Sony NWZ-S738 Walkman

An excellent player equipped with noise-cancelling and a wealth of customisation options, the S738 is poised to take on the iPod Nano.

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The NWZ-S730 series is available in two capacities: a $229 8GB version (known as the S738) and a $289 16GB version (the NWZ-S739). Each one looks very similar to the previous model in Sony's MP3 line-up, the NWZ-A728. The main difference is in the buttons under the display — the tiny rectangular Back and Option keys on the A728 have thankfully been replaced by larger, more finger-friendly circles. It's the same story with the navigation button, which is circular instead of square. The only downside to the redesign is that you may need to train your thumb to get out of scrollwheel mode.

The S730 range shares its screen specs with the new iPod Nanos: both have a 2-inch (5.1-centimetre), 320x240-pixel, portrait-oriented display. Unlike the Apple player, the S738 is not equipped with an accelerometer, but you can easily flip videos and pictures to landscape mode by pressing the Option button during playback. Left-handers will be pleased to note that there are two horizontal orientations to choose from.

On the right of the S738 are dedicated volume buttons — always a winner — and a hold switch. The bottom of the player houses a noise-cancelling switch, a proprietary port for USB connection and the headphone socket. Dimension-wise the S738 is the slimmest Walkman yet at 7.5 millimetres thick. That's 1.3 millimetres fatter than the Nano, for the sticklers out there.

The big feature of the S730 range is that each device has built-in noise-cancelling — not built into the headphones, but lurking in the circuitry of the player itself. Sony claims that activating the function reduces up to 75 per cent of the surrounding noise, which is a bonus for train commuters and frequent flyers.

The S730 series supports MP3, WMA, protected WMA, WAV and AAC audio formats. The inclusion of AAC widens the options for online music purchases — as well as being able to buy from WMA services like LoadIt and BigPond Music, you can buy iTunes Plus songs from the iTunes Store. The protected AAC files that make up the bulk of the iTunes catalogue are still incompatible though.

SensMe, a music analyser last seen on Sony Ericsson's Walkman phones, categorises your songs according to mood and BPM, allowing you quick access to playlists full of similar-sounding tunes. A similar feature known as Genius has recently been introduced to the iPod line-up.

If you dig tinkering with settings and customising your player to within an inch of its life, you'll be satisfied with the S738. The list of options in the audio settings menu is truly impressive, incorporating preset and custom equalisers, virtual surround, a dynamic normaliser, DSEE sound enhancement and a clear stereo setting. Add all these to the noise cancellation and you've got a smorgasbord of choices for optimising your music library. It's a similar story with the other settings: you can choose from 10 menu themes or set any image as the wallpaper.

First things first: the S738 sounds fantastic. Even without any of the whiz-bang options or noise-cancelling activated, music is full-bodied and vibrant. Flick the noise-cancel switch and the surrounding hubbub will be quelled, but in its place comes a subtle fuzzing sound that some will find annoying. This is not particular to the player, it's the hallmark of active noise-cancellation. Most people quickly get used to the sensation, but a small percentage of the population are driven batty by the subtle hiss.

SensMe is fun to play with, and the categorisation of your songs by mood and time of day is handy for accessing suitable playlists on the go, but the feature is not as precise or flexible as Genius. You can't, for instance, build an instant playlist around one song because you're limited to pre-determined groupings of your tunes.

We found the ring of navigation buttons surrounding the play/pause key a little puny for our thumbs, and not quite as user-friendly as a scrollwheel. Still, it's a better mode of navigation than the slow-going touch-sensitive buttons you'll find on the Samsung T10 and S3.

Finding your way around the menus of the S738 is dead easy. Everything is laid out neatly and logically, and you don't have to delve into layers and layers of menus to find what you're looking for. Crucially, there is also no lag when viewing photo slideshows or watching videos.

The S730 series is a stellar release from Sony, and the players are well-positioned to compete with the iPod Nano. Though they cost more than the equivalent capacity Nanos, they should draw buyers' attention with their plentiful customisation options, built-in FM radio and — the main drawcard — in-built noise cancellation. This last feature should appeal to audiophiles who have been disappointed by the sound quality on Apple's devices.

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vala posted a review   

The Good:everything

The Bad:nothing

greatest mp3 player in the world


Todd posted a review   

The Good:everything

The Bad:none

sony is the best for mp3 player


rocketscientist posted a review   

I like it.


jimmylogo posted a review   

The Good:*Great sound quality
*Large bright screen
*Slim design
*Competitive price
*Good battery life

The Bad:*Buttons feel cheap
*Unique USB cord
*Searching tracks complicated

The button panel to me looks a little basic for a player of this price but is still on a apar with many other players in its class. Its sound quality is far better than any of apples creations (this is not hard) and I think it is getting close to the quality found on a Creative (this is much harder). With or without the supplied head phones this player will take your breath away. I enjoy the large bright screen and so far it seems pretty scratch resistant. I seem to manage to lose USB cords esecially when travelling so not having a generic USB cord is somewhat of a concern for me but not a major problem. The battery life is very good even if you flicking a round playlists ect. I'm finding around 20hours. My only other comment would be that the track listings at first are a little odd if you are used to iRiver, iPod or Creative but are not that bad once you figure out how they work, this is a pretty minor point and you really couldnt take points off for this. All in all this beats any of the ipods hands down however I have never been a fan. Ok so maybe it doesnt have the street cred of a shiny nanno but if its music your after this baby wont dissapoint.


