continue to go backwards. I cannot continue to buy older stuff, I need 64gb or more.
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:43 PM
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When I felt the new S Series buttons at futureshop... i was deeply disappointed. I could barely feel the buttons had I not been looking at it.
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Old 12-21-2009, 03:32 PM
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Make Or Break...

Wow, I was just cruising this board, read your post and had to respond. I could have written the whole thing myself! As a matter of fact I have already posted a few times on my love/hate relationship with a new Sony device.

I actually am new to Sony mp3 players, but have had many other brands for more years than I can remember. No other device I have ever owned has inspired as much ambivalence as this Sony does.

I recently bought a Sony E345/16GB [$86.00 USD out the door in NYC from J&R] primarily to replace/augment my trusty Creative Zen V 8GB.

I couldn't agree with you more on just about every one of your points. As a matter of fact, I feel totally vindicated in my decision to go with the lower priced, but nearly identical E345 vs. the S series. I knew the speakers on the S would be crappy/useless for me and I don't care/need voice/FM recording or the slightly enhanced sound processing features [I like my mp3's "pure" thank you very much]...

I won't recap your excellent comments but here are mine in brief [on the E series, but since the E and S seem to be fraternal if not nearly identical twins, I think my comments are still relevant here and feel OK posting on this board]:

E345 is AWESOME:

- price/capacity/form-factor/battery life equation: can't be beat IMO;

- design/quality: pretty good, again can't be beat for price;

- audio quality: excellent as expected from Sony;

- great screen, acceptable but quirky navigation;

- universal USB mini charging: no dock means charge anywhere with cable.


E345 is HORRIBLE:

- inability to DELETE media from device: TOTALLY INEXCUSABLE! I have to connect to a PC to delete songs? I'm sorry, isn't this a PORTABLE mp3 player???

- inability to APPEND songs to NOW PLAYING queue, forcing either/or situation: UNBELIEVABLE in a modern device! So if I am listening to Michael Jackson's Thriller album and want to add Off The Wall to the Now Playing Queue, I can't? What moron engineered this? How did this idea get sold internally at Sony???

- inability to perform BASIC playlist creation/editing functions on the device: TERRIBLE! RIDICULOUS! Again, this is a PORTABLE mp3 player right?

There are other nitpicky issues I have [incomplete ID3 tag viewing, extremely limited/finicky video format support], but I don't really count these against the device since it is an "entry-level" device.

Thus, my ambivalence.

I am mainly frustrated - not having previous Sony mp3 experience, I really am truly surprised at the shortcomings on the E-series [and apparently the sister S-series]. And honestly, Sony could have had a REAL WINNER with these devices had they just gotten these BASICS right! All of my problems with the E-345 could pretty easily be solved via a simple firmware upgrade, but I have learned that Sony typically doesn't issue many of these. And yes, I have whined long, hard and often at Sony Tech Support on these very issues. Still, I continue to hope...


Bottom line:

If you are shopping for the S-series, be sure you want/need the "added features". Otherwise, the E-series will save you a significant chunk of change and you will be getting the same essential device.

So Make Or Break, you are my brother from another mother on this...you are not alone my friend...

<gosh, I feel soooo much better every time I rant about this!...>

ps: oh, the library refresh doesn't bother me too much...from what I understand, this used to be a HUGE problem in previous Sony devices. The few seconds I experience is fine [16GB filled, approx. 2000 songs], though I am not quite sure WHY the device library needs to be refreshed all the time. Again, a user-controlled option to do this would have been great.

cheers!
-lestatar

Last edited by lestatar; 12-21-2009 at 03:39 PM.
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  #9  
Old 12-21-2009, 07:26 PM
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@lestatar

I think the "portable" part of "Portable Music Player" referred to listening to songs portably, not deleting songs on the go
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:26 PM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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@ Curiouss...
That's what I thought it meant.
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curiouss View Post
@lestatar

I think the "portable" part of "Portable Music Player" referred to listening to songs portably, not deleting songs on the go
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin the Martian View Post
@ Curiouss...
That's what I thought it meant.
I can still agree about the inability to create playlists on the go, as well as not being able to delete directly from the device. I wish these were stock features on ALL Sony dap's. Sadly, it's not.
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:37 PM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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I'd like a dedicated delete button. Don't like a song? One push with eyes on the road. Gone!!

But lets be honest. For the price, other manufacturers are giving 8gb, sony gives 16gb with much better sound. Try lossless and see if you don't agree. With double the storage, use double the quality format.

For the price, I like it very much. And honestly, I just want to listen to quality sound, not play with the darn thing. I can see having a small pile of them, change players like changing a cd, each with it's own style of music .

Can't work the buttons by feel? You are the problem. That tactile bump allows me to work mine, and not only are my fingers thick skinned and calloused, I have a double wrap of saran (plastic) wrap around the player because of the snow blowing in the truck windows. And I can work it fairly well with gloves on.

I like the plastic, it's so light, and the headphone jack fits so snug, I can't shake it off. It dangles by the wire just fine, so no dropping off roofs. And if it did fall, light is way better than heavy, ditto in your pocket. Don't know it's there, so thin and light.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:08 PM
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Folks, thanks for chiming in...

re: the definition of "portable"...I generally agree with your interpretation.

BUT...

IMO, not being able to delete songs/media from the device is akin to RIM telling me I have to connect my BB to my computer in order to delete unwanted emails.

Come on!

This is 2010, NOT 1990. This is what I mean by BASIC functionality. Sony clearly missed the boat here and I will never be convinced otherwise, so phoooey on you guys...

What about the "append" to the now playing queue? My 7 year old Creative Labs Zen Xtra ["brickpod" as my friends call it] has this feature! Again, clear miss by Sony, even on a "basic" device. Sure, maybe not everyone needs this, but I have a tough time living without it. And I am making a reasonable guess that something like this would be easy to implement [almost as easy as being able to delete songs on the device].

As for fit/finish/materials: For the price, I really don't think you can beat it the E345. Super snug headphone jack [as mentioned], ultra slim/small, good weight and balance. I don't expect an anodized aluminum case for this price and on this score, I am extremely pleased.

So again, not really whining about the E345 in total dissatisfaction [ok, maybe whining a little!]...like I said, just really FRUSTRATED and unpleasantly surprised by the little things that Sony missed. An example of a completely missed opportunity to score a true winner.

Happy holidays folks and thanks for chiming in!

cheers,
-lestatar
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Old 12-22-2009, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curiouss View Post
@lestatar

I think the "portable" part of "Portable Music Player" referred to listening to songs portably, not deleting songs on the go
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin the Martian View Post
@ Curiouss...
That's what I thought it meant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The DarkSide View Post
I can still agree about the inability to create playlists on the go, as well as not being able to delete directly from the device. I wish these were stock features on ALL Sony dap's. Sadly, it's not.
I doubt Sony is gonna make a "just-right" PMP any time soon
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