As my dad watched my daughter washing his car last sunny Saturday, he notice she was listening to music. Those white earbud headphones dangled their thin cord to a pocket in her shorts.
He asked me what she was listening to, so we showed him the iPod. "This 4GB model," I explained, "holds about 60 CDs worth of music."
My dad didn't think he had that much music to listen to, but the idea intrigued him. "I could use something like that when I drive my tractor [up north on his small farm]."
I knew exactly which one to get him. I'd been eyeing Sony's relatively new NWZ-S615F digital media player, because I liked its diminutive size and -- most important -- tactile controls.
While I wish that Japanese companies would learn from Apple's naming scheme, I am glad Sony ignored Apple's drive to reduce the hardware parts count by eliminating buttons that you can feel before you press. (My Zen Micro MP3 player suffers from that, too: just feeling for a control causes it to be activated.)
The Sony has distinct buttons for volume, play/pause, back, and options. A four-way controller surrounds the mildly protruding play/pause button.
I went comparison shopping on the Web, and found that most places charged the same price for the 2GB model -- $100 at London Drugs, Sears, Staples, and so on. FutureShop doesn't carry it, but BestBuy.ca had it for $10 cheaper than the rest.
I bought it for him, and set up the options. Likes and dislikes:
-- nice size (thin and not too small), with rubberized backing.
-- controllers work blind.
-- screen is small but very clear, bright, and colorful!
-- 33 hours playback of music; charges through the computer's USB port.
-- plays back MP4 videos, which can be downloaded from Google Video and others.
-- drag and drop to load it with any kind of file.
-- user interface has a beautiful design.
-- manual does not explain everything.
-- includes a plastic base that doesn't keep the player upright.
-- the Skip-to-next-track function is vague to me.
-- doesn't have an accelerometer for automatically rotating pictures and videos between portrait and landscape.
-- lacks the ability to erase files.
If I didn't already have a suitable MP3 player (ie, my three year old Zen Micro), then I'd get this one for myself, but I'd get the 8GB model. (2GB is sufficient for my dad.)