Miner555 posted a reply   
United States

The buttons are high quality. They are very well made. Nothing cheap about them. Hate to contradict your comment on stating the buttons feel cheap. I wish all the Sony Walkmans were made from the same quality brushed metal body. Very chip and scratch resistant.


lilja posted a review   

The Good:* Good sound quality and heaps of EQ options
* Has easily programmable FM radio
* Lovely looking device
* Nice clear screen, small but OK for videos
* Player will remember your place in podcasts
* Lists are easy to search - grouped into A-G, H-L etc to avoid scrolling forever and you can also search by initial letter.

The Bad:* No option to create playlists
* Media Manager pretty useless
* No voice/FM recorder
* 'Back' button needs a lot of pressure to work - I'm worried it'll break quickly.
* Very small gripe - files 'The' names under 'T' - 'The Avalanches' go under 'T' and so on.

Sound quality is very good after you tinker with options. 'Time machine shuffle' is a cute feature if you actually bother to tag the release year for all your music.

There's absolutely no facility to create playlists in the device itself - damnit! I think SensMe is just a gimmick, but others might like it. You can't edit the 'channels' or see a list of how the songs have been categorised. I wouldn't recommend depending on its 'Energetic' channel being a good playlist for the gym, for example. The noise-cancelling feature only works with specific headphones, so also a bit pointless unless you're happy to shell out for NC headphones each time.

It's great to have drag and drop, but the bundled Media Manager is easy to use simply because it has so few functions: you can't adjust tags in it, you can't adjust folders once they're created and you can only create playlists in Windows Media Player. The player doesn't detect duplicated songs, which my old iRiver e10 does - when adding playlists, some (but not all) songs already on the device copied in again, eating up storage space.

Thought I'd found a bonus feature when I saw a 'Record MP3 without PC' logo on the box, but apparently you need to have a specific Sony stereo to do this: the device simply comes with the appropriate cable. Cheeky bit of packaging there.

If you exit out of a podcast the player will remember your place, but that's the only bookmark feature, and you must load podcasts into the right section for this to work.

Overall it's a very good sounding, very easy to use player, but the little details and gimmicks might not live up to expectations. If the iRiver e10 didn't have a habit of going buggy after a year or so I'd be tempted to recommend buying one of those instead.

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Rolloxan posted a review   

Mullarpa, you do realise that every single peice of equipment comes with less than the 'advertised' capacity, dont you? they have to install software and firmware on the players/pcs/phones, so the memory is never going to be exactly as it states.

Dont believe me? Look at the hard drive of a new computer compared to the advertised 320gb, or the capacity of any other mp3 player.


mullarpa posted a review   

The Good:Great sound with good navigation and button response.

The Bad:Only 7.19GB not 8GB

First big surprise is that Windows reports 7.19GB not 8GB. Even allowing for the doggy practice of having 1000 bytes in a kilobyte rather than 1024, 7,725,907,968bytes only makes 7.7GB so it is still a con that at this price is totally unacceptable.

Next thing to note is that the USB leads are all non standard, so try not to lose them!

The unit itself is small and light and to my ears, sounds just great. I listen to a lot of podcasts and the quality audio, coupled with the ability to fast forward past bits you are not interested in is perfect.

The user interface is easy to use and the content transfer software works well. Whenever you plug the unit in it pops up and you can drag and drop files on to it. The registration card encourages to you register for a free gift which turns out to be 10% off accessories, so not really a gift at all and certainly not worth the hassle of registering for.

The Media manger software requires a lot of information to register it. It seems to work ok, but takes a while to get the hang of and if you subscribe to a few RSS feeds will happy download oddles of stuff without it being obvious what it is doing.

I would definitely recommend this player for it great sound and easy navigation, just bear in mind that it is 7.19GB not 8GB so a bit pricy, though I did get $15 off at Harvey Norman.

The noise cancelling function only works with the supplied headphones. Which don't seem to be available seperatly. Normal head phones can be plugged in though. The really cool thing is that you can plug Walkman in and external audio source such as an in flight entertainment system and use its noise reduction facility to improve the audio.

On quieter music, knocking the upper part of the ear bud cord transmits the sound directly to your ears, so it may not be great if you are running.

The cradle in my box seems useless, but I suspect there is a bit missing.


zarakazii posted a review   

The Good:Sound Qaulity is better than the Ipod.
The Options key is very useful. (Ipod does not have such a key)
You can definitely hear a difference when noise cancellation is On but the sound is mainly reduced through the In-ear style earphones.
Drag and drop is very easy and useful.

The Bad:Comparing to the Ipod, the Ipod looks cooler.
Scroll wheel of Ipod is easier to use.
I found using Itunes to be easier to manage the music.(However I haven't still figured how to use WMP:))

"Basically its wayyyy batter than the Ipod nano." I did a fair amount of research before buying and also found by using it that the Sony Walkman has superior Sound Quality compared to the Ipod nano 4th gen. (My dad bought a Ipod nano 4th gen at the same time) However the Ipod does look cooler and has wayyy more add on accessories available but In the end YOU must answer the question "AS to why your buying a Mp3 Player?" For me it was mainly to listen to music and I didn't need a whole lot of accessories, so wola answer was clearly the Sony walkman for its superior Sound Quality. If Fashion is your answer then it'll be the Ipod.


diffusal posted a review   

The Good:light and small
drag and drop content gadget is awesome
earbuds provide really good sound

The Bad:uncomfortable in-earbuds
requires the earbuds for noise cancellation

The pros outweigh cons, i dont really need the sound cancellation except when i go out so i use my own earphones at home. Video screen small but with great colour. I didn't really the video just the sound so great buy overall.


cinders posted a review   

Excellent sound quality for an MP3 player. Does everything it needs to well.

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User Reviews / Comments  Sony NWZ-S738 Walkman

  • vala



    "greatest mp3 player in the world"

  • Todd



    "sony is the best for mp3 player"

  • rocketscientist



    "I like it."

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