Q: I am finally ready to cross that bridge and get me a touch-screen player. I wanted to know your expert opinion on the Samsung P3 and the Sony Walkman X-Series. I purchase all my music from Napster, Amazon and some from Rhapsody. I use Window Media Player 11, so I need a player that is compatible with that. Please let me know what you think. -- bensworld411, via e-mail
A: Although I've only used a preproduction sample of the X-Series Walkman, I can tell you that I favor it over the Samsung P3. Granted, the X-Series is quite a bit pricier, but I personally prefer the onscreen interface and touch-screen implementation (though the P3's is certainly flashy). I also straight-up love the fact that the Walkman has tactile buttons on the top for controlling playback (say, while you have the player in your pocket). Both devices will work equally well with the system you use for music, and both offer excellent sound quality.
Really, I would narrow it down to two things: price and whether you prefer Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. If you want a cheaper device that includes the ability to sync up Bluetooth headphones, go with the P3. If you want something with a slicker interface that has Wi-Fi and built-in Slacker capability (free music!), go with the Walkman. Better yet, if you can hold off a few more days, I'm expecting a retail unit of the X-Series to be delivered to my desk tomorrow, which means we'll have a full review up for you very soon.
Q: After reading your take on the NWZ-S638F (8GB), dated October 28, 2008, I am almost convinced to purchase this, but I wanted your opinion on this unit at $119.99 versus the NWZ-S716 (4GB) with armband and protective black rubber case at $83.98. I was all ready to buy the NWZ-S716F until I read your opinion on the S638. Now I'm deciding between these 2 Sony units, or the Sansa Fuze, either 4GB or 8GB (not as important since these have memory expansion). Help me with my decision. I will be using these mainly for music and FM radio. Thanks for your time -- Tim, via e-mail
A: The S638 Walkman is essentially a follow-up to the S716. The former (which doesn't have the integrated noise-canceling capability found throughout the rest of the S-Series) offers an updated interface with great podcast management as well as a dedicated Rhapsody Channels section and a smart playlist creator called SensMe Channels. If you don't listen to podcasts, don't use Rhapsody To Go, and don't really care about a smart playlist creator, the S716 is a fine option--though it's a bit dated, it still offers excellent audio quality and a fantastic battery life. And you're getting a bit of a deal with the armband and case bundled in, although I'd recommend getting the 8GB S718 if you that is an option, since Sony players don't have memory expansion.
While I think the Sansa Fuze is a great player that offers an exceptional value, I prefer the Walkmans because of the higher-quality construction, the slicker interfaces, and the more impressive audio quality. However, really any of the players you mentioned would be a suitable option for simple music and FM radio playback.