Splash Damage: NWZ-E465/354. Been there, Done that.
Alas, the Nano Killer that wasn’t. But Fuze Killer? Maybe.
The NWZ-E series has been, if nothing else, very workman like. Simple UI that’s easy to get into with the usual Sony Sound Quality (which, for the most part, is good) with decent battery life is the E-series in a nutshell. The E354 is nearing its life cycle, judging by the low cheap pricing on sony.com, which can be had as low as $50. For a 8GB DAP, that’s pretty darn cheap. And given its sound quality, I’d say it’s a no brainer.
(Why a separate DAP? Well, the Tablets are too damn big to be a nice, on the go music player. And your smartphone? I’d love to except the batteries kinda poop out after awhile. So, until the whole battery bit gets resolved with phones, I think that the DAPs have their place. Dwindling? Yes. But they still have a purpose, if nothing else, to deliver music without draining other resources).
Then there’s the replacement model, the NWZ-E465. It’s got two new redeeming additions, one neutral feature added and one major setback when compared with the E354. But for the most part, the two players are more or less the same. Same size, same UI now that’s graced the X-series (modified for the tactile E Series), same sonic signature. The two new redeeming additions?
1. 16GB Capacity. I knew immediately that the E354 was a bit of a sad horse because of it’s capacity. Two years ago it was more than enough. Now, not so much. The additional 8GB makes me happy, though it’s still the same player compared the E354.
2. Bundled in MDR-EX83s. If you’re a regular reader, this makes little sense, as you will have buds and cans that are magnitudes better than the bundled EX83s. But if you’re in a market for a new player and a new earbud, getting the EX83s with the E465 is definitely a plus. It’s a overwhelming upgrade vs. the standard earbuds that Sony, Apple, and others throw in. It makes the E465 one of the best DAPs on the market with this combination.
The voice recorder feature is there and maybe useful, but I doubt it getting much use. It’s overwhelmingly one of those meh features that Sony threw in. Meh Indeed.
Disappointingly, the E465 uses the WM-Port cable vs. the Mini USB Cable that’s graced the low end Walkman until now. Sure, this means that I can use the E465 with some of the accessories out there… Too bad they don’t really exist. I mean, it’d been nice if my Sony mini-fi on my desk had the WM-Port capabilities. Except it has the iPod 30-pin adaptor rather than WM-Port… And so on. I’d been happier with the Mini-USB or even Micro-USB vs. the WM-Port. Bit of a dealbreaker considering that the last two low end players was doing fine without the WM-Port. It is a dealbreaker I think to a degree. How much? Not sure.
Overall, the E465 is a refinement of the E354. If you’re getting a new DAP (because your smartphone won’t last the day if you’re using it as a DAP substitute) and don’t have a set of earbuds other than the pack ins, the E465 is a compelling buy. Otherwise, I’d just get the E354, or just skip it altogether.
NWZ-E465: B+/B (depends on your situation and your headphone loadout)
NWZ-E354: A- at current pricing (Up from B